An Accessible and Inclusive Society – MARUAH commemorates International Day of Persons with Disabilities

3 December 2012


The theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.

To observe this day, we want to help remove barriers that limit accessibility and participation by persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development. The first part of our initiative is to collate feedback from you and to pass them on to the relevant government agencies.

Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that

‘State Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas’.

The Government has indeed taken steps to improve the lives of persons with disabilities. For instance, the Building and Construction Authority (“BCA”) has set up the “Our Friendly Built Environment Portal” to create awareness on friendly built environments which is key to making Singapore an all-inclusive and barrier-free society.

However, we would to bring more attention to this portal and to complement the feedback mechanism which has been provided at BCA’s website.

From now until 31 December 2012, whenever you come across any area(s) which has been well designed for persons with disabilities or any area(s) which can be improved, please provide us with your feedback in the following format and provide pictures where possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Media reports on MARUAH public forum on Presidential Elections 2011

21 August 2011

Yahoo News and Lianhe Zaobao reported on a public forum organised by MARUAH (Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore), held on 20 August 2011, on the upcoming Presidential Elections.

The links to the reports can be found below.
Yahoo News – ‘Voters’ expectations could shape President’s role’
Lianhe Zaobao – 宪法专家:民选总统职权 有许多“灰色地带”

UPR process to review Singapore’s human rights record

4 May 2011

Singapore’s human rights record will be reviewed at an upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session this Friday.

MARUAH was part of the Coalition of Singapore NGOs (COSINGO), which submitted a joint shadow report in November 2010.

At the same time, MARUAH also submitted its shadow report, focusing specifically on the Internal Security Act and the death penalty.

Questions submitted in advance by several UN member countries have been uploaded to the webpage below.

Also, MARUAH president Ms Braema Mathi is currently at the UN, as part of the process and to raise awareness of the human rights issues currently facing Singapore.

The live video of the session will be streamed at the link below at 3pm Singapore time, 6 May 2011.

Human rights of migrant workers in ASEAN

28 August 2008

At the 7th Workshop on the ASEAN Regional Mechanism on Human Rights (held in Singapore 12-13 June 2008), Ms Braema Mathi of MARUAH spoke on issues faced by migrants workers in ASEAN. We enclose a PDF of her presentation.

MARUAH submits comments on draft CRC report

8 August 2008

MARUAH recently made a submission to the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), as part of a public consultation on the draft report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Having ratified the CRC in 1995, Singapore is obliged to submit a report every 5 years to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

See here for a previous post on this issue.

Below is our submission.

Comments on Singapore’s Draft Periodic Report on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

MARUAH welcomes the Government’s attempts in engaging with Singaporeans’ views in its Periodic Report to be submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. We have been heartened by the response of Singaporeans on this document even though their opinions were articulated in a private context (closed-door event). We look forward to public dialogues between the people and the Government in future forums.

MARUAH notes that the CRC, together with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), is a core human rights treaty that all ASEAN states have acceded to, or ratified. We therefore believe that it is important for Singapore to be a leader within the ASEAN family in upholding the values and obligations of the CRC. Accordingly, MARUAH, as a group focusing on the establishment of the ASEAN human rights body, is glad for this opportunity to be of assistance in the ongoing process of human rights development in Singapore and by extension ASEAN.

MARUAH makes the following comments:

General measures of implementation

1. Declarations and reservations
1.a. MARUAH highlights one of the Government’s reservation on compulsory education
“(6) With respect to article 28.1(a), the Republic of Singapore – (a) does not consider itself bound by the requirement to make primary education compulsory because such a measure is unnecessary in our social context where in practice virtually all children attend primary school;”
1.b. MARUAH calls for the above reservation to be removed in light of the implementation of the Compulsory Education Act in Singapore

2. Dissemination
2.a. Too few know about the CRC, especially children
2.b. MARUAH calls for the CRC to be included in the school syllabus
2.c. MARUAH is also concerned that the draft report was only disseminated in early July 2008, with only 1 month for public consultation
2.d. MARUAH understands that the forum held on 2nd July to discuss the draft report was a closed-door event (as reported by TODAY), and not a public forum
2.e. MARUAH calls for greater public consultation on the CRC report; specifically, MCYS needs to engage the young

Basic health and welfare

3. Children with disabilities
3.a. Children with disabilities are not fully integrated into the education system
3.b. They should be given every opportunity to interact with other children on a regular basis
3.c. Include special schools and all children with disabilities under the Compulsory Education Act

Special protection measures

4. Juvenile justice
4.a. MCYS mentions “Notwithstanding the lower age of protection, there are currently safeguards and protective mechanisms within Singapore’s legislative framework to provide added protection to young offenders between 16 and 18.” (page 98, point 5.3)
4.b. What are the specific “safeguards and protective mechanisms”?
4.c. MARUAH notes that the MCYS report does not address the concerns raised by CRC committee [45a) on following UN guidelines, 45d) on prohibition of corporal punishment during detention]

Optional Protocols

5. MARUAH calls on Singapore to ratify the 2 Optional Protocols under CRC
5.a. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Singaporeans engaged in paedophilia outside of Singapore should be subjected to the “long-arm” of the law.
5.b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict

In conclusion, we at MARUAH applaud the Government and all Singaporeans who participated in this dialogue for producing a document that is worthy of a society that prides itself for its child-friendly family values. We hope the amendments that we seek will be considered, and look forward to contributing to the larger process of establishing a culture of respect for fundamental human rights in Singapore.

Cyclone Nargis: Protect human lives – no ifs, no buts

4 June 2008

Two weeks after Asean foreign ministers met in Singapore in an attempt to persuade the Myanmar government to allow greater access to humanitarian aid workers to the Irrawaddy delta in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, there has been backtracking by the Myanmar government. There are continuing reports of obstruction by officials. Read the rest of this entry »

Cyclone Nargis: Catalyst for change in Myanmar?

16 May 2008

16 May 2008
Source: Reliefweb

Elizabeth Ferris, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy
Lex Rieffel, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development

The December 2004 tsunami that devastated the province of Aceh in Indonesia was a human tragedy but a political blessing in the form of a peace agreement. What are the chances that the dark cloud of Cyclone Nargis, which slammed Myanmar/Burma on May 3, will have the silver lining of being a catalyst for political change? Read the rest of this entry »