Saturday, September 29, 2012

LITTLE FOR SENIORS TO CHEER ABOUT IN BUDGET 2013

I am a senior citizen, but I am not eligible for any of the above benefits.

I have been scanning the papers to see what goodies are in store for senior citizens in the Budget 2013 speech delivered by the PM yesterday.

Sad to say, the PM has let the warga emas down again. 

Mainly for the lower income group. Nothing much here to help the middle income group meet the rising cost of healthcare and medicine. 

Sure, there is something for everyone, as the PM has promised. But that 'something' is almost next to nothing for senior citizens in the middle income group. If you did not work in the civil service or serve in the armed forces, you don't get to enjoy the perks regularly handed out to pensioners. If you are not on welfare, the six additional centres for senior citizens will not benefit you.

The processing fee for a 5-year passport has been reduced from RM300 to RM150 for those aged 60 and above. Only those still able to travel will benefit from this. It effectively rules out the older elderly. I just renewed my passport and will have to wait another five years to enjoy this 50% discount. Still, this is welcome news. We have to be grateful for any crumbs that fall onto our plate.

Our silver-haired PM will turn 60 next year. Our former PM Dr Mahathir is already 87 years old. He should be championing the cause of senior citizens. Our biggest concerns have been, and will continue to be the rising cost of living and of healthcare.

Sure, there is the BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1malaysia) of a one-off RM500 handout to help the needy including senior citizens. But you have to apply for it, and there's no guarantee you will get it.  It's not for the middle income group anyway.

Senior citizens, especially the baby boomers from the middle class, need more financial assistance. With longer life expectancy up to 76 years, they need to have enough savings to see them through their retirement. Many can't afford to retire, but they face age discrimination when they seek re-employment. 

Why am I speaking up for the middle income group? Just because we are retired professionals, it doesn't mean we are financially comfortable, and don't require any government assistance. We are the middle income group that is literally caught in the middle, when it comes to financial commitments. We have elderly parents to care for, and adult children to support. We are the sandwich generation.

Heathcare and medical costs for our elderly parents can run up to tens of thousands of ringgit. As for our adult children, many are still not financially independent. They are either pursuing post-graduate degrees, or have housing loans, car loans and credit card debts to settle. Some need funds to start a business. Who do they turn to for interest-free 'loans'? Mommy and daddy, of course. So there goes our hard-earned retirement savings.

From Malaysiakini

While I can understand the need to help Felda settlers, fishermen, single moms, students, the disabled and even first-time house-buyers, I can't fathom the rationale behind giving PTPTN borrowers a 20% discount on their loan repayment. Neither can I accept any explanation for the RM200 rebate given to youths to purchase smart phones.

Perhaps I have to read between the lines in the PM's budget speech to find the hidden goodies for senior citizens. Perhaps the PM is planning a big surprise to cheer us up before Election Day. Well, don't hold your breath...


Thursday, September 27, 2012

A LIGHT-HEARTED LOOK AT BABY BOOMERS



Stumbled upon these videos on AARP Youtube channel. It's a light-hearted look at the funny side of growing old. Enjoy a good laugh at ourselves.



With inflation driving prices sky high, and unemployment (and retrenchment) heading the same way, don't be surprised to find your adult children moving back to the family home to save on living expenses. Pray that he doesn't have his whole family in tow. Bye-bye, privacy. Bye-bye, peace and quiet.



For more videos, visit AARP (American Association of Retired Persons).

Monday, September 24, 2012

A MASSIVE MARKET WAITING TO BE TAPPED

The Sunday Star. Read the full article here.

It's not only happening in China. - it's worldwide. 
It's time the private sector here take note. The 
government has only now swung into action  to 
start initiating policies to address the needs of 
ALL senior citizens in Malaysia, and not just those 
of the lower income group.
The signs are already there. Indeed, they have been there for years now. But companies here are still adopting a wait-and-see approach before venturing into the seniors market. The number of senior citizens aged 60 and above in Malaysia will have reached 9% by 2020, and 15% by 2035. These figures can only go up as our society ages.

A handful of local companies are already taking note of this ageing phenomenon, and have begun to invest in products and services catering to this demographic. The heathcare industry is one, and travel is another. The recent MATTA Fair had a whole section dedicated to seniors travel. Retirees make up a major portion of the market for overseas travel. They have the time and money to spend on tour packages.

There is even a travel cooperative 'Silver Horizon' set up by Singaporean retirees. Check out their website for upcoming tours. (From The Straits Times)

Pharmaceuticals, insurance, assisted living devices, homecare services, nutritional and dietary supplements, anti-ageing products, home modification businesses, lifelong learning colleges...the list is practically endless.

A retirement village could look like this. Retirees in Malaysia may well see the first retirement resort in the country coming up within the next five years.

Here in Malaysia and Singapore, the silver-haired market remains largely untapped.  A few housing developers have carved out a niche in building retirement villages. Others have gone into providing healthcare products and services for the elderly. In Japan adult diapers now outsell diapers for babies - a sure sign that the population is rapidly ageing.

Modelling adult diapers in Japan. 

The Asian baby boomers market offers companies willing to invest in it unlimited opportunities for generating revenue. But would they dare come on board?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

HOW PREPARED ARE WE FOR AN AGEING SOCIETY?


(This article below was published in The Star in October 2010. Has anything been done since to support our ageing society? Ask the senior citizens. They know the answer, and it isn't in the affirmative!)

Question


Do we have the necessary system and structure in place to support an ageing society?

“A society for all ages encompasses the goal of providing older persons with the opportunity to continue contributing to society. To work towards this goal, it is necessary to remove whatever excludes or discriminates against them.” – The United Nations’ 2002 Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.

AS A developing nation, Malaysia puts a lot of stock into our youth – they are, after all, the fuel that will power the country’s future. Policies and initiatives involving or aimed at the young play a major part in our nation-building, and investing in our youths is viewed as an investment in our future.

The other side of the coin, however, does not see nearly as much exposure. Malaysia currently has about 3 million senior citizens, and the number is rising. UN statistics show that Malaysia is likely to reach ageing nation status (where the number of people above 60 make up at least 15% of the population) by the year 2035.

In other words, we have only about 25 years to put into place the necessary systems and structures that are required by a society that includes a significant number of elderly citizens.


A matter of numbers

Population ageing is caused by two factors: declining fertility rates and increasing longevity. People are living longer due to socio-economic developments and improving medical technology. At the same time, families are having fewer children due to reasons such as an increase in working women who have fewer children, and limiting offspring to provide a better quality of life for them.

Assoc Prof Dr Tengku Aizan Hamid, director of the Institute of Gerontology at Universiti Putra Malaysia, points out that it is critical to note that populations are ageing much faster in many Asian countries.

“For example, France took 120 years to double its population of elderly to 14%, while Singapore only took 18 years,” she says, adding that population trends show that Malaysia’s number of elderly will have increased by 277% between the years 2000 and 2030.


“Social institutions, however, are slow to respond to changes in demography,” she says.

As our society gradually shifts into one with more middle- and old-aged people, many wide-reaching changes need to be amended, in areas as varied as health, finance, employment, education and social relations. To spearhead these changes, government involvement is imperative.

Currently, senior citizens come under the purview of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, specifically under the Social Welfare Department.

As Tengku Aizan points out, however, an ageing population should not be approached from a welfare perspective, but rather, a developmental one.

“Becoming an aged nation touches on all aspects of society, and so we must have a holistic view of the issues involved. Only a small percentage of the elderly need welfare. The approach taken needs to cover many different areas of a person’s life,” she says. Dr Bharathi Vengadasalam, a council member of the Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society, agrees.

Australia's National Institute on Ageing and Singapore's Council for Third Age
Time we had something similar in Malaysia?

She suggests that a national institute of ageing needs to be set up to make it easier to gather data and lobby for policy changes.

“It’s not just about ageing per se, but about what structures are put in place. Many different angles, such as physical, enviromental, legal and sociological, need to be considered,” she says.


The necessary care


On the home front, a major cause for concern for many families would be caregiving. Coming from an Asian society that values filial piety, it is usually taken as a given that children will look after aged parents. However, with families becoming smaller and the gradual erosion of the joint family, this may become more difficult than anticipated.

The financial and physical burden of taking care of an elderly (and in some cases, two or more) parent could well prove to be beyond the children’s means. After all, we have cases of the elderly being abandoned at old folks’ homes or hospitals.

One problem is the lack of good quality, affordable care for the elderly in Malaysia, which accounts for the stigma against homes for the elderly. This is a very different scenario from many developed countries, where senior citizens who are financially independent often make a choice to move into a retirement home or are able to support themselves.

The difference, it appears, is one of empowerment.

“I wish people here would be more empowered to decide what will happen to them. Of course, there need to be certain policy changes on a governmental level, but people also need to put provisions in place for their later years,” says Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society’s Dr Bharathi, who specialises in geriatric psychiatry.

Lawyer Ranuga Devy, who is honorary secretary of the Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society, and who educates people on the legal aspects of ageing, says many parents often spend all their savings on their children, only to struggle financially later.

“What happens after we retire? If you were a government employee, you get a pension, and for others there is the Employees Provident Fund. But how long can EPF savings last, and who’s to say any of this money is actually being used by the retiree himself?

“Why can’t we come up with a viable scheme where they can invest these savings, and a portion is given back to them periodically?” she says.

Healthcare is another aspect that often deals a financial blow to both the aged person as well as his or her family.

“If you’re not a government employee, you’re not eligible for state healthcare,” Ranuga points out.

In her opinion, to deal with the demands of an ageing society, every citizen should be eligible for free healthcare after a certain age.

“It could even be made compulsory for every senior citizen to get annual checkups for free,” she suggests.

Dr Bharathi adds that when dealing with geriatric care, a multi-disciplinary team is essential.

“We’re currently ill-prepared. Abroad, a doctor, an occupational therapist and psychiatrist would all be part of the team,” she says.

Furthermore, stronger regulations are needed when it comes to homes for the aged. Instead of grouping all homes under the banner of “old folks’ home”, it may be more useful to look into having different levels of homes to cater to different needs and wants, such as independent, assisted and dependent living.

Dr Bharathi points out that if such high quality homes were available in Malaysia, they could relieve families of the physical burden of caring for an aged parent, freeing them to be more emotionally available.

“It’s not so much an erosion of family values, but a changing society. With people having fewer children and fewer people at home, it is more difficult to give care to aged parents, even if they may try really hard. Many caregivers struggle with their responsibilities,” she says.

To make this option a reality, much work needs to be done. For a start, aged-care homes need to be properly monitored. Staff working in the homes should have the necessary skills and certification.

In developed countries, aged care is figured into taxes or other reimbursement schemes. In the United States, for example, nursing homes are reimbursed by Medicare, a federal programme for the aged who contributed to the programme when they were employed. Calls have been made by various parties, including the Malaysian Medical Association, for the Government to introduce an Aged Care Act, but there is yet to be anything substantial.


Equally important, however, is ensuring quality of life for the elderly. This, ideally, should incorporate everything from their living conditions and comfort to their social network and mobility.

Singapore and Japan, for example, have geriatric-friendly housing. In Singapore, these are in the form of HDB flats boasting features like fire-proof doors, bathrooms with grab bars, and emergency buttons in each room. Additionally, each building has a doctor on standby.

Japan’s government has adopted measures to promote houses following similar guidelines, including extra loans and preferential interest rates. The establishment of “senior citizens’ villages”, with elderly-friendly housing and public amenities, could be another option.

Tengku Aizan furthers asserts that public spaces should also be elderly-friendly. “Our current public spaces are not safe for both the elderly and the disabled,” she says.

Ranuga uses countries like Australia as an example, pointing out how their public transportation systems are conducive to the elderly.

“This is essential to allow them to lead an active life. If (the elderly) are not kept engaged, they can become a burden to society,” she says.

Performing a Chinese fan dance at a Senior Citizen's Club annual dinner.

Community-based programmes are also important when it comes to dealing with an ageing population.

“More senior citizens’ clubs would definitely be good,” says Dr Bharathi.

“Basically, ways in which older people can be engaged and given a sense of purpose. Longevity studies show that people who remain active physically, socially and mentally, are less affected by the effects of ageing.”

Ti-Ratana's Meals on Wheels

Community efforts can even help with caring for the aged, for example, by setting up an adult daycare, a service which is available in the United States. Voluntary programmes like Meals on Wheels, on the other hand, which are running in Australia, Britain, the United States and Canada, deliver meals to individuals, mostly elderly, who are home-bound due to their physical condition.

“Most of these countries (quoted as examples) are developed countries, that’s why they are focusing on these issues,” says Ranuga.

“But we needn’t wait till then, we should start putting things into motion now.”

For the full text, click here.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

THE IGNOMINY OF BEING LABELLED 'DAN LAIN-LAIN'

Open invitation to celebrate Malaysia Day with SABM (Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia)

16 September is Malaysia Day. As in 2011, I celebrated the day with friends at SABM (Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia). Children from the rural-urban exchange program gave a 30-minute performance of three mimes, an interview on racism and a lively dance to Kate Perry's "Fireworks". Delightful.

The children from SABM's rural-urban exchange program. 

The special guest was Subang jaya assembly woman YB Hannah Yeoh. She was there with her husband Ramachandran Muniandy to speak on "Bangsa Malaysia - Illusion or Reality?" They shared the hassle they encountered at the National Registration Department when they tried to register their first-born as 'Anak Malaysia'. The only options they could tick from on the national registration form were the standard Malay, Chinese, Indian or Other (dan lain-lain). Apparently, they were told by the registration clerk that the computer data system has been programmed to accept only any of four race categories. (Read more here.)

Anyone would have thought that in this era of digital technology, it would be easy enough to set up a national registration system that allows parents to register their child of mixed parentage as 'anak Malaysia' or just 'Malaysian'. So why hasn't this been done? Is there any political agenda behind this?

The open dialogue session with Hannah after her talk. One can feel the frustration that she and her husband went through to try and register their first child as a Malaysian.

If your mother is Chinese and your father is Malayalee, what would you tick under 'bangsa'? What if you are of Portuguese, Javanese and Kadazan descent? Why does race take precedence over nationality?

Where do I tick if I am of mixed parentage but born in Malaysia to third generation Malaysians?

To be classified under 'Other' is so insulting and demeaning, said a member of the audience during the dialogue session. It's like being lumped together with other nameless people without any identity. It hurts one's pride to have one's ethnicity completely removed from mention in official records.

We are all Malaysians first. (From wilsonbeh)

Friday, September 14, 2012

THE WINTER OF OUR LIVES



And then it is Winter...

You know. . . time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.

It seems just yesterday that I was young,
just married and embarking on my new life with my mate.
And yet in a way, it seems like eons ago,
and I wonder where all the years went.

I know that I lived them all...

And I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams...

But, here it is... the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise...
How did I get here so fast?
Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well...
seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people
were years away from me and that winter was so far off
that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like...

But, here it is...
my friends are retired and getting grey...
they move slower and I see an older person now.
Some are in better and some worse shape than me...

but, I see the great change...
Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant...
but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks
that we used to see and never thought we'd be.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day!
And taking a nap is not a treat anymore... it's mandatory!
Cause if I don't on my own free will... I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so...
now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared
for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability
to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!!

But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I'm not sure how long it will last...
this I know, that when it's over... its over...

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn't done...
things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done.

It's all in a lifetime...

So, if you're not in your winter yet...
let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think.
So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly!
Don't put things off too long!!

Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today,
as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not!

You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life... so,
live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember...
and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things
that you have done for them in all the years past!!

"Life is a gift to you.
The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.
Make it a fantastic one."

~ Author unknown ~




Wednesday, September 12, 2012

HOPE YET FOR OUR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION

Screenshot from The Straits Times

Finally our government has acknowledged the failings of our national educational system. For decades, parents have been expressing their concerns over the rapidly falling standards in our schools. Only now has the government decided to listen and take action, perhaps because of political expediency?

PM Najib and Education Minister Muhyiddin
(Photo: The Star)
The PM in launching the Malaysian Education Blueprint yesterday admitted that our students have performed dismally compared to their counterparts in other countries in the region.

This was not always the case.

The years after our country's independence in 1957 saw our schools produce some of the best minds that could match the brightest in other countries. Many of my schoolmates won Colombo Plan scholarships to study in top universities abroad. Our teachers did their training at the renowned Teachers Training College in Kirkby and Brinsford, UK. (Click here for Joe Chelliah's personal account and pictures of these UK-trained teachers.)

The teachers were dedicated and had a genuine desire to see their pupils succeed. Many of my primary school teachers had only LCE (Form 3) qualifications but I learned so much from them. I had Chinese, Malay and Indian teachers who opened up my young mind to fascinating worlds beyond our shores. They instilled in me a thirst for learning that has remained to this day.

19 'A's? That's a record!
During my high school years from 1960 to 1964, a distinction scored in any subject was truly reflective of the pupil's grasp of the subject. But today, there is little prestige attached to an 'A', at least that's the view of those in the teaching profession, the 'insiders' who know the true picture. Indeed every year when the SPM results are released, the media would highlight students obtaining 15 'A's or more. Each year the number of students reaping a harvest of distinctions would rise. It became so incredulous that the government had to step in and limit the number of subjects a student could take to 10 beginning from 2010.

The rot in our public schools has been so pervasive that an 'A' in English, for example, is probably equivalent to a 'C' now for the majority of our Form 5 students. They go on to local universities and spread the rot there. Today it is common to hear complaints from the corporate sector about the poor standard of English of our local graduates, and their lack of analytical thinking skills.

The situation has deteriorated so swiftly that concerned parents opt for private schools for their children. They are prepared to spend more than put their children's future at risk in the public schools. The roots of ethnic segregation have taken hold. Today, the staff and pupils in public schools are overwhelmingly from the Malay community. What a far cry from the schools of yesteryears where the schools were a melting pot of all races.



Still, I am glad Education Minister Muhyiddin, has finally faced up to reality. To quote from The Star, "Malaysian students' achievements in reading, Mathematics and Science are still low compared to students in developed countries.

“For example, of 74 countries that participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment or Pisa 2009, Malaysian students were in the bottom third for reading, Mathematics and Science."

“We are not proud of this,” he said. 

11 reforms have been outlined in the blueprint. Those that are of special significance to me are:


> Ensure that every child is proficient in both Bahasa Malaysia and English;

> Develop values-driven Malaysians and promote unity among the races;

> Transform teaching and ensure that only 30% of the top graduates are admitted into the profession;

> Increase transparency in the ministry's progress of the targets set in the blueprint.

Let's hope this marks a new beginning, a positive step in the right direction - for the sake of our children and for the future of our country.


Monday, September 10, 2012

HEALTHCARE INITIATIVES THAT MAKE GOOD SENSE

From The Straits Times
In Singapore it is now possible to hire trained live-in caregivers. This must be welcome news to families with elderly parents who are bedridden or who require 24/7 monitoring. This is a cost-saving alternative to nursing homes which are often a drain on families with limited financial resources.

These caregivers are mostly from the Philippines. They hold a diploma or degree in nursing and are trained before coming over. They are paid higher salaries than maids depending on their skills and experience. While maids get around S$500 a month, these care-givers can draw between S$600 to S$1000 a month.

Screenshot of the website at  http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/

Looking for a good nursing home can be a very frustrating experience here in Malaysia. With hundreds spread out in the Klang Valley, it can be time-consuming and energy-sapping to check out even a handful of them. Wouldn't it be great to have a tool similar to the one on the US government's medicare website?

This Nursing Home Compare allows you to go shopping online for a good nursing home. You can view evaluation reports on what's great about a particular nursing home, and what's not. This Nursing Home Inspect database covers nearly 118,000 deficiencies at 14,565 homes across the US, based on reports received from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  (Figures from ProPublika)


This tool works much the same as Tripadvisor where you can compare hotels and rates, and book your accommodation based on reviews from hotel guests. If we had a similar online tool for comparing nursing homes here, it would definitely remove the physical hassle of visiting each of these facilities to check them out.

You can also compare doctors and how much they charge. It gives you the option of choosing a doctor or a hospital that you can afford. Right now patients have no idea how much they have to pay for a simple consultation or a medical procedure till they receive the bill. By then it's too late for any price negotiations.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

YASMIN, GONE TOO SOON

I was fortunate to be in Singapore when the book "Yasmin, How You Know?" was launched as part of the annual Singapore-Malaysia Causeway Exchange Festival from 23-26 August.

The launch was an emotional experience for many in the audience. For Orked, who was present at the launch, the tears flowed freely as she spoke about her beloved sister.




It is impossible not to fall under Yasmin's spell as you turn the pages of the book. You want to fall at her feet and worship this goddess. You want also to hug her tight and feel the warmth of her heart, the purity of her soul. You hope that some of it will rub onto you - this essence of Yasmin.

As you reach the last page of the book, you feel a certain closeness to Yasmin. You can almost smell her fragrance. I have never met her, but after reading all the intimate anecdotes that her friends and family share in the pages of the book, you know that Yasmin is the kakak we all wish we had, the big sister who would not mince words if we deserved a good shelling, who would be quick to hold out a caring hand if we tripped and fell.

In conjunction with the Malaysian book launch this weekend, there will be a two-day screening of Yasmin's films at Berjaya University College of Hospitality at Berjaya Times Square, Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur.
Yasmin's advice to a jittery copywriter before a
big presentation to big shots.

All proceeds from the sales of the book, priced at RM35, and tickets at RM20 for each day, go to Mercy Malaysia for the Yasmin Ahmad Fund for children. (Do read 'A Heart of Gold' - Mercy Malaysia's first anniversary tribute to Yasmin. She was only 51 when she left us on July 25, 2009.)

Movie Schedule:
Sept 8, Saturday
 • 1pm, Rabun
 • 3pm, Sepet
 • 5pm, Gubra

Sept 9, Sunday
 • 1pm, Mukhsin
 • 3pm, Muallaf
 • 4.30pm, Talentime



Above: Of all the heart-warming TV commercials that Yasmin directed, this was her personal favourite.



Above: Yasmin's creative work was always focused on togetherness and inclusiveness. I am sure Yasmin would want all of us to celebrate our National Day (31 August) and Malaysia Day (16 September) in the same spirit of oneness as captured in this 2008 video that she directed.

Postscript: Attended Day 2 of Yasmin's Film Fest. It turned out to be a Tear-Fest! Watched ""Mukhsin", "Muallaf" and 'Talentime'. That's me with Yasmin's younger sister, Orkid, and Jovian, editor of "How You Know?" Photo taken at the film-fest.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

TIME TO CHANGE OUR MYOPIC VIEW OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Kelly Cartwright of Australia wins the gold in the long jump (photo: xinhuanet)

The 2012 Paralympics is currently being held in London from 29 August to 9 September. Watching some of the events on Youtube left me completely in awe of these superhuman Olympians. They truly embody the London Olympics slogan "Inspire a Generation" for who would not be inspired by their achievements?

I am reminded of Dr William Tan, 55. I first met him in 2010 and was so impressed that I wrote about him in an earlier post. A Singapore neurosurgeon, Dr Tan won international acclaim when he became the first man to participate in the 2005 Antarctica Marathon in a wheelchair. Since then he has gone on to complete several marathons across the world. Despite being diagnosed with stage 4 leukemia in April 2009, he continued to be actively involved in charity events and inspiring others through his motivation talks.

I have friends who have disabilities. While they may not be in the same league as the paralympians, they are nonetheless quietly showing us that they are just as capable of doing whatever we 'normal' folks can do - if we just change our negative perception of them and remove barriers that prevent their full integration into our society.

Two days ago, I attended a Disability Equality Training (DET) workshop conducted by Peter Tan, a certified DET trainer. The session was an eye-opener for me. I learned, for example, that there is a distinction between saying 'the disabled' and 'people with disabilities', between 'wheelchair-bound' and 'wheelchair users'. The take-home message was that we should actively work towards removing environmental and attitudinal barriers that hamper the full participation of people with disabilities in society.

Peter shared with us a 2007 award-winning video "Talk". It gave us an insight into what it is like in a society where the majority are people with disabilities who lead full lives and the minority non-disabled people are to be pitied. A reversal of roles.

Do watch the video. It could change forever how we perceive people with disabilities. Hopefully, it will motivate us to initiate 'reasonable accommodation' for people with disabilities at our workplace and in our communities.

Thank you, Peter, for doing an excellent job of correcting our myopic view of people with disabilities. Click here to visit Peter's blog and find out more about DET.