There are Many Ways to Become a More Inclusive Society…

Giving Paralympics double gold medalist YIP PIN XIU a million bucks is one way.

It is but one way.

For the past few days, there’s been quite a lot of online discussion and campaigning for Yip Pin Xiu to be given the same amount as Joseph Schooling. The argument runs along the lines of how we should be an inclusive society and that the achievement of a Paralympic athlete is not any less than that of an Olympic… You can find all the reasons why we should give her one or maybe even two million dollars in prize money HERE.

I can see where those people are coming from. I totally understand the rationale, and I totally get why they think and feel that way. In fact, there were even times when I felt happy that people actually cared.

Then the campaigning got a little ridiculous. In the sense that when the other camp that thinks there’s no need to give the same amount to both said something, the campaigners would fight tooth and nail and start calling people names. Not so pretty, if you ask me. Weren’t they just caling for inclusiveness just moments ago? Whatever happened to letting people have their own opinions then? You know, the whole ‘people are people, we’re same same but different and so we can co-exist’ concept? Did that get thrown out the window the moment someone disagrees with them?

Yes, you guessed right. I belong to the latter camp. The camp that thinks there is no need to adjust Yip’s prize money to match that of Schooling. And you know what? Even Yip herself has said SHE’s NOT RACING FOR THE MONEY.”.

via AsiaOne
via AsiaOne

For the past few days, I even felt like I was a mean person. Like am I the only one who don’t think it’s necessary?

Then I read THIS ARTICLE BY GODFREY ROBERT and went nodding all the way. YESH! So I ain’t alone in thinking what I think.

Of course, this seasoned sports reporter got whacked as the campaigners started calling him heartless, and asking if he didn’t consider that Yip might read his article, how we oughta be more inclusive, blah blah blah…


 

Did someone contact all the righteous netizens of our land to come out in full force to campaign for Yip?

And then I came across yet another piece on this topic. Guess Godfrey Robert’s right; this debate is continuing to rage on.


 

Now I don’t usually agree with Daniel Yap’s views, but this article of his resonated with me. He basically said everything that I have been thinking, but of course, he said it a lot more coherently that I would have. You know me, I’m the sort who rambles and rants, and I don’t edit my post before publishing. So yea, one hot mess, hurhur!

I read the comments, and boy, those righteous people are at it again.

On one hand, I feel really, really happy that my fellow Singaporeans want an inclusive society and all that… but inside, I agree with Godfrey Robert and Daniel Yap. Although I think this is one of those issues with no right or wrong answers. there’ll be different camps regardless of whether the Government or donors match the prize money or not.

via paralympic.org
via paralympic.org

Here’s what I think.

It’s a bit crazy and even pretentious to start making noises now just because schooling won. I mean, it’s not like we didn’t already know that the reward amounts are different. Why, then, did nobody say anything earlier? And, why should the fact that Schooling actually won a gold change anything?

I dont think Yip is ‘shortchanged’ (for lack of a better word)… She had entered Paralympics knowing the prize money ain’t a million bucks. So it’s not like the deal changed or the goalpost shifted or circumstances are different for her after Schooling won. We’re not treating her like a lesser person just because we don’t match the prize money. Mind you, the worth of neither Schooling nor Yip should be measured by the amount they receive. None is more superior nor inferior to the other, coz they’re different. Just like you and I are different.

Yes, like I said, I can understand the other camp’s rationale. Yes, it’s tough being a para-athlete and all, lots of hurdles to cross, including basic stuff that we able-bodied beings take for granted, like even getting to the grounds for training is probably more arduous.

But it’s just too one-dimensional and even simplistic thinking (naive even?) to think that we are reaching or working towards inclusiveness just because we match their prize money. The Paralympics come by every four years. If this is what we do and do only, then we’re just trying to wayang and hoodwink ourselves into thinking we’ve reached a certain stage of maturity in inclusiveness.

Let’s not pretend.

If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s obvious to see how lacking and so behind in other areas when it comes to helping the handicapped and disabled people function ‘normally’ in our society, for them to go about their lives like the rest of us.

I’m talking about accessibility, be it in the public spaces, transport transport or what-have-you’s. And I’m talking about advocating for companies to hire them, or look into redesigning facilities and jobs so that people with disabilities can work too, just like the rest of us.

I’d rather we spend the money on these things.

And most importantly, we have to work on mindset change in people, to not stare, to offer the same opportunities in work, in life, to suitable candidates. To me, these things are more important than fighting for to match the prize money. That’s just too ‘tokenism and for the sake of symbolism’.

The Olympics and the Paralympics are just two different games, just like the Olympics is different from SEA Games, ASEAN Games, so the rewards are different. What’s wrong with that?

It’s the small, small things in everyday life that needs work, methinks.

It’s the everyday things that really count towards making us more inclusive, gracious and kind.

One comment Add yours
  1. Totally agree with you, I am also one of those who don’t think Yip should get the same as what Schooling gets. It’s really typical of Singaporean to be always talking about money, money, money. Everything to them is about money. Is the Paralympics same as the Olympics?
    Btw, you should write more and post more often on your FB too.

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