Inappropriate disability-related term: otak kurang upaya

The usage of the term “otak kurang upaya” to describe inconsiderate people who misuse accessible parking spaces irks me no end. This post was written in reaction to the following article:
‘Otak kurang upaya’ – activist slams able-bodied who park in OKU spots

Calling inconsiderate drivers “otak kurang upaya” is derogatory and an insult to those with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities. These are two categories of disabilities recognised by the Department of Social Welfare under the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008.

It is unfortunate that a veteran disabled activist who is also an office bearer of a leading disability-related organisation in the country was reported to have used this term.

Champions of disability rights, whether they are disabled or non-disabled people, should choose their words wisely when pointing out cases like this. Creating awareness by using negative terms like that is counter-productive to the cause.

There are so many other appropriate terms that can be used to describe people who misuse accessible parking spaces like inconsiderate, lacking civic-consciousness, selfish and thoughtless.

People who are interested in protecting the rights of disabled people should think before they speak. And they should begin by not humiliating any group of disabled people when doing so.

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. Columnist of Breaking Barriers in The Borneo Post. Principal Trainer at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.