When Self-Enablement Is Not Enough

I am living with tetraparesis – muscular weakness of all my four limbs. My hands are weak although I have functional use of my arms. I have learnt to live with paralysis and the necessity in doing things differently where I can and use adaptive aids where I cannot.

I renovate the house for wheelchair access. I get the best wheelchair I can afford so that I can be more independent. This is also to protect my shoulders from repetitive strain injury and to improve my posture. Even the wheelchair cushion to protect my buttocks from developing pressure sores costs more than RM1,000.

I got a car, installed a hand control kit and learnt to drive because public transport service is scant when it comes to fulfilling the needs of disabled people who need to move around. Nevertheless, I still prefer buses and trains to driving because I can dispense with the need to transfer from wheelchair to car and vice versa every time I go out.

Over the years, I have spent a handsome amount for adaptive aids and renovations to enable myself to the best of my ability. That, unfortunately, is not enough for me to live a truly fulfilling life. The world outside is fraught with barriers the moment I get out from my house. Danger from bad design and construction lurks at every turn of the corner.

What I cannot understand is why the government continue to allow barriers to be put up despite recognising the importance of accessibility to the built environment for disabled people as promulgated in the Persons with Disabilities Act. Why cannot our country, in the spirit of Malaysia Boleh, put in effort to make the infrastructure accessible to everyone?

Kuala Lumpur Bonsai & Orchid Show 2012 – Part 1/3

The inaugral Kuala Lumpur Bonsai & Orchid Show 2012 was held at the Taman Botani Perdana in conjunction with the Petronas Formula One Malaysia Grand Prix 2012. Taman Botani Perdana is formerly known as the Lake Gardens. This even was organised by the Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL). Wuan wanted to see the bonsai on display there. We went on Sunday afternoon with the sky threatening to pour any minute. That was also my first visit to the park.

As we were not familiar with the grounds, we parked at the farthest end of the park from where the show was held. Apparently, the park does not have accessible parking and we had to make do with the regular-sized one. The good thing about the entire place is that it connectivity between walkways and roads are almost seamless. Visitors in wheelchairs will be quite at ease moving around.

Stalls offering food and drinks, herbs, ornamental plants, bonsai and orchids like the road leading to the exhibition. It was a rather long stretch of upward slope that would have been difficult for me to traverse independently without Wuan’s assistance. We were to discover later that we could have accessed the exhibit area from another car park just beside Bukit Aman. We also discovered several ramps leading to the amphitheatre and other parts of the park that we would like to explore the next time we go there again.

We spent some time appreciating the meticulous work that went into crafting the bonsai. Some of those miniature trees must have been decades old. I also read that, if well taken care of, bonsai will outlive their creators as these trees can grow to be a few hundred years old or more. The orchids too were an attraction by themselves. Their burst of colours were in stark contrast against the restrained flair of the bonsai.

After having satiated ourselves with ogling the exhibits, Wuan and I browsed at the stalls selling plants and herbs. We found and bought two ornamental plants that we were looking for – croton and red button ginger (costus woodsonii). Further down the road, we checked out the stall with a good spread of traditional herbs usually used in home remedies. We would love to include some of them in the garden but there is no more space for any. In the end, Wuan bought the pandan wangi. We three heavy bags of plant in tow, we made a final stop at the lake where Wuan took shots of the resident ducks and geese, and agreed that we would return to the park soon.

Bonsai at the Kuala Lumpur Bonsai & Orchid Show 2012
Hokidachi (broom style) bonsai with berries.

Bonsai at the Kuala Lumpur Bonsai & Orchid Show 2012
Moyogi (informal upright styles) bonsai.

Bonsai at the Kuala Lumpur Bonsai & Orchid Show 2012
Han-kengai (semi-cascade style) juniper bonsai.

Bonsai at the Kuala Lumpur Bonsai & Orchid Show 2012
Moyogi (informal upright style) juniper bonsai.

Inconsiderate Driver of WUS 2722

The following photos were taken at The Gardens Mall. Wuan and I were on our way back to the car after shopping. As we came out from the lift lobby at Level P2, we saw this Volkswagen Polo parked in front of the ramp to the car park. That was not a parking space in the first place. The car was parked so close to the ramp that there was not enough space for me to maneuver my wheelchair. In fact, my wheelchair could not even totally get off the ramp. My legs would have hit the car with the wheelchair’s back wheels still on the ramp. And that was the only ramp to the car park from the lift lobby.

Car blocking ramp at The Gardens Mall
Car blocking the only ramp from the lift lobby to car park at The Gardens Mall Level P2 basement car park.
Photo by Wuan with the Samsung Galaxy S II.

I had no choice but to get Wuan to lift the wheelchair, with me, down the kerb. If I were by myself, it would have been impossible for me to get down to the car park. With access to the ramp blocked, it was also impossible to get to the lift lobby from the car park. I complained to the security personnel afterwards. He came out to have a look but did not seem to take any action in clamping the car for the nuisance it has created.

Access to ramp blocked by inconsiderate driver at The Gardens Mall
Another view of the car blocking the ramp at The Gardens Mall Level P2 basement parking.
Photo taken with the Samsung Galaxy S II.

It is inconsiderate people like this driver that makes life difficult, not only for disabled people, but also for shoppers with trolleys and baby prams. This is also the reason why many disabled people are unable to be independent outside of their homes. Apart from the environment being not fully accessible, ignorant and inconsiderate people also add to the problems by making accessible facilities inaccessible.