MPSJ’s Myopic View Of Disabled People

Majlis Perbandaran Subang Jaya (MPSJ) and Subang Jaya assemblywoman Hannah Yeoh came out in The Star today talking about parking stickers for disabled people living in Subang Jaya. The initiative by MPSJ to allow disabled people with such stickers to park our car for free at parking places managed by the municipality is commendable.

Hannah was right in saying that disabled people with these stickers do not have to go through the inconvenience of paying at the parking meters. Most of the parking meters are not designed with wheelchair users who drive in mind. Moreover, these meters are often blocked by haphazardly parked vehicles or placed in spots where they are inaccessible to someone who is on a wheelchair.

Although I do not live in Subang Jaya, I do venture out to the municipality for check-ups at the Subang Jaya Medical Center and to run some other errands. I can appreciate the convenience of not having to look for parking with meters that I can reach and decided to check if I could get one of those stickers too. I called Hannah’s assistant Cherrinee Lee twice at the phone number published in the newspaper but it went unanswered. I then wrote her an email enquiring about the stickers.

Dear Cherrinee,

I read in The Star that MPSJ is issuing parking stickers for disabled
people. I do not live in Subang Jaya but frequently go there to run
errands. I am a wheelchair user holding the Kad Kenal Diri Orang Kurang
Upaya and a valid driving license. Please let me know how I can apply for
the parking stickers.

Thank you.

Regards,
Peter Tan

Cherrinee replied as follows:

Dear Peter,

The sticker is issued to all OKU living the areas under the jurisdiction of MPSJ. If you do not live in one of the areas, kindly check with your local authority. Thank you.

I assume that she missed my point in requesting for information on how I can apply for one of the parking stickers. So I wrote back to her:

Dear Cherrinee,

Thank you for your reply. Does that mean that an OKU not living in the
areas under the jurisdiction of MPSJ who parks his car at public parking
spaces managed by MPSJ have to go through the inconvenience of paying at
the parking meters?

Your clarification on this matter is appreciated.

Thank you.

Regards,
Peter

At the time of posting this entry, I have not received a reply from her yet.

Disabled people do not only move around in their respective municipalities. We do go to other municipalities to fulfill commitments and participate in social activities. Therefore, it is short-sighted of MPSJ to only make it convenient for disabled people residing in Subang Jaya while causing inconvenience to disabled people from other places. I am not asking for free parking here. All I want is the convenience to pay parking fees. The parking meters in Subang Jaya do not allow that. Will I be issued with a parking ticket if I park my car without paying because I cannot reach the parking meter?

The inaccessible public transport system in Malaysia has severely restricted the mobility of disabled people. Many of us who need to travel often have no choice but to get a car and learn to drive. It is not cheap to maintain a car especially with the rising fuel price. While MPSJ realises some of the problems faced by disabled people who drive the municipal council lacks the foresight to understand the core issues why people are disabled. People are disabled by attitudes that are bent in deciding what is best for disabled people without fully understanding what the consequences of those actions will lead to. This is evident by the restrictive conditions imposed in applying for the parking stickers.

My take on this issue is that MPSJ wants to portray the municipality as being caring. By making it convenient for some disabled people while disregarding the same problem plaguing other disabled people who visit the municipality but do not reside there, MPSJ has only displayed a half-hearted attempt in this effort. The thoughtfulness in making it convenient for disabled people who drive by issuing these parking stickers is praiseworthy but if one were to look deeper, this exercise is negated by the poor execution of the plan as it still disables people.

The Star
Tuesday September 9, 2008
Free parking for the disabled

THE disabled people living in the Subang Jaya municipality have been urged to apply for free parking stickers at the council.

They are also requested to carry their cards at all time to be eligible for their privileges.
Apply now: Yeoh showing the stickers for the disabled while Adnan looks on.

According to the Petaling welfare office some 298 disabled people in Subang Jaya are registered with it, but only 23 of them had applied for the council’s free parking stickers this year.

Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh said not many disabled people were aware of the stickers.

“This is not a new thing as the council introduced it in 2006,” said Yeoh during a press briefing together with the MPSJ president Datuk Adnan Md Ikshan.

“The stickers will enable the disabled to park their cars for free at public parking spaces that are managed by the MPSJ, so that they need not go through the inconvenience of paying at the parking meters.”

The stickers are not applicable at private complexes or shopping malls.

It is learnt that only seven disabled people had applied for the stickers in 2006, while in 2007, only 17 applications were received.

Yeoh said this was one of the first steps undertaken towards making things more convenient for the disabled.

Adnan added that since 1995, there was a compulsory by-law for any submissions of development order and building plan to include facilities for the disabled.

“However, it was only enforced two years ago,” he said.

Yeoh said she would be having a meeting on Nov 1 with the disabled community in Subang Jaya to be held at the MPSJ building.

“I’ll arrange for some councillors to be around during the meeting so that they can listen to the hardships faced by the disabled and work towards a solution.”

For more information on the stickers call Yeoh’s assistant Cherrinee Lee at 012-291 3358 or e-mail: cherrinee@gmail.com.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Minion to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. Columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. Principal Trainer at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

6 thoughts on “MPSJ’s Myopic View Of Disabled People”

  1. Well Pete,I suppose they would have to look after their constituency first as they were voted in by them. As such, their loyalty lies with the people who voted them in.Same goes for able bodied persons,it lies with the people you voted for in your constituency to make your life a bit better and liveable.We can’t expect the same perks if we’re living somewhere else and especially you voted for another party for example.
    You need to approach the higher ups to make this privilege state wide.
    One could argue,being the devil’s advocate, that when you drive, you don’t go alone as you would need help to unpack your wheelchair,get off and on am I right? There would then be an able bodied person to feed the parking meter.Just an observation and covering all sides of the argument- no offense meant.

    Peter:
    Whether we have someone accompanying us is besides the point. Anyway, I have many disabled friends who drive and travel alone. As disabled people, we also want to be independent without having to rely on non-disabled people to assist us all the time. We also want to go everywhere and anywhere. Unfortunately this cannot be achieved because of all the barriers in the environment. Since the MPSJ has already realised that it is a hassle for wheelchair users to pay at the parking meters, the parking stickers should be extended to disabled people from outside the municipality who frequent Subang Jaya. Such stickers should not be viewed as a privilege as MPSJ through its omission in making the parking meters usable by disabled people have greatly inconvenienced us when we need to pay at the meters. On that account, MPSJ should make amends by offering the stickers to disabled people who apply for it.

  2. There is sometimes a rather fine dividing line between a right and a privelege.By the same token, I could argue that manufacturers of washing machines should provide free laundry services to OKU who are unable to use their hands as they have not designed user friendly machines for those unable to use them.
    Waiving of parking charges is a privelege not a right as you are getting something that an able bodied person would have to pay for.I’m sorry but that my view so lets agree to disagree on this buddy! C’est la vie.

    Peter:
    Your analogy of the washing machine is way out of point to the extent of being unreasonable. Washing machine manufactures are not like municipal councils. The former is a business concern and sell their products as is. The latter has a duty to ensure that its services and facilities are functional and accessible to the public which disabled people are part of. Disabled people have the right to live independently which is the very same rights you and everyone else has a claim to. If you had read my entry properly, you would have read that I said I am not asking for free parking. However, if the municipal council makes it impossible for me to pay my parking fees, then I am asking for a reasonable solution to that problem which MPSJ is already extending to disabled people residing in the municipality. Is the municipal going to lose anything tangible by extending the sticker to other disabled people? I did not say that it is a right to have the parking fees waived when it comes to disabled people. This is called reasonable accommodation which if implemented is not going to cause undue hardship to anyone. So tell me, in cases where disabled people drive alone, how do you suggest they use the parking meters that are not accessible? Do not go to such places or just stay at home and not go out at all? Of course you are entitled to your opinion but that does not mean that you are right. Perhaps, we can debate this further over a cup of healthy fruit juice when you are in town. 😀

  3. Lets not venture into who’s right or wrong.I never make assumptions on who is right or wrong,its a zero sum game.
    I don’t wish to be drawn into another round of parry and thrust so I’ll just stop right here.We’d both end up with bruised noses and no ground gained.Good Night buddy.

    Peter:
    It was a good debate though. This has given me a better understanding of how disabled people are still being stereotyped in issues like this. There is a lot of work for disability rights advocates to educate the public especially on the social model of disability as opposed to the medical model of disability. As for what is right or wrong in such matters – right is when disabled people are empowered by the removal of disabling factors and given the opportunity to achieve equality in society; wrong when the implementation of official policies puts disabled people at a disadvantaged position due to prejudices and misconceptions about disability. It is as simple as that.

  4. I’m happy to have stumbled across your blog while doing research for brainandspinalcord.org, a U.S. based spinal cord injury website/blog. It’s very interesting to see the perspective of a wheelchair user in a different country. This post clearly shows there is still a lot of work for advocates all around the world.

    Peter:
    Welcome. 🙂

  5. Hi! Peter
    I believe ‘Disabled Parking Sticker or we called it Disabled Parking Permit’ should be a national initiative and not just a regional or catchment privilages. Disabled people do travel and they like able bodied people do like to explore different principalities. Disabled drivers would wish to see equality amongst their drivers and not been discriminated from one town, area, region or state. So I trust the central government could see sense and restructure their policies accordingly.
    Best regards
    Anthony Khong
    Councillor, Ivybridge Town Council.

    Peter:
    Yes, it should be a national initiative. Totally agree. In the meantime, while such a policy is not in place, we have to start with the municipalities. As it is, most of the accessible parking spaces are being occupied by non-disabled drivers. There should be a central issuing body for parking stickers to reduce abuse and enforcement must be stepped up to punish offenders blatantly abusing these parking spaces. I am very interested to know how it is being done at where you are serving. Please do share if you have the time.

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