Parliament: Nominated MP Chia Yong Yong chokes up, recounting her school days

Nominated MP Chia Yong Yong said she had benefited from growing up alongside her peers at her alma mater, Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School.
Nominated MP Chia Yong Yong said she had benefited from growing up alongside her peers at her alma mater, Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Nominated MP Chia Yong Yong choked up in Parliament on Wednesday (July 11), as she recounted her younger days in school.

The lawyer, who has a nerve and muscular disorder, said she had benefited from growing up alongside her peers at her alma mater, Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School.

"I'm blessed to say that I have had many teachers who made that difference because they did not treat me as inferior to a child without disability," she said, pausing as she teared up in a speech during a debate on education for the future.

Calling for more to be done to include children with disabilities or special needs in mainstream schools, Ms Chia said her teachers accommodated her disability but treated her the same as any other student.

Said Ms Chia: "So when I did not do my homework, I was punished. When I talked too much, I was punished. But I was like any other child. It wasn't always easy. There were times when I felt like a burden. And I'm sure there were many times my friends felt like I was a nuisance.

"But you know what? We grew up together. We didn't think we had a choice, we stuck together and we grew up together."

In her speech, Ms Chia laid out the need for inclusive education so that more opportunities can be created for all children to play, learn and grow together, and accept one another.

Her suggestions included co-locating special education schools with mainstream schools and letting students with special needs spend a portion of their day with mainstream peers.