My Differently-Abled Friends

Dusk at the Northam Beach Cafe.

If success in life can be measured by the number of friends one has, I must be on a roll lately. After a fruitful one month in Kuala Lumpur where I got acquainted with more bloggers than I could count with all my fingers and toes, I came back to Penang and got an invitation to a gathering organised by Kuan Aw yesterday evening. He is the founder and current Deputy President of the Society of Disabled Persons Penang (SDPP).

L-R: Yeap, Me, Kuan Aw, Win Hon, Anne and Christine.

It was a casual affair at the Northam Beach Cafe with some of Kuan Aw’s friends and his two guests from Kuala Lumpur – Christine and Win Hon. That was the first time I have met any of them including Kuan Aw. Twenty years being a disabled and that was the first time I have attended a gathering where most of the guests are in the same condition as I am. We had an interesting and enlightening time sharing our lives and the difficulties that we encountered.

L-R: Me, Christine and Kuan Aw.

One thing we all agreed on is that much can still be done to improve the mobility of people like us. The government is simply not doing enough to make it easy for us to live independent lives. The SDPP has been active in promoting access for the disabled in public places here but we foresee a long battle ahead. Facilities for the disabled are put up only to comply with legislations. Many of these are not constructed to specifications thus rendering them non-functional and dangerous at times. Such is the sad state of affair where the disabled community is concerned.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

15 thoughts on “My Differently-Abled Friends”

  1. you live an interesting life.

    Yes, I agree that government is not doing enough for the disabled compared to other countries. I have read people comment that Malaysian government did not provide sufficient facilities for the disabled.

    a blog reader
    – Life Feel

  2. peter, did you get to meet kuan aw’s wife, martha? she is an old friend of mine (same church).

    i had met kuan aw once at one of the mid autumn festival gathering (organised by SDPP) and found him to be highly intelligent, with good english and can speak very well.

    yes, as life feel mentioned, you lead an interesting life indeed with lots of friends from both sides. i suppose this is partly because you ARE an interesting person yourself – people just like to get to know you.

  3. Life Feel,
    My life is made interesting by the people I meet. As for facilities for the disabled, more can be done but as we can see, this is not in the list of priorities.

    It is high time I get out and meet more disabled people. I have learnt a lot that evening alone. First in my mind is to get more disabled people blogging.


  4. That’s a great meeting. Kuan Aw had been at it struggling for 10 years or more already and Christine had co-lead a demo in 1994 about STAR LRT’s lack of access back then… you have met some veteran fighters for disabled people’s rights there! That’s what high profile blogging does to you. All the best.

  5. hi peter!!! i actually saw u at northam beach cafe on sunday. spent the weekend in penang. 🙂 but i was too shy to approach u. *blush* i was thinking, ‘isnt that THE peter tan????’ so i freaked out a wee bit….was just about a few meters aways from u. 😉 the foods really good there huh? 😉

  6. LecturerUM,
    Yeah, those are pretty interesting people that I was with that evening. They have contributed much to make public places more accessible. We need more of people like Kuan Aw and Christine.

    Hi anyway… I did not really have the opportunity to get a good taste of the food there. Most of them are taboo food to me but I did enjoy the view. It was simply beautiful. Next time make it a point to come over and say hi if you do see me. 😀

  7. dear Peter,

    is there anyway your blog readers can contact you? such as email or instant messenger?
    I think you can meet many people on internet.


    a blog reader
    – Life Feel

  8. yea I think our country lacks infrastructure for the disabled. even the deaf and blind. if only we are the rulers huh. hehehe

  9. Dear Lucia,

    Martha’s husband is Wong Tin Choy, not me. Wong is also a wheelchair-user. He is the Vice President of SDPP.

    If I am not mistaken, you came with Father Pillay. Glad to meet you here. 🙂

    Kuan Aw

  10. oops so sorry, kuan aw. terrible mistake i made. my most humble apology. i always don’t quite remember martha’s maiden name is tan or wong. (now i know it is tan).

    yes i went with father pillai. glad to meet you here too and hope you get into blogging.

  11. Life Feel,
    My contacts are linked from the top menu.

    I believe the confederation entrusted with overseeing the interests of the disabled are not doing enough in this area.

    Kuan Aw and lucia,
    Wong, Martha and I were in the same POCAM regional committee many years back.

    Kuan Aw and the SDPP have been doing this in Penang for a long time but it is still an uphill battle. The authorities just do not see convenience and rights for the disabled as a priority in their projects.

  12. Hi Peter,

    Glad to see that you are part of such a happenin’ community in Penang.

    Absolutely loved the picture of Penang at dusk.Can you send me a copy of it?Please?

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