When Getting Something Instead Of Nothing Is An Achievement

“If we forever accept the minimum we will always be treated as a community of people who can be easily pushed around. Subsequently whenever we voice out our needs and problems people will never take us seriously anymore.”

I told Christine that as we were discussing the state of the disability movement in Malaysia this morning. That is the kind of mentality that is swirling around in the minds of our peers. Sad but true. Some I attribute to decades of being oppressed. Those I do not blame because they do not know better. What I cannot buy are veteran leaders of the movement who are agreeable to less for reasons best known to themselves. Many of them have come to a stage where getting something instead of nothing is considered an achievement. In that sense, we are no better than mongrels waiting to feed on morsels falling off the dinner table.

It also does not help that non-disabled activists running organisations serving disabled persons think that they know everything about disability issues. Talk is cheap. They interfere in the advocacy process without fully understanding the situation. Ultimately, disabled persons have to live with the damage and consequences of such unqualified meddling. In the meantime, these activists go on living their merry lives, oblivious to the damage they have done to the development of the movement.

As long as we, the disabled persons, see ourselves as lesser human beings we will never be treated with respect. We sell out our dignity by believing that rights are privileges. Both are not interchangeable. It is time we realise this and stand up to claim our rightful place in society. It is time we stop sabotaging each other’s efforts in an attempt to be the sole champion of the movement. In instances like that, nobody wins but everybody loses. It is only through working together that we can make a united stand and make our voices heard. Make or break – the choice is ours.

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.