Inaugural Goh Chok Tong Enable Awards lauds achievements and promise of persons with disabilities

03 Jul 2019

Date: 03 Jul, 2019

Singapore, 3 July 201913 individuals with disabilities were recognised today with the inaugural Goh Chok Tong (GCT) Enable Awards for their exceptional achievements and bright potential in their respective fields. The ceremony was graced by President Halimah Yacob and attended by Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong.

The Awards is an initiative under the Mediacorp Enable Fund (MEF) and is supported by the Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board) as the Founding Sponsor and UBS Singapore as the Principal Sponsor.

ESM Goh, who is also the patron of MEF, said, “The Achievement and Promise awards are to celebrate the accomplishments of persons with disabilities, not only for the challenges they have overcome, but also for who they are and what they can contribute to Singapore if we maximise their potential.”

President Halimah added, “Together, we can build a more caring and inclusive society, where persons with disabilities are recognised and empowered to contribute actively to our society.”

 

High quality nominations

A total of 61 nominations were received for the GCT Enable Award (UBS Achievement) and 86 nominations for the GCT Enable Award (UBS Promise).

Associate Professor Wong Meng Ee, Chairman of the GCT Enable Awards Evaluation Panel, remarked, “The number of quality applications we have received for the Awards testify to the capability of persons with disabilities. It was a challenge to arrive at the most deserving, and those who were not selected have also demonstrated impressive credentials. I hope we can see even more applications in the years to come and inspire more persons with disabilities to excel in their areas of expertise.”

 

Celebrating contributions of three Achievement Awardees

Three exceptional persons with disabilities living extraordinary lives shone through amongst the applications and were selected as recipients of the Achievement awards:

(in alphabetical order)

Mr Michael Ngu, 62

At the age of 5, Michael Ngu contracted poliomyelitis and became permanently paralysed. But this traumatic event did not stop him from rising to the top. He excelled academically; professionally, he shone at top architectural firms, eventually becoming the President and CEO of leading Singapore architecture firm, Architects 61. He represented Singapore at the Asian Paralympic Games 2014 in hand cycling, and more recently, raised funds for a local charity by hand cycling an epic 1,600 km through the UK.

 

Mr Tan Guan Heng, 82

Mr Tan is a familiar face in the social sector, having dedicated most of his life to championing for the visually impaired. Most notably, he was the first visually impaired President of the Singapore Association for the Blind (now known as Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped) from 1975 to 1980, and also served as its President from 2006 to 2012. Mr Tan, who lost his sight through retinal detachment in both eyes while he was studying in university, has also authored several books, one of which, The People's Verdict, was recently transcribed into braille, while another, My Love is Blind, was adapted into a musical.

 

Ms Yip Pin Xiu, 27

Even as a youngster, Ms Yip Pin Xiu stood out for her grit, determination and high expectations of herself. Born with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a neurological condition, she started competitive swimming at age 12, and just 4 years later, at age 16, she clinched the first Paralympic gold medal for Singapore. More sporting success followed, including two Paralympic gold medals at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, a prestigious best athlete award from the World Para Series; and at age 26, Ms Yip has made history again as the youngest person to be appointed as a Nominated Member of Parliament.

Each of the Achievement award winners will receive S$10,000. In addition, to recognise the contributing role of nominating organisations in their success journey, Musical Theatre Ltd and the Singapore Disability Sports Council, which nominated Mr Tan and Ms Yip respectively, will receive S$5,000 each.

“The recipients of the Goh Chok Tong Enable Awards send a strong message that persons with disabilities have ambitions and goals, and the determination and courage to achieve them. These Awards, we hope, will be a catalyst for Singaporeans to look at persons with disabilities in an even more positive light and come forward to support their endeavours,” said Ku Geok Boon, CEO of SG Enable, the fund administrator for MEF.

Mediacorp CEO Tham Loke Kheng said, “The awards recognise people in our community who overcome great challenges to achieve remarkable things and demonstrate that people with disabilities across different fields are driving change, progress and positivity. The awards are also an opportunity to celebrate the extended community of family members, carers and volunteers who support these achievers.”

 

Recognising individuals with promise in their respective fields

In a separate category, 10 individuals who have displayed a high level of potential in a talent or skill were presented with the GCT Enable Award (UBS Promise), which comes with a S$5,000 cash award to motivate them to reach greater heights.

 

They are (in no particular order):

·       Chen Ziyue, 33, a deaf illustrator whose art has graced various published works in Singapore and abroad, and Chalmers Wong, 14, who is believed to be Singapore’s one and only special needs sand artist

·       Joshua German, 22, a budding pianist with autism who plays the piano by ear

·       Visually impaired musician Stephanie Ow, 23, a professional erhu player

·       Timothy Lee, a 19-year old with Down Syndrome who plays a lead character in Mediacorp Channel 5's long form TV series, KIN

·       Toh Wei Soong, 20, with physical disability and visually impaired Wong Zhi Wei, 17, who have done Singapore proud on the international swimming stage

·       Adelia Naomi Yokoyama, 20, who clinched a bowling gold medal at Deaflympics 2017

·       Muhammad Haikal Bin Johari, 42, an executive chef who went on to guide ‘Alma by Juan Amador’ to Michelin-star success, and Fathima Zohra, 22, who uses her videography skills to tell the stories of persons with disabilities – both are traffic accident survivors with acquired disability.

Speaking about the Awards, Fong Yong Kian, Chief Executive, Tote Board said, “Tote Board is proud to be a sponsor for the Goh Chok Tong Enable Awards as it signifies our progress towards a more inclusive and caring Singapore, to look beyond disabilities and recognise the special ability in all of us. We hope the Awards will inspire many to strive for their best and achieve their fullest potential in life.”

Edmund Koh, President of Asia Pacific, UBS, added, "UBS Singapore has consistently believed in developing the potential of youths, whatever their abilities, by investing, nurturing and helping them to achieve their full potential and promise. To this end, UBS is delighted to be part of the Goh Chok Tong Enable Awards, sponsoring the UBS Achievement and Promise awards to help the beneficiaries to excel in their academics and pursuits of success.”

 For more information about the Awards, eligibility, nomination and evaluation processes, please visit www.mediacorp.sg/gct-enable-awards.