DPA’s Response to “Advisor for Disabled People’s Association quits, slams lack of passion and slow pace of change in sector”.

You may or may not have seen the article in TODAY about Mr Nicholas Aw, former President of the Disabled People’s Association Singapore (DPA). In the very personal and frank interview Mr Aw stated his reasons for withdrawing from being an advocate in the disability sector, and no longer being actively involved in DPA’s activities. Although Mr Aw had stepped down from being President in 2017 he remained as an advisor to help with the transition to the new leadership.
The main reasons he cited for leaving the disability sector were his health, his frustrations with the slow pace of change in disability policies, and with some managers in the sector. After the article was published Mr Aw clarified that there were things he said that were not included in the article:
This is a chapter of my life which is filled with challenging but fond and wonderful memories which I will always cherish. I have learnt so much about the disability sector and made so many friends, especially the ones who are different.
On this article, I had said a lot more but it could not be published because of the need for brevity and what not.
I would like to therefore take this, my last ever post on this issue, to clarify some points.
My comments on the sun ray program is not a generalization but a reference to the lack of heart in some of the sun rayians. For some, it’s about being seen as doing good, looking good in the media, titles and doing what needs to be done to get them a PBM and the like.
It’s simply a job to them and a real pity the good ones don’t stay long enough to make a difference in the organization, for one reason or another.
The Purple Parade is about celebrating abilities and its not here to change the lives of PWDs. It’s meant for the non-disabled to learn what it is like to be ‘differently abled’, to recognize those abilities.
What I like to see is for all of us to do our part by living the Purple Parade in our daily lives. How can you do that ? Perhaps start by being a friend to someone who is different.
Finally, a point which I had raised but was not mentioned in the article, and that is my hope for all stakeholders in the sector to work together towards a common objective.”
On Mr Aw resigning as advisor, DPA is grateful for the contribution Mr Aw made to the disability advocacy movement in Singapore. Under his leadership he re-energised DPA and started many important conversations about disability-led inclusion. DPA owes a lot to him and his passionate support for putting advocacy into action.
On this occasion Mr Aw made it clear that the TODAY article was his personal parting view on the disability sector. As a platform for the diverse and rich voices of persons with disabilities in Singapore, DPA is sharing Mr Aw’s opinions, published and unpublished, in full.
Despite growing awareness about the need for inclusion and new policies to support persons with disabilities, DPA believes that change has indeed been slow. The circumstances of persons with disabilities remain difficult and there is still work to be done by all of us to ensure that no one gets left behind. DPA shares Mr Aw’s hope that stakeholders continue to work together towards a common objective, building a fairer society where everyone can participate in all aspects of life from education, to employment, and access to social integration. As part of DPA’s ongoing advocacy approach and our aim to bring both awareness of the need for inclusion and acceptance of persons with disabilities; we continue to support The Purple Parade and its contributors.
DPA also looks forward to continued partnerships with government agencies, statutory boards, and other social service organisations involved in the disability sector. Despite barriers, progress has been made in some areas and policies have evolved, and this would not have been possible without the efforts of all stakeholders.
To read the article please click here.

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