Fit and happy to work

Fit and happy to work

Dial housekeeping or the operator at the Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre and you might hear a sweet voice belonging to Ms Sharifah Sakinah Abdul Patar, 23.

And while you ask for extra towels or a wake-up call, you will have no clue that the owner of that voice has cerebral palsy.

At the hotel, a number of the staff have physical or mental disabilities - 13 per cent of 270 employees, to be exact.

The welcoming smile at the entrance belongs to bellboy Mohamad Haireei Suhaimi, 28, who is mildly intellectually disabled.

Says Mr Jagdeep Thakral, 46, general manager of the hotel: "We hope that 20 per cent of the staff will comprise people with disabilities by 2016."

The Holiday Inn is one of the few encouraging examples in a job market that still largely ignores the physically and mentally handicapped - but things may soon change.

Since last month's news that the Centre for Enabled Living, an agency under the Ministry of Social and Family Development, will be renamed SG Enable and focus on helping people with disabilities find work, letters on the topic of employment for the disabled have poured into The Straits Times' Forum page.

While most may deem it a hassle to hire people with disabilities, some employers are turning to them as an alternative source of employment to solve their labour crunch woes.

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