Today is the International Day of Disabled Persons. The theme for this year is “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Dignity and justice for all of us”. This day is celebrated worldwide with disabled people coming together to show solidarity and reaffirm our rights as members of equal standing in society. In Malaysia, several event are held in parallel in conjunction with this day. I was slated to give a presentation at the National Conference on Disability 2008 at the Concorde Hotel later in the day. Unfortunately, I had to cancel that engagement as I am still recovering from the cold that I caught last week.
I am not in a celebratory mood just yet. The Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 came into force in July and has yet to show how effective it is in protecting the rights of disabled people. Malaysia is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities but have yet to ratify it and is not a party to the Optional Protocol. Where is the dignity and justice for disabled people when we do not have access to public transport and the built environment with is the crucial link other essential services such as education, employment and even medical? Where is dignity and justice when the government cannot even protect the parking spaces for disabled people from being abused? Need I say more?