My Newsradio Scripts

These are my old radio news scripts on Singapore's current affairs when I worked as a broadcast journalist.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

In Your Neighbourhood #9 - Bizclean II

Somewhere in your neighbourhood, a special group of Singaporeans is working to find their rightful place in society.

Hi, welcome to In Your Neighbourhood with me Chong Ching Liang as I look at how intellectually disabled Singaporeans find work and respect.

The intellectually disabled are the most misunderstood group of Singaporeans.

Sometimes, those who love them are over-protective thereby stifling their personal growth, while those who don't know them misunderstand them, often wrongly equating their condition as mental problems.

For this reason that it's difficult to find work for these abled persons.

Bizlink's an organisation that's constantly working very hard to match disabled Singaporeans to jobs.

It's Placement and Marketing Officer, Joseph Chan on Bizlink's role.

"Bizlink's role is actually to identify potential and willing disabled workers to join in this project. Beside this, Bizlink is also trying to make this domestic cleaning service known to household through some marketing efforts like the distributing of fliers and through the radio medium."

But it is a long hard slog given that Bizlink has to combat prejudice and ignorance.

"Actually we did approach a few major cleaning companies to partner with us in this startup. But most were not keen or were a bit apprehensive about the idea. So in the end Bizlink approach Marine Parade CDC for assistance."

Marine Parade CDC gave Bizlink's abled clients a wonderful gift - the gift of being able to earn their own living in the pilot project named Bizclean.

Were the Marine Parade residents concerned about this special group of workers?

The CDC's General Manager Teoh Zsin Woon gives this surprising reply.

"Actually those were our concerns rather than the residents'. When we started out, we were a bit afraid that some of the clients involved in this projects might not meet the standards required by the households employing them for this service or even not accepted by the household that's employing them. But actually as it turns out, we in fact have many interested phone calls from our residents and they appeared very open to engaging them for cleaning projects within their homes."

In a speech recently, Minister without Portfolio Lim Boon Heng says that disabled persons are sometimes picky about the jobs they are offered.

But there are reasons why relatives or parents of intellectually disabled Singaporeans are picky and it isn't because of occupational snobbery.

Occupational Therapist in Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore, or MINDs, Silvaraj Mahendra explains.

"Some previous incidences there have been abuses that have happened, it could be a physical abuse or sexual abuse where our kids because of their innocence and their inability sometimes to understand between right and wrong. They may tend to be abused. Secondly, most of the jobs given sometimes for people with intellectual disabilities are within the factory-like settings which of course have a greater occupational hazards than most of the in-house office jobs. So a lot of parents have become protective."

Bizclean has been in existence for almost a year, how has it performed?

Zsin Woon gives this update.

"I am please that for those who were trained earlier, they actually had on-going clients. That means the households who employ them to do a few hours per week. So it shows that they are performing very well and the households that engaged them are looking at a long-term sort of employment arrangements."

The fact that these abled persons are doing well is not surprising.

The jobs are chosen specially for them according to Silvaraj.

"In terms of skills, especially for some of the MINDS clients which tends to be quite low functioning, such jobs especially the cleaning industry were very very suitable and based on previous experiences when we have placed clients in the cleaning industry, they tended to remain in their jobs for a longer time. And that's the reason why we chose cleaning industry."

Once employers get past their prejudices and ignorance, they may actually find that the intellectually disabled are quite ideal workers.

MINDs Silvaraj again.

"This' actually a testimony from a lot of large employers. One they find them a very compliant, very obedient worker. Two, in fact this is quite interesting from some of the employers who find that these guys do not engage in any office politics which can be quite damaging. Three, they can be your dedicated long-term employees because they don't job hop. They don't move around. And fourth thing, because of the social context of going to work, and going to work is meeting people, and being in a work situation is so socially stimulating that they rarely want to take MCs, they can sometimes be even more productive than able-bodied worker."

So what about the future of this project, any optimism, Zsin Woon?

"I'm actually very optimistic about the prospects of this project. Definite it takes off and the demand is there, I will see the CDC as supporting strongly, Bizlink and MINDS to even include even more clients with intellectual disability to be involved in this training programme."

Biz-clean, it is a project where the intellectually disabled clean up their clients' household but it does more than that.

The project also clean up Singaporeans ignorance and prejudice about intellectual disability.

This is Chong Ching Liang, for Newsradio 938.

Related Websites:
Newsradio 938




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