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The Suffering Of Disabled People In Najib’s 1Malaysia

November 21st, 2009 - Saturday

The Star in ‘Promote paralympics’, says Najib (November 20, 2009) reported Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as saying that the marginalisation of disabled people is prevalent.

“The marginalisation of persons with disabilities is prevalent and in many countries there are few sports opportunities available to them,” Najib added.

On a brighter note, he said there had been increasing support for the participation of persons with disabilities over the past 20 years.

In line with the 1Malaysia concept of “People First, Performance Now”, Najib said it was important to provide opportunities for people from all walks of life, regardless of race, culture and religion.

I am glad Najib realises that. I hope he also meant disabled people in Malaysia when he talked about marginalisation. Disabled people in Malaysia is one of the most marginalised groups in the country. Having been a wheelchair user for the past 25 years, I can say with certainty that the government is still neglecting the needs of disabled people after all these years, irrespective of what Najib said in his opening speech at the 14th International Paralym­pic Committee (IPC) Conference and General Assembly on Thursday.

Not every disabled person can be a paralympian. Neither do many want to be when our struggles with bread and butter issues are never ending. We cannot go to school to get an education. We cannot get gainful employment. We cannot even move around conveniently. Many disabled people have poor quality of life. Many are living in poverty. They have to depend on their family for sustenance and care. Opportunity is a foreign word to them. Excelling in sports is the least of our worries when we have so many more pressing matters to worry about.

Every now and then, the government will promise to resolve the problems of inaccessibility in the built environment and public transport. All these are just empty talk. Nothing has been done to address these issues seriously. Look at the street environment around you. Are these places safe for blind people and wheelchair users to traverse? Look at RapidKL. Three years after they promised to make their buses accessible, disabled people still cannot board the buses. Likewise Rapid Penang.

Disabled people have met with former Parlimentary Secretary of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun who is now the Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Deputy Minister of Finance Datuk Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen who later became the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development and now the Minister of Tourism, former Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy and current Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat. Even the Prime Minister’s wife Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor mentioned about the plight of disabled people and public transport.

There were promises. There were excuses. And then there were more promises. Still, nothing happened. Disabled people advocating for accessible public transport and barrier-free environment is still being given the runaround. Dear Datuk Seri Najib, please show us where the increasing support for our participation in society is. My disabled friends and I still feel very neglected.

The Star Online
News
Home > News > Nation

Friday November 20, 2009
‘Promote paralympics’, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: Voluntary organisations, the corporate sector and disabled athletes should work together to promote the paralympic movement, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said Malaysian sports leaders were playing significant roles in the Asean, Asian and world paralympic movement.
Sticking together: Hong Kong athlete Yu Chui Yee accompanying Sidkova Marketa from the Czech Republic at the opening of the 14th International Paralympic Committee general assembly and conference in Kuala Lumpur Thursday.

“This is in recognition of Malaysia’s capabilities in championing the paralympic movement,” he said.

Asked whether Malaysia would host the Paralympic Games, he said that if the country were to do so, it would have to be chosen for the main Olympic Games, “which is a tall order”.

“It will not happen in the foreseeable future. You have to be a strong sports nation, make an impact and be a force to be reckoned with at the global level to be considered,” he said at the opening of the 14th International Paralym­pic Committee general assembly and conference here yesterday.

The United Nations estimates that there are about 500 million persons with disabilities in the world, the majority in developing countries, he said.

“The marginalisation of persons with disabilities is prevalent and in many countries there are few sports opportunities available to them,” Najib added.

On a brighter note, he said there had been increasing support for the participation of persons with disabilities over the past 20 years.

In line with the 1Malaysia concept of “People First, Performance Now”, Najib said it was important to provide opportunities for people from all walks of life, regardless of race, culture and religion.


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