Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme for this year is “Together for a better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development.” On the national front, Hari OKU will be celebrated on December 4 at Wisma Bernama with the theme “KARISMA OKU: Melonjak Potensi.”
Enough with fancy slogans and themes already! It is time for the government to put into action all the promises made during conferences, press conferences and speeches. I have been in a wheelchair long enough to see that nothing much have been done to alleviate the plight of disabled people.
How many buildings in Malaysia comply with the Uniform Building By-Law 34A since it was gazetted by the various states in Malaysia in the 1990s? Can a disabled person move conveniently around his neighbourhood or catch a bus to go watch a movie?
One good thing is that medical treatment at all government hospitals is free for disabled people. Admittedly, I am a beneficiary of this generosity. However, I would have great difficulty going to the hospital if I do not have my own transport. There is no accessible bus service where I stay
Malaysia is rushing headlong to gain the developed nation status in less than a decade. Unfortunately, I foresee that disabled people in Malaysia will still be stuck in third world infrastructure come that time. This status will have no meaning to disabled people who have to struggle with barriers every step of the way.
So please, Dato Sri Najib Tun Razak, Dato Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and all cabinet ministers, I plead to you with all sincerity to make a commitment to make Malaysia a barrier-free nation by 2020. Don’t just celebrate with us on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Take action to enable and empower us. That is what a caring government must do.