Singapore has deposited the UNCRPD instrument of ratification in New York. The Convention will come into effect for Singapore on 18 August 2013.
This significant milestone is made possible through the strong 3P (People, Public, Private) collaboration under the Enabling Masterplan. The Masterplan charts the roadmap for Singapore towards an inclusive society where persons with disabilities are empowered to contribute to society.
Singapore first signed the Convention in November 2012 to signal our intent to accede to the Convention. Upon ratification, Singapore joins 132 other countries which have committed to ensuring that persons with disabilities are treated equally with dignity and respect. Please refer to Annexes A and B for more information.
Speaking at the Building Construction Authority’s Launch of the Universal Design Exhibition today, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Chan Chun Sing said, “The ratification of the Convention would not have been possible without the collaborative effort of the various stakeholders. I am confident that together, we can progressively realise the vision of an inclusive society through the Enabling Masterplan.”
Ms Judy Wee, Vice-President of the Disabled People’s Association and member of the Enabling Masterplan Implementation Committee (EMIC) said, “Ratifying the Convention is a right step towards building an inclusive society. We need to continue our efforts to remove all physical and attitudinal barriers. We look forward to the day when everyone- including persons with disabilities are included in all aspects of life in our community. ”
The people, public and private sector collaboration will continue to drive the progress made under the Enabling Masterplan.
About the UNCRPD
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was adopted by the United Nations in 2006 and came into force on 2008.
This Convention looks at what can be done to make sure that persons with disabilities can have access to rights as everybody else. It also identifies areas where the interests of persons with disabilities can be protected.
Singapore is expected to submit its initial report to the Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities within two years of ratification. Please refer to the NCSS Website
for more information on the UNCRPD.
Source: National Council of Social Service ‘We are Able’ Campaign.
Reservations and Description of Articles
The Convention permits States to make reservations, provided that these reservations are not incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention. The effect of a reservation is that a government is not bound by a particular article or sub-section of an article of the Convention. Singapore has expressed three reservations on ratification to the UNCRPD. Please refer to the UN Website
for the actual reservations that Singapore will be placing.
1. Article 12(4)- Equal Recognition before the Law
States Parties shall ensure that all measures that relate to the exercise of legal capacity provide for appropriate and effective safeguards to prevent abuse in accordance with international human rights law. Such safeguards shall ensure that measures relating to the exercise of legal capacity respect the rights, will and preferences of the person, are free of conflict of interest and undue influence, are proportional and tailored to the person's circumstances, apply for the shortest time possible and are subject to regular review by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body. The safeguards shall be proportional to the degree to which such measures affect the person's rights and interests.
The Mental Capacity Act allows a person with mental capacity to appoint a person he trusts to make decisions for him should he lose mental capacity in the future. This is done through the mechanism of the lasting power of attorney (LPA). The person appointed has to agree to undertake this role of trust and responsibility. The Act does not prescribe regular review of decisions made under an LPA. This is to avoid undermining the assumption of trust and goodwill and to encourage reliance on the social bond between the person and his appointed proxy decision maker. A review of decisions made under an LPA would be triggered by applications made to the court or representations to the Public Guardian. The Office of the Public Guardian will act on complaints.
2. Article 25(e) – Health
States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall:
e) Prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance, and life insurance where such insurance is permitted by national law, which shall be provided in a fair and reasonable manner.
Singapore does not intervene in the commercial underwriting decisions of private insurers or mandate the coverage of persons with disabilities as this may compel private insurers to accept risks beyond their risk appetite and capability or reduce the affordability of insurance premiums for the majority of the population. Insurers do, however, provide insurance coverage to persons with disabilities for conditions unrelated to their disability. Recognising the needs of persons with disabilities in the area of health insurance, the Ministry of Health has extended MediShield coverage to children diagnosed with congenital and neonatal conditions from 1 March 2013. Regardless of disability or insured status, all Singaporeans continue to enjoy access to heavy Government subsidises at public hospitals. Needy families can also tap onto the new Medifund Junior and the existing Medifund for assistance on the healthcare bills.
3. Article 29(a)(iii)- Participation in Political and Public Life
States Parties shall guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others, and shall undertake:
a) To ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, directly or through freely chosen representatives, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected, inter alia, by:
iii) Guaranteeing the free expression of the will of persons with disabilities as electors and to this end, where necessary, at their request, allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice.
In Singapore, to keep voting secret and to safeguard the integrity of voting, persons with disabilities can only be assisted in voting by an election official. The election official is obliged to mark the ballot paper in the manner directed by the voter and is under oath to keep the voting secret. For visually impaired voters, stencils are provided so that they can mark the ballot paper themselves without assistance.