The Workers’ Party (WP) has called for Paralympians to be accorded with the same respect and value as the able-bodied athletes and also to receive equal treatment and compensation for their achievements.
Other than congratulating the athletes at the Rio Paralympics in a press statement on 13 September, WP highlighted that the Paralympians embody the values of dedication, sacrifice, discipline, and an indomitable fighting spirit, and they are an inspiration to all Singaporeans. It said the achievements by Para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh demonstrated what Singapore could achieve as an inclusive sporting nation.
WP further noted that the smaller pool of competitors at the Games should not be the reason to deny recognition from the Paralympians and the compensation that is due to them.
“It is only right that they should receive equal treatment as any Singaporean athlete who competes at the highest international levels.” wrote WP and called for the national para-swimmers to receive the same prize awards from the Singapore National Olympics Council as their able-bodied counterparts for their equally important and inspiring achievements.
On 19 September 2008, Mr Teo Ser Luck who was the then-Senior Parliamentary Secretary commented on the disparity of the prizes offered to the athletes, he said, “One of the things that we have to look at is that the Olympics competition level is actually quite different. The Olympics competition is a free world competition. Paralympians can join Olympics. Olympians cannot join Paralympics. That is one thing you look at – the level of competition.”
“Secondly, the base of competition within the Olympics is a lot broader and the base of competition for Paralympics is smaller and is segmentised because Paralympics is based on the disabilities which are classified differently. So that is a different scale of competition,” he added.
The 21-year-old able-bodied swimmer Joseph Schooling won the first golden medal for Singapore at the 100m butterfly event at Rio 2016 Olympics on 13 August and was awarded $1 million monetary award by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), which is part of the Multi-Million-Dollar Awards Programme (MAP) sponsored by the Tote Board and Singapore Pools. Schooling will receive about $650,000 after deduction to Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) for training and development and tax.
On the contrary, the 24-year-old Paralympian swimmer Yip, who has won the golden medal for the second time at the Paralympic games will be awarded $200,000 which is just a fifth of what Schooling is getting. (About $160,000 after deduction and before tax.)
A netizen, Lee Chee Hao wrote on TOC’s Facebook about the prize difference, “A pity for a country that talks about fair and equal treatment for people with disabilities whether at work or to have access to public amenities… How to expect private and MNC companies to follow suit if the top do not set a good role model. Does it mean that people with disability ought to expect lower salary than those who are doing the same job?”
Another comment by Stephen Tan, wrote ” What a disparity and an insult to our para-athletes? And they talk so much about giving 100% support? Do they think her (Yip) achievement is less than any Other olympic athletes? What a disgrace..and yet still can advocate supporting these athletes…“