Every December 3, we observe the International Day of Disabled People (IDDP). The theme for IDDP 2010, as promulgated by United Nations Enable, is “Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals towards 2015 and beyond.” The website also suggested how this day may be observed, namely:
Include: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for participation by all stakeholders – Governments, UN system organizations, civil society and organizations of persons with disabilities – to focus on issues related to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the MDGs.
Organize: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns in support of the Day focusing on disability issues and development, finding innovative ways and means by which persons with disabilities and their families can be further integrated into the development agenda.
Celebrate: Plan and organize performances everywhere to showcase – and celebrate – the contributions by persons with disabilities to the communities in which they live as agents of development and change.
Take Action: A major focus of the Day is practical action to mainstream disability in all aspects of development, as well as to further their participation in social life and development on the basis of equality. Take action to highlight progress and obstacles in implementing disability-sensitive policies, as well as promote public awareness of the contributions by persons with disabilities to the development of their communities.
I see no joy in celebrating this day dedicated to disabled people. The only reason I am writing this is to put on record my disappointment at how, despite promises and assurances by top politicians, people in high government positions, people who can effect change from both sides of the political divide, barriers that have been preventing full participation by disabled people have not been eradicated.
True, new public infrastructure have accessible facilities, but these, like I have pointed out in the “Circle of Mobility for Disabled People” are islands in an ocean of barriers. There is simply no convenient connectivity from one point to another, even in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. What more can disabled people living in the other cities and towns throughout the country expect?
As far as I can see, nothing much has changed from 26 years ago. Nothing much has changed since the gazetting of the By-Law 34A of the Uniform Building By-Law in the mid 1990s that specifically requires buildings to be accessible to disabled people. What has changed since the Persons with Disabilities Act came into force in 2008? And what has changed since International Day of Disabled People 2009? The concluding paragraph of last year’s entry is food for thought.
Talk is cheap. I have heard ministers, wives of ministers and government officials talk about making life easier for disabled people. Many of these “positive announcements” are archived in this blog. As far as I am concerned, nothing has changed. 1Malaysia kah or Rakyat Didahulukan kah, disabled people are still marginalised in every way through ommission, ignorance and discrimination. The people in government should stop talking and start working towards achieving equalisation of opportunities for disabled people. Just resolve our issues. It is as simple as that. We do not need the government spending money celebrating this day but not doing anything afterwards. No thank you!