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May 13, 2008
I met my Wuan online!
Teoh El Sen
PETER GABRIEL TAN (www.petertan.com), who will be 42 soon, got married six months ago to someone hemet online nine years ago.
She is the most wonderful person who is supportive of the things that I do,” he says.
And he’s quick tomention that she has a photoblog (www.wuan.org). Peter’s weblog is called The Digital Awakening with the tagline Living One Day At A Ttime.
I became a tetraplegic at the age of 18 when I dived into a swimming pool and suffered spinal cord injury. I havebeenusingawheelchair since,” says Peter, born and bred in Penang but currently based in Kuala Lumpur.
SpinalCordInjury(http://sci.petertan.com/) was the first site he created, and that was in 1997. And since then, a fewmore.
But Peter aims to take a break, as “I have written all that needs to be written in more than 300 entries.
I have nothing new to say anymore….
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a peer counselor for the Independent Living Programme for People with Disabilities.(http://www.cilpenang.org) Essentially, I conduct programmes to empower severely disabled people to regain their selfrespect, understand their rights in society, evaluate their goals in life and work towards that.
I am also an advocate for an accessible and inclusive Malaysia. At the moment, disabled people face great difficulty because of attitudinal and environmental barriers. Many are unable to move around safely and conveniently due to the lack of accessible facilities and public transport. Infrastructure should be created to cater to the diverse needs of society, not only for people who can walk, but this is usually not the case. That is why there is a real need to advocate in the interest of disabled people who are still being marginalised and left behind in mainstream society.
How and when did you start to blog? I had several websites hosted at Geocities in the early 2000. Manually updating the links to existing pages each time I added new pages was tedious. It was also during that time that I began to read blogs and noticed that updating was done at the back-end effortlessly.
I posted my first entry at Blogspot on January 28, 2003, and have never looked back since.
Any reasons? I kept a diary before that.
Blogging is a natural extension to it. I had no idea how it would turn out. I just wanted a space to pen my thoughts and the story of my life. Being able to share it with other people was a bonus.
What have you achieved through blogging? The greatest gain from blogging is the many friendships that were forged with readers who live in places that I never imagined I would ever visit. We would not be able to get to know each other if not for my blog.
I’d like to believe that through my blog, I have given disability a face toMalaysian society that disabled people are just like everyone else. We have needs, emotions, ambitions and would love to lead fulfilling lives.
We are no different fromthe people that you meet everyday in the market, of!ce or shopping complexes.
Thewonderful thing about blogging is that it allows me to do what I do more effectively to a wider audience.
Through my blog, I disseminate information on disability.
Whenever the opportunity arises, I stress on the Social Model of Disability which states that people are disabled by attitude and the environment rather by their conditions. I am glad that they now have a better understanding of these issues and are supportive of the cause that I amadvocating.
Do you have any regrets through blogging? None whatsoever.
How has blogging changed your life? I have learnt a lot about myself at a deeper level.
Each time I put thoughts into words, I challenge myself on my understanding of the issues that I am writing on. Blogging has allowedme to bring out my inert emotions and ambitions. That has made me realise many things about myself and matters that are close to my heart.
I like writing and photography.
This blog has allowed me to do both in the same place. Apart from that, I like tosavourgoodfoodalthough that has been severely curtailed by the low-protein diet that I have to follow because ofmy kidney disease.
The ‘blogosphere’.What does itmean to you? It’s the place where we say the things that we do not usually say in real life.
Who is your absolute favourite blogger? To me, the integrity of a blogger is of utmost importance.
They must stand by what they write come hell or highwater. I do not have one favourite blogger but I have high regard for social- political bloggers who, knowing the risks, still openly reveal their identities and write critically on current issues.