Mr Quek See Tiat, Chairman of BCA,
Dr John Keung, CEO of BCA,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to BCA’s Universal Design Exhibition. The Government is committed to make sure that our development is sustainable and will cater to people from all walks of life, people with different needs, from the very young to the very old. This in itself is a very noble goal, but this goal would not be achievable without the cooperation and the efforts of people from all walks of life.
When we talk about Universal Design, most people only think about the architects and designers, but actually it takes much more than that. It takes everyone of us to give our inputs, to make sure that we have those considerations in mind when we start from the onset in our planning exercise. If we do not adopt the correct practices right at the beginning, very often it costs us much more and it takes us much more time as well to rectify some of these.
As you know, the needs of our society are becoming more diverse. In the past when we build things, we generally cater for the mass market. Maybe because of resource constraints, we were less able to cater to some of the unique requirements. But as we go forth and when the needs are becoming more diverse, there’s a need for us to consider this concept of Universal Design that caters to the needs of not just the persons with disabilities but also the elderly, children and so forth. And only so will we be able to build an environment that endears the living space for our people that help us to bond as one people, one country and one nation.
So on that note, I am very happy to be here to help launch this exhibition because beyond looking at the ideas that have already come about, we hope to ignite the passion amongst the young especially the school children and people from all walks of life to come forward and give their suggestions, so that we can continue to walk this journey together.
For this reason, BCA is reviewing our Accessibility Code for the built environment. This was spelt out what building owners have to provide to make their buildings and inter-connections user-friendly, not just to the average person but to the young, old, handicapped and everyone else. The revised code will also place greater emphasis on Universal Design to cater to the entire spectrum of our community so Universal Design or “Design for Everyone” is a critical step in this direction.
In this entire exercise, BCA will not be able to do it alone. They had a Code Review Committee comprising of various stakeholders, including Voluntary Welfare Organisations which represent users group, including families and the disability community. BCA also had a month-long public consultation exercise and now we are eagerly waiting for BCA to complete this exercise and soon launch the new Accessibility Code for the Built Environment and we look forward to that. So today’s exhibition is a useful platform for Singaporeans to see what can be achieved and also to invite Singaporeans to come and join us in this journey to provide us with even more ideas.
On this note, today we have also another example of our continuing efforts to cater to the needs of the disabled community and people of all ages. Today, we are making progress under the Enabling Masterplan that was started last year in then-MCYS, and now continuing on in MSF. Today, we have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We have deposited the instrument of ratification yesterday morning at the UN Headquarters in New York and this signals our commitment towards creating a society where people with disabilities are treated equally with dignity and respect. While we have achieved much, I think there’s much more that we still need to do and I continue to urge all of us to work together to bring this journey forward. So in order to build this inclusive society, to enable everyone to work in a user-friendly environment, it is a constant work in progress. It is this endeavour that is not just part of the government effort but part of the community effort.
So while we have made all these positive moves, we will also look forward to all of you making your contribution and I’m happy to know that BCA is strongly pushing this by raising the awareness. The awareness is the most important; once people are aware then they will be able to come forward to join us in this journey. Otherwise, the entire journey will be left to the BCA or some of the professionals in the architectural field then we will be poorer for this.
On this note, may I wish everybody once again a very good morning. I hope all of you who are here will continue to walk this journey with us. I hope the students who are here will be inspired to help bring this message back home and back to your class so that together, we can build for a more inclusive Singapore.