“Berdirilah kalau berani! (Stand up if you dare!)”
It is déjà vu all over again on the first session of Malaysia’s Twelfth Parliament. The above was the challenge issued by Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Radin to Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh. This happened after Karpal called Bung Moktar a bigfoot. Karpal sustained severe cervical injury in a traffic accident in 2005 and is currently using a wheelchair.
While Karpal’s derision was uncalled for, I take offense at Bung Moktar’s retort. Knowing that Karpal is unable to stand and yet using such a low brow challenge just goes on to show how shallow a person Bung Moktar is. I take this as an affront to all wheelchair users. We may not be able to physically stand up but that does not mean we do not have the courage to fight injustices perpetrated against us.
If Bung Moktar’s attitude is a reflection of how the Malaysian society sees disabled people, we should never ever use the word “masyarakat penyayang” again. I truly hope this is not so. If this is how Bung Moktar view disabled people – that because they cannot stand up they lack courage – then I weep for the disabled people who have voted him into Parliament. They would have gotten more respect had they voted for an orang utan or even the bigfoot.