Jenice Lee with Tan Weng Aun, Wang Siew Ming and Peter Tan.
Photo by Wuan.
Right after the 12th General Election, I thought it would be a good idea to present a memorandum to the incoming state governments on issues of accessibility for disabled people. Although there is a law to compel developers to include such features in their projects, this is seldom enforced. The Uniform Building By-Law 34-A (UBBL 34A) under the Street Drainage and Building Act specifically states that:
(3) Buildings to which this by-law applies and which on .the date of commencement of this by-law have been erected, are being erected or have not been erected but plans have been submitted and approved shall be modified or altered to comply with this by-laws within 3 years from the date of commencement of this by-law.
Fifteen years later now, old buildings have not complied with this requirement while many new buildings do not meet the minimum standards of accessibility. The onus of enforcements falls squarely on the majlis perbandaran (municipal councils) and they have done nothing with regards to this matter.
While the UBBL 34A is a move in the right direction, it is made impotent by indifferent officers within the many majlis perbandaran who are either ignorant of the existence of the law or are not technically savvy enough to understand the accessibility standards. Whatever the reasons, disabled people are left high and dry.
Hence, I wrote the memorandum with the hope that it would move the state governments to compel all municipal councils to enforce the UBBL 34A. Naziaty Yaacob of Inclusive Design for Malaysia provided valuable feedback that completed the document. My friends in Penang submitted the same document with some amendments to reflect the situation there to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng a couple of weeks ago.
Here in the Klang Valley, I secured an appointment to meet with the ADUN of Teratai YB Jenice Lee last Saturday morning together with fellow accessibility advocate Wang Siew Ming and Tan Weng Aun. We presented Jenice with the memorandum to forward it to the Selangor Menteri Besar. We spent nearly two hours discussing about the accessibility issues faced by disabled people and the badly done ramps along the walkways at Pandan Perdana and went through the various points in the memorandum.
At the same time, Wang presented Jenice with the Malaysian Standard MS 1184: Code of Practice on Access for Disabled Persons to Public Buildings and the Malaysian Standard 1331: Code of Practice for Access for Disabled People Outside Buildings. He presented the same books to the previous ADUN before the construction of the ramps but not one of the ten ramps complied with the standards and are not safe to use.
The day before concrete was poured, we specifically guided the contractor on how it should be done. He was annoyed with us for fussing over it. We were very disappointed when we went to check on the ramps after it was completed. He did not follow any of the specifications. That rendered the ramp useless. It was truly a waste of public funds.
We truly hope Selangor will live up to its developed state status and take the lead to become the first state to be generally accessible to disabled people. We have gotten a raw deal for so long and we hope that all the new state governments will seriously look into the problems faced by disabled people and resolve it for once and for all. We would also like to thank Jenice for spending the morning listening to us, making an effort to understand what we are facing and for promising to look into it.