Speeches/Interviews

November 02, 2020

Speech by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Education, at the Purple Parade 2020

1. Hello everyone, I am very happy to join all of you today for the 8th edition of the Purple Parade.

2. I remember joining in the first Purple Parade back when it started in 2013. Coincidentally, it was raining then too. Today it's also raining, but luckily, we are in shelter. Some of us are in Suntec; many of you are at home. But back then in 2013, 4,000 people showed up. All of them shared the belief that all of us, with or without disabilities, deserves equal access to opportunities in life. Year by year, the Purple Parade has continued to grow in spirit and in strength, and we had 10,000 participants last year.

3. This year, I think the organisers were looking forward to an even larger gathering. Unfortunately, we are unable to do so physically due to Covid-19. But we are still able to connect and support one another and support people with special needs at the first digital edition of the Purple Parade today, thanks to the hard work of the organising committee and the active contributions of our partners and supporters. This reminds us that nothing rains on this parade, not even COVID-19. We can overcome all challenges.

4. There are certainly some benefits to holding the Purple Parade online – in some ways, it increases access for everyone to have equal participation and engagement, because we are no longer limited by physical space and can participate from wherever we are. On this shared screen, all of us can occupy an equal-sized frame and we can tap on different assistive technologies, including screen readers, voice overs, and captions, so everyone can participate.

5. Indeed, our experience during this period have shown that technology can overcome many physical barriers. But technology also has its limits. Connectedness must still be experienced face to face. And the reality is that there are still barriers that exist for persons with disabilities and their family members. So all of us must commit to make every effort to bring down these barriers, And that means actively thinking about each other's needs and asking: how might we make work, make learning and make life more accessible for every Singaporean?

6. For my part in the Ministry of Education, I assure you that we will continue to make changes in our education system so that it better reflects and engenders the inclusive society we want to live in. We will ensure that education remains an uplifting force for everyone, regardless of their background. The building of relationships among students within and between schools must facilitate learning, working and playing alongside peers of diverse abilities, valued for their strengths, and each one contributing meaningfully to the community.

7. Finally, whether you are a person with a disability, a parent or caregiver, a friend, a service provider, or someone who is just participating in this movement for the first time, thank you for taking the time to be here. Your presence and your participation is an important step in our journey to be a more inclusive nation.

8. More importantly, the spirit of the Purple Parade must continue even after this concert and even after the festivities end. Let us listen to the different experiences and insights of one another without judging, let us actively include all voices in different aspects of community development, and increase accessibility, finding creative ways to do so in our neighbourhoods, in our schools and in our workplaces.

9. So I hope all of you have a wonderful time at this inaugural digital edition of the Purple Parade. Do help to spread the word and get more Singaporeans to come on board and join this national movement. As Mayor Denise Phua said just now, we are all in this journey together, and together, we can do so much more to build a Singapore that is fairer, more equal and more inclusive. Thank you very much.