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A Caring Society Reacts

April 22nd, 2004 - Thursday

We are a society of reactive people but that is not our fault. We each have our own cross to bear that blinds us to the needs of others who are less fortunate. Most times, we are caught up in the daily grind of trying to make ends meet, trying to meet deadlines, trying to keep our sanity intact. We have one thousand and one trivial chores in our minds that barely leave enough room for the essential and the genuinely important concerns that should capture our attention.

Following the news of the totally paralysed man in Hong Kong who had asked the legislators there to start a motion to legalise euthanasia yesterday, the Direction Association for the Handicapped (DAH) has initiated a fund raising drive to raise HK$5 million (RM2.4 million) to help him, identified by the media as Peng Chai. The news link is here.

The DAH is an organisation that serves the severely disabled people in Hong Kong. The amount raised will be used to acquire an electric-powered wheelchair and a portable respirator, both which would allow him a great amount of mobility and the luxury of going home, where two maids will be hired to look after him. For a man who has lived thirteen years of his life in a hospital bed, this progression will be freedom unparalleled.

On all accounts, Peng Chai is a courageous and thoughtful man. He did not want to burden his family. Only those who are nursing a family member who is totally and permanently paralysed will know the amount of mental pain and the intense labour that goes into the caring. To him, death was the only way out. To a caring society, his death wish was a slap in the face. More could have been done to help him, and that is exactly what they are doing now, only after the story was highlighted in the media. This should not be the case. Why now only after thirteen years? Still, it is never too late. I pray that Peng Chai will accept the offers of assistance and go on living. The quality of life should not be measured by health and physical abilities alone. It is the mind that makes all the difference.



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8 Responses to “A Caring Society Reacts”

  1. james says:

    I think it’s wonderful that people have responded to give Peng Chai a new lease of life. At least he’ll have a very viable option now to go on living. Stories like this reaffirms my faith in mankind.

    I hope Peng Chai will choose to live.

  2. petertan says:

    James,
    Presented with these options, at least there is hope that his life will change for the better. For every story like Peng Chai’s, there are tens of other similar sad tales that have gone unnoticed and untold. Let’s pray that each and every one of those deserving cases gets highlighted and due attention given.

  3. tkkang says:

    Glad you picked up on this news. Have been reading around to understand what people think – disABLED and professional alike. Like your statement “Why now only after thirteen years ?” I have some partial answer – My advice given 12 years ago for his rehabilitation went to deaf ears. It has come back to haunt us.

    I am reminded by this statement I used in my paper at: http://www.hku.hk/epdcc/tkkang/abipaper.html

    “When Others Speak for You, You Lose”. These are the words of Ed Roberts, a founder of the US Independent Living Movement who practised what he preached when he was alive.

    Speak up.

  4. tkkang says:

    The advice was directed to professionals.
    He needed rehabilitation in a rehabiltation environment away from a hospital setting – but choice was restricted because he is on ventilator.
    He did received the best of care in hospital nevertheless. Nurses were good – I remember getting good help demonstrating modem dial-up for remote self-help. However it takes more for successful rehabiltation and environment is critical.

  5. petertan says:

    Hospitals are not the best places for long term rehabilitation. General ward nurses are not trained for this. I agree that environment is critical. I am lucky that I have very concerned parents who put rehab as the first priority. They made sure that I have the right equipment and physiotherapy, and it helps that I was under the care of the best physiotherapist in Penang.

  6. tkkang says:

    Ha.. then you should discipline yourself to follow the physiotherapy regime. There is also forming of human relationship which last and drives a person to live on. Many new development here in the HK local news. You insight is the best I read so far – from the heart!!

  7. petertan says:

    One of the reasons why I do not exercise nowadays is because I spend too much time online reading trash and blog stalking.

    Thank you for the compliment. After twenty years as a tetraplegic, I guess I can consider myself an authority on such matters. Experience is the best teacher.

  8. Beng99 says:

    huh? what? i mean who’s there?
    (tot i heard someone knocking at my door, knock knock?)