Speech by Dr. Alexis Tam, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture
Speech by Dr. Alexis Tam, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government at the Opening Ceremony of Rehabilitation International Asia and Pacific Regional Conference 2019
Honourable Dr. Chui Sai On, Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China,
Honourable Ms. Zhang Haidi, President of Rehabilitation International and Chairperson of China Disabled Persons’ Federation,
Respected Ms. Maria de Fatima Santos Ferreira, President of the General Assembly of Fu Hong Society of Macau,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
First of all, I am most honoured to speak to you all at the “Rehabilitation International Asia and Pacific Regional Conference 2019”. On behalf of the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region, may I take this opportunity to welcome guests to the city of Macao. I would also like to express my gratitude to Rehabilitation International (RI) for the supports, as well as Fu Hong Society of Macau and all the supporting entities for the efforts made to bring this Conference to Macao today. My sincere appreciation also goes to local enterprises for their contributions in promoting industrial rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation International is an important force in the global effort to advance the cause of achieving a just and equitable society and development for all. Here in Macao, making our communities, workplaces and society accessible for and inclusive of persons with disabilities is also a goal we have made real strides towards over the past few years. Since the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region almost 20 years ago, the SAR Government has been fulfilling the requirements of the “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” and implementing the “Incheon Strategy to ‘Make the Right Real’ for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific” within the framework of our Basic Law. We work closely with non-government sectors to build a rehabilitation service system centered on people with disabilities and their families. Strengthening mechanism for intersectoral collaboration will improve the efficiency of our service delivery. Fu Hong Society of Macau is one of our partners in helping persons with disabilities develop their skills and integrate with the society.
In order to construct a society based on equality and inclusion, we know we need more than a charitable or medical approach to disability. The SAR Government has implemented an evaluation system for the type and degree of a disability, so as to effectively gain access to data on the disabilities of the local population. As of May 2019, there are approximately 13,500 people who hold valid Disability Assessment Registration Cards, which consists of 2% of the local population. Permanent residents in Macao who are cardholders are entitled to collect disability allowance, enjoy free public healthcare services and public transportation. Persons with congenital disability will also receive disability or elderly pension from the Social Security Fund. Besides, in the scope of services, the Government provides case and family support, daycare centers, temporary nursery and shelter service to persons with disabilities and their families. For those with special needs, especially persons who have been assessed with medium or severe level of disability, there is comprehensive and round-the-clock residential care.
On the other hand, we understand that a favourable environment for people with disability is important to promote independence and community participation. In recent years, we have also been working on creating a barrier-free environment in society. The “Architectural Standards for Barrier-Free and Universal Design in the Macao SAR” was implemented in 2018 to standardize and update relevant design specifications and to add barrier-free facilities in various public buildings, advocating the participation of civil institutions and private enterprises in relevant projects.
Accessibility for persons with disabilities isn’t just about the physical environment. They also need a positive environment for personal advancement through training and education. The SAR Government also provides support by means of vocational rehabilitation, social enterprises and employment support, as well as funding and tax concession to people with disabilities, so that they are able make the most of their abilities and be self-reliant. Moreover, we pay great attention in providing early treatments and special education by establishing the “Children Comprehensive Assessment Centre” and the “Children Rehabilitation Centre” to help children with developmental disabilities, thereby laying a good foundation for their future lives.
To maintain the momentum for further changes and continue to drive forward on our policy of rehabilitation and social reintegration, the SAR Government is implementing a “Ten-Year Plan for Rehabilitation Services of the Macao Special Administrative Region 2016- 2025”. The Plan aims at guiding the systematic and sustainable development of rehabilitation services so that they are appropriate, timely, affordable and above all, effective. I trust that you will learn more about this Plan from our Social Welfare Bureau later on in this Conference.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This Conference serves as a catalyst for change and actions. There are present and substantial bonds of mutual interests among you. Your meetings and what emerges from them will have a positive impact on the future delivery of our rehabilitation services. I am optimistic that by working together, we are helping persons with disabilities to be consistently included in, and benefit from, the opportunities that are available to everybody in the society.
Once again, it’s a great pleasure to have all you here with us in Macao. Besides our UNESCO World Heritage, Macao is also a UNESCO-designated Creative City of Gastronomy. I hope while you are here, you will take this opportunity to explore the sights and sounds of our city. What’s also worth your time here is taking a gastronomic tour where Michelin-starred restaurants will amaze you alongside our countless choices of local cuisines and street delicacies. Last but not least, I sincerely wish the Rehabilitation International Asia and Pacific Regional Conference 2019 a resounding success and I hope that this gathering will bind you in friendship and co-operation. I am looking forward to welcoming you, your families and friends to Macao again before too long.
Thank you very much!