2011 In Review

2011 has been a great year. So many good things happened that I can only declare this the most interesting one yet. If only every year could be like this. Never mind that it began by having me to pay nearly RM6,000 including fine, for failing pay tax that I did not realise I had to. Like a good citizen, I promptly paid up to avert being taken to court or get blacklisted and prevented from travelling overseas.

The highlight was certainly getting the Tilite ZRA Series 2 titanium wheelchair. It was the culmination of three months of researching on getting the right measurements and cushion, and seeking advice from the good folks at CareCure Community Forum. To all who had responded, my sincerest gratitude for helping me get my first rigid chair and best one to date. My posture has improved tremendously. I like how my reflection looks now. I also got the FreeWheel which attaches to the footrest and allow the wheelchiar to traverse rough terrains better as compared to the tiny front casters.

Japan was hit by a massive earthquake in March off the pacific coast of Tohoku. A devastating tsunami quickly followed and damaged three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and caused a major meltdown. While I grieved for the tens of thousands who lost their lives, are injured, missing and became homeless in the aftermath, I breathed a sigh of relief to be informed that my friends in Tokyo were safe.

April brought sad news of a death in the family. My ah tneoh, husband of the youngest maternal aunt, passed away. Ah Tneoh, Ah Cheng Ee and Eng Keng, my cousin, were as close to me as a family as they ever could be. Among them, I have always felt loved. I am still grieving over his passing. Rest in peace Ah Tneoh.

This is a busy year of facilitating workshops and training on disability. In April and May, I co-facilitated with Dr. Kenji Kuno on Disability Equality Training for Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and Malaysia counterparts at PLPP Bangi and the Return to Work Section of the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) at Menara PERKESO in Jalan Ampang respectively. In August, I co-facilitated with Dr. Naziaty Yaacob and three others on Access Audit Training for SOCSO for the Return to Work Section at Wisma PERKESO in Jalan Tun Razak.

The Star published an article that I submitted on my experience as a person with spinal cord injury. The piece titled “Moving On” was for the Close to Heart column. I would like to thank Cheng Bee of Star 2 for giving me this opportunity to personally share my life in a mainstream newspaper. Unfortunately, I was unable to submit more stories. Somehow, I could not find the time to gather my thoughts again for another article.

The best gift for this year is undoubtedly from Wuan. She gave me the Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone as a birthday present. I like most of the features but the one that I use most often is the 8 megapixel camera. Although I am still learning to capture nice images with it, I created a photoblog called Quick Takes to showcase some of those images.

For five days in October, I commuted to daily to AirAsia Academy in Sepang to co-facilitate as a senior trainer for DET for the DET and DSRT Training the Trainers Programme. The trainers from Thailand and Indonesia would be conducting those trainings for the ground and air crew of AirAsia on disability. I had participated in a one-day mock training at the same venue in September. The training itself was interesting but the daily commuting that took 90 minutes daily truly worn me out at the end of the training. Nevertheless, I am glad I could pass on what I have learnt for the trainers to apply in their own countries.

Healthwise, my kidneys have been holding up pretty well. The renal profiles in March, July and December did not show significant changes. My cholesterol level is a different story though. Due to my sedentary lifestyle they are elevated. I was advised to go on Lipitor to keep it in check. I will be taking it for two months beginning today and then get my blood tested for side effects.

I got to know of Tim Abbott throught Twitter. He is the host “Technical Difficulties”, a radio programme on disability for Resonance 104.44fm which is based in the United Kingdom. Tim invited me to go on the air for a live interview with him in the show in November. That was my first one-on-one live radio show with a station in the United Kingdom. Among the topics we covered were my experience with disability, and the built environment and public transport in Malaysia.

To cap up a year filled with facilitating workshops on disability, the Counselling, Career and Disabled Persons Section of University of Malaya invited me to conduct a workshop on DET for the university’s staff and students on December 29. The infrasturcture of the university itself is generally still inaccessible. However, I am happy to see that the participants were eager to exact change to ensure that disabled people have equal opportunities to study there.

Of all the things that happened this year, I am most thankful that Wuan has been very supportive of my endeavours. Nobody says it better than Anne Murray in her song Nobody Loves Me Like You Do. Wuan, I hope I am as good a companion as you have been to me. I pray that 2012 will bring us many more blessings.

To family and friends offline and online, I thank you for enriching my life. To new friends, I am thankful for you coming into my life. Please know that I cherish your friendship although we may not interact much. One time or another, and especially when I go through the list in my phone and Facebook, I tell myself how blessed I am. Know that you are part of what shapes my outlook in life.

With that, I wrap up my year in review for 2011. My only regret is that I could not blog more often. The irresistible Facebook and Twitter took up much of my online time. If there is anything that I like in 2012, it is to see the government taking more pro-active actions to empower and enable disabled people for us to achieve equality in all areas in society. Happy New Year everyone!

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.