Speed Hump A Hindrance – StarMetro – 6 November, 2012

This article on the speed hump issue outside my house was reported by Fazleena Aziz of StarMetro. The following is my response to several points that Dorothy Cheong raised in the article which was not exactly what transpired between us. She is the ahli majlis MPAJ for Zone 20 of which Pandan Perdana is part of.

In the two email responses to my complaints, she neither suggested any meeting nor ways to resolve this issue. So when she said that she “had asked the two groups of residents to have a discussion about it”, that is not true. She did nothing of that sort.

All the while, she was only interested in maintaining the hump by telling me that it was built at the requests of residents and that she believed “people of my situation” would welcome it as it is for my safety and that of other residents and that I should view this in a positive manner.

I found that statement patronising. How would she know what “people of my situation” go through every day to come to that conclusion? Likewise the MPAJ officer I spoke to earlier parroted the same answer and asked me why I do not like the hump which is for my safety.

In my response to Dorothy Cheong, I told her off for assuming that “people of my situation” would welcome the hump. She never even bothered to meet me to see for herself my safety concerns. I also told her that I have no faith in her as the ahli majlis. It was then that ADUN for Teratai Jenice Lee suggested that MPAJ initiate a meeting to resolve this issue.

Dorothy Cheong was wrong and arrogant to say that it is only one person’s complaint. She must have forgotten that another neighbour went to her office to make a complaint against the hump as well and then went back again to check on the progress of her complaint.

Even if there is only one complainant, the matter should be looked into seriously as it involves the accessibility issue of a disabled person. By making that statement, did she mean that the rights of the minority are not relevant? Is it all right to use the might of the majority to trample over the minority?

There is the matter of residents being asked to sign a petition to support the hump on 24 September, twelve days after it was built, which contradicts her statement that the request was made by 10 residents in July. If MPAJ had already accepted the requests, why the need for the petition after the hump was built?

To date, she has not addressed the issue on why neither the three house owners whose properties facing the hump were not consulted nor their consent sought. Do we not have a say in this matter as the parties most affected? Why was a meeting not called in the first place before the construction to avoid all these problems?

It was only after being interviewed by the press that she suggested moving the hump subject to the agreement of the residents who requested for it. The truth is that she has never conveyed this “option” to any of us complainants before.

Like Wuan rightly pointed out, it is preposterous that we have to ask for their permission to remove the hump when our permission was never sought before they built it outside our house. What kind of logic and procedure is this? Where is justice where our rights are concerned?

This article on the speed hump outside my house appeared in StarMetro on 6 November, 2012
Click on image for larger version.

Penduduk Bantah Binaan Bonggol – Berita Harian – 19 October, 2012

Berita Harian reporter Siti Haliza Yusop wrote this article regarding my complaint about the road hump that was built right beside the driveway outside the house. To date, the issue is still not resolved.

The rights of three property owners and residents whose houses are facing the hump and my right to an accessible environment under the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 are disregarded by MPAJ and the ahli majlis for Zone 20.

The reason for building the hump was that a “majority” 10 residents requested for it in July. I have a neighbour who can confirm that he was asked to sign a petition to support the road hump on 24 September 2012, 12 days after it was built.

The ahli majlis tried to “persuade” me to accept it as she believed that people of my situation (as a wheelchair user) would welcome it as it is for my safety and that of other residents, never mind that the hump is a barrier to my mobility and a hazard to my safety.

Throwing the majority card at me is really irresponsible. So, the rights of the minority do not have to be respected? Is this what they call the “tyranny of the majority”? Is the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 effective in protecting my interests in this situation?

Image credit: MPAJ newspaper cuttings archive.
Click on image for larger version.

Wheelchair-Inaccessible Kuala Lumpur

I have not had the opportunity to explore the older parts of Kuala Lumpur although I have been living here for the past six years. The story of city is hidden in the buildings and roads that are now overshadowed by modern skyscrapers and monstrous structures. Bit by bit, the historical and cultural significance of what made Kuala Lumpur the city it is today is being chipped away in the name of progress and development.

Rakan KL, a people’s movement to preserve the heritage of Kuala Lumpur have been organising activities and walkabouts around the historical parts of the city. Wuan and I participated in the Merdeka Walk 2 lead by Victor Chin last Saturday. It was to begin from Tun Shin Hospital at Jalan Pudu and end at the Chin Woo Stadium at Jalan Hang Jebat.

The magnificent Church of St. Anthony at Jalan Robertson in Pudu, Kuala Lumpur
Church of St. Anthony at Jalan Robertson, Pudu, Kuala Lumpur.

We decided to park our car at the Church of St. Anthony and waited to join the group there as most of the locations in the walkabout are on that side of the road. The last time I prayed the Mass here was in 2005 when the church was being refurbished. Mass was celebrated at the Dewan Dominic of the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre which is just behind the church then.

Stained glass at Church of St. Anthony
Beautiful stained glass windows behind the altar at the Church of St. Anthony in Kuala Lumpur.

The Church of St. Anthony was built in 1911. The magnificent whitewashed facade with its tall spire rose all the way up to the sky. Surprisingly, I could easily enter from the side entrance. The crucifix above the main altar is flanked by two beautiful stained glass windows on each side. Despite the blistering heat outside, the high ceiling kept the air cool inside. As I sat there taking in holiness of the ambience, a soothing calm came over me. It has been a long while since I felt the Grace of God flowing in me.

Sidewalk outside Magnum House in Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur.

From the church, we made our way to the disused car showroom at the junction of Jalan Robertson and Jalan Pudu. The sidewalk, although paved with tactile guide path, had a poorly done kerb ramp that was steep and dangerous for wheelchair users even with assistance. That was a glaring example of doing for the sake of doing without taking into consideration if the facility was useful or not. Making a kerb ramp does not make the sidewalk accessible if they do not conform to accessibility standards.

Taxi stand outside Swiss Garden Hotel
Taxi stand outside Swiss Garden Hotel, Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur.

All along the way onwards, the kerb ramps were too dangerous to be used or were obstructed by street furniture. Whoever built these sidewalks, Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) must be faulted for not ensuring that they adhered to Malaysian Standard MS 1184: Code of Practice for Access for Disabled Persons to Buildings and Malaysian Standard MS 1331: Code of Practice for Access of Disabled Persons Outside Buildings.

Drain grates along Jalan Galloway
These drain grates along Jalan Galloway may trap wheelchair casters and throw the wheelchair user off the chair.

With the sidewalks practically inaccessible, I had to go on the road most of the time while speeding vehicles whizzed by. Drain grates with the grilles running parallel to the road can potentially trap wheelchair casters and throw the user off the wheelchair. The grates are dangerous to cyclists as well. To avoid these grates, I had to go further out on the road to brave oncoming traffic. Fortunately, Felix Kusmanto, a friend from many years ago walked ahead of us to direct traffic away from me. Still, these are the dangers that wheelchair users have to contend with while out in the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

Drain grates that are potential wheelchair traps at Jalan Galloway
Felix directing traffic away from me. I had to get on the road and in the way of oncoming traffic because of the drain grates and inaccessible sidewalk.

The group took a breather under the shade of one of the houses at Jalan Sin Chew Kee. This road is lined with two rows of old houses which are priced over a million ringgit each. This quieter area is in sharp contrast against the busy Jalan Pudu which is just a stone’s throw away. Wuan and I had to abandon the walkabout and turn back here as the way to the other stops was fraught with barriers and other difficulties that made it a gargantuan task to traverse on a wheelchair.

Jalan Sin Chew Kee is a residential area off Jalan Pudu
Jalan Sin Chew Kee is an oasis of calm in the hustle and bustle of Jalan Pudu in Kuala Lumpur.

We took the road between Swiss Garden Residences and Swiss Garden Hotel and came upon drain grates with grilles parallel to the road cut across the road. There was no avoiding it this time. Wuan had to push my wheelchair diagonally against the grates to avoid having my casters fall into the gaps between the grilles.

Drain grates with grilles running parallel to the road that endanger wheelchair users
These drain grates that stretched across the road made it dangerous for wheelchair to go over as the gaps may trap the casters and throw the user off the chair.

It is such a shame for me to discover that the city I now call home is so inaccessible to disabled people. It is impossible to move around independently, conveniently and safely on the streets in a wheelchair. The sidewalks usually have poorly constructed ramps or even none at all. Despite all these barriers, I will attempt to explore more of the heritage areas together with Wuan and Rakan KL before these places are gone forever, swallowed up by cold glass towers and soulles concrete jungles.