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Opening Address by Mr Desmond Lee at the Public-Private-People Conference on the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025

Type: Official Speeches (All), Official Speeches: Desmond Lee

Topic(s): Disability Services

Dr Seree Nonthasoot – Senior Executive Vice-President, Institute of Research and Development for Public Enterprises, and former Co-Chair of the Taskforce that developed the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan

Speakers and Moderators

Distinguished Delegates

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning to all

1. The video you have just seen is a performance by the Purple Symphony. It is Singapore’s first all-inclusive orchestra, comprising talented musicians with and without disabilities. The Purple Symphony supports inclusion and celebrates the abilities and excellence that the group can achieve together.

2. Our very first Public-Private-People Conference on the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025 hopes to do likewise for the 3 sectors of our society to achieve the goals of our Masterplan together.

3. Singapore is honoured to organise this Conference under our chairmanship of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD).

“Working Together” on the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025
4. Some of you may recall that this Masterplan was adopted by our ASEAN Leaders at the 33rd ASEAN Summit held in Singapore last November. Before that, I had the honour of chairing an ASEAN Socio-Cultural Ministerial Retreat to discuss the strategic direction for this Masterplan, to see results by 2025.

5. This Masterplan is an important initiative to show our continued commitment to care for persons with disabilities in our region. The 76 key action points in the Masterplan highlight the priority areas across all three community pillars of ASEAN, the political, economic and socio-cultural communities. These would remain aspirational until we see them as realistic goals we can work towards.

6. To move this Masterplan forward, we need your feedback, your input and, above all, your participation as active citizens in the People, Private and Public Sectors, working together in collaboration and in partnership to enable and empower persons with disabilities in our region.

7. The number of persons with disabilities is on the rise in ASEAN. Among the young, with improved techniques for early intervention and detection, studies have shown that there is a global rise in the prevalence of children with autism. Furthermore, as the ASEAN population ages and live longer, we will also see greater number of people with disabilities of one kind or another.

8. More cities and villages in ASEAN will need to have enabling services and facilities to allow for a greater number of persons with disabilities to go about their daily lives, independently and with the dignity that they deserve.
9. I am therefore very glad to see, among us in this Conference, participants from quite diverse sectors of our society, both young and the young at heart

We have many students here from Junior Colleges, Polytechnics, Universities and even local and foreign international schools. It is important that we hear the views of the younger generation as it is their future that this Masterplan is shaping.

To our young people, beyond grouping yourselves as students, do take the bold step to network and explore projects that you can do among your peers or in partnership or collaborations with ASEAN and with the public, private and people sectors. I am sure our younger generation will be able to add a lot of value, energy and aspiration to help shape a future of ASEAN that is disability-friendly in many ways.

We have also among us, not just senior officials from ASEAN Member States and the UN, which is usually the case when an ASEAN Conference is organised, but delegates from local and overseas people sector organisations and private sector corporations and industry associations.

10. We have today esteemed speakers

from the Public Sector, notably the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), ASEAN Secretariat, the Building and Construction Authority and the Ministry of Education of Singapore

from the Private Sector, corporations including Deutsche Bank, UOB, Grab, SMRT Corporation, Singapore National Employers Federation, and from private enterprises started by entrepreneurs who are themselves Persons with Disabilities, such as the Chia Yong Yong Law Corporation of Singapore, and Shwe Minn Tha Enterprises of Myanmar

from the People Sector, we have speakers from the ASEAN Disability Forum, Persons with Disability Association of Thailand, Phnom Penh Center for Independent Living, AGENDA Indonesia, Autism Resource Centre of Singapore, National Council of Social Service, and Her Excellency Mom Luang Preeyapun Sridhavat representing the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network


11. All of you bring to this Conference, important perspectives that will add critical value to the Masterplan and its journey from now to 2025. It is no mean feat to build an inclusive environment in a region of more than 600 million people to enhance the quality of life of persons with disabilities. It must be a collective endeavour, working across the 3Ps, with respect and understanding. This is why our theme for today’s Conference is “Working Together”.

Learning from each other to build an inclusive ASEAN
12. In Singapore, our national Enabling Masterplans to support persons with disabilities is a partnership amongst government agencies, private sector and people sector, including persons with disabilities and non-government organisations that provide relevant services. We are now on our third Enabling Masterplan, and there is a lot more that needs to be done.

13. This year, we have also further deepened our engagement of stakeholders by launching cross-sectoral workgroups. We are drawing from the members’ varied experiences to explore solutions in these three key areas

developing inclusive preschools,
preparing adults with disabilities for the future economy, and
promoting independent living through technology and design.


14. As we implemented our national Enabling Masterplans over the years, we have learned several things with the benefit of insight from our various stakeholders and partners. This afternoon, my colleague from the Building and Construction Authority will share more about our experience in promoting Universal Design in Singapore – an approach to create an environment that is friendly to all age groups and people of different abilities.

15. We hope to hear other ASEAN member states share their experiences too, as there is much that we can learn from each other in making our built environment more inclusive, more friendly and more thoughtful.

I understand that Cambodia has recently commenced construction of a ‘Centre for Services’ for persons with disabilities. It will hold workshops for design and building of devices for persons with disabilities that will be marketed in nearby countries as well.

And earlier in May this year, I attended the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council meeting chaired by Thailand. As ASCC Council Ministers, we welcomed Thailand’s efforts to establish an ASEAN Centre for Active Ageing and Innovation, as well as an ASEAN Training Centre for Social Work and Social Welfare. There is much more that our region can do together to pursue joint areas of cooperation to improve inclusivity for the mutual benefit of our people.


16. Let me wish everyone a fruitful discussion today. With your active participation, I am confident that this will lead to many new ideas and stronger partnership and collaboration across the 3Ps.

Thank you.