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Rapid Penang – OKU Kena Tipu Lagi

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Rapid Penang bus at junction of Chulia Street and Penang Road

On November 26, 2007, I blogged the following:

Is the OKU Card issued by the Department of Social Welfare not good enough? Why is there a need to inconvenience applicants by asking them to get certification from government doctors or the Health Ministry as well? That is not all! Why in heaven’s name do they need a photo showing the impaired anatomy? This is ridiculous. This is disregarding the dignity of disabled people. What? The doctor’s report is not good enough also? The OKU Card is not valid? The people in RapidPenang think the officers in the Department of Social Welfare do not know what they are doing?

Do the people in RapidPenang know what physical disability is in the first place? Can they determine that from a photograph? I am disabled from my chest down. Do I need to pose in the nude to prove it should I intend to apply for the card? Furthermore, why burden disabled people by asking them to incur extra expenditure in getting their anatomy photographed?

If RapidPenang is sincere in giving out concession fare to disabled people, they should make the process as simple as possible. An OKU Card issued by the Department of Social Welfare should be sufficient. I believe RapidPenang’s intention is to alleviate the financial burden faced by disabled people. This noble effort is spoilt by overzealous people that are not in touch with disability issues or have never met disabled persons before. Shame on you RapidPenang for degrading the dignity of disabled people.

After much protest from the disabled community in Penang, Rapid Penang finally revoked the condition for a photograph showing the body part of physical disability. This was conveyed through a mailing list. Rapid Penang also informed members of the mailing list that they have issued a statement to the media regarding this issue but I could not find the news report online. Nevertheless, Rapid Penang still made it mandatory for disabled people who want discounted fares to apply for the concession card.

For two consecutive days since yesterday, The Star published two news reports that senior citizens and disabled people who are registered with the Department of Social Welfare need only to show the OKU card to enjoy half fare on RapidKL and Rapid Penang buses. This should have been the case in the beginning. Who were the smart alecks in the Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad, RapidKL and Rapid Penang who imposed the previous conditions that only the concession card holders were eligible for discounted fares? After all that fuss, now all disabled people need to do is to flash the OKU card. What a waste of time and resources for everyone involved in the exercise.

But, do not be mistaken that disabled people can ride the RapidKL and Rapid Penang buses. Wheelchair users are still not allowed to board the RapidKL buses with the wheelchair logo that are running in the streets now. This is because the Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) refused to give the go-ahead to RapidKL to endorse the buses due to safety concerns regarding the ramps and wheelchair docking systems. The buses were supposed to be officially launched by a minister on June 1, 2007. So now we have buses that were fitted with accessible features at great cost that wheelchair users cannot use. As far as I know BEAT has washed its hands off working with RapidKL on this issue and prefer to concentrate on AirAsia.

As for Rapid Penang, disabled people were informed that 40 of the 150 buses operated by the bus company had ramps for wheelchair users initially. Unfortunately, according to Rapid Penang, the bus stops were damaging the ramps and they had to be dismantled to avoid further damage to the buses. This is evidence of another slipshod work by the people involved. I believe no study was done to ascertain the condition of the bus stops and other infrastructure before the buses were fitted with the ramps. In addition to that, there is no communication between the bus operators, namely RapidKL and Rapid Penang with local authorities to come to an agreement on the standard design of bus stops and all connecting pathways to the bus stops to make them accessible and complement each other.

There was also talk that Rapid Penang will bring in another 100 buses with facilities for wheelchair users. If I am not mistaken, these buses were slated to be put on the road by the end of 2007. We are already into the second month of 2008 but no such buses are in sight. Disabled people have been disappointed again and again by one too many sweet assurances such as this. Despite all the hard work by disabled people and a small group of concerned supporters advocating for accessible buses in Penang, there is no hint that such buses will be made available in the near future.

Wheelchair users in Kuala Lumpur and Penang are still left out from the public transport system. There is no way to move around conveniently. To put it crudely, disabled people have been conned once again. Lets not talk about a masyarakat penyayang when there was never any sincerity in looking after the interests and welfare of disabled people in the first place. All my entries on RapidKL and Rapid Penang are ample proof of it. So what if I have the OKU card? So what if I can get 50% discount with it? There is no way I can ride on these buses. I would not mind being charged the full fare if the buses are wheelchair-friendly. But none are. Truly, disabled people have been taken for a ride over and over again. Apa macam Pak Lah?

Nation
Saturday February 9, 2008
MYT 8:13:36 PM

Show Social Welfare ID to get 50% off on Rapid buses

By K. SUTHAKAR

PENANG: Effective Monday, senior citizens and the disabled registered with the Social Welfare Department need only show the identification cards issued by the department when travelling on Rapid Penang and RapidKL buses to get a 50% discount.

To reduce red tape, the Government has done away with the requirement for them to apply for the Rapid Card, issued by the companies.

“We want to simplify things. It is sufficient for them to show the card issued by the department to obtain the 50% ticket concession,” said Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop.

He was speaking to reporters at the St Nicholas’ Home here on Saturday.

Rapid Penang chief executive officer Azhar Ahmad, who was with him, said it takes about two weeks for the company to process each card application.

He said about 10,000 senior citizens and 400 disabled people travelled daily on Rapid Penang buses.

Nor Mohamed said the problems that prompted the one-day strike by Rapid Penang bus drivers last Monday had been resolved.

“It is a small problem. When there is a problem, we look at it positively and resolve the matter quickly,” he said.

Thousands of bus commuters rushing for work and last-minute Chinese New Year shopping were left stranded on Tuesday when the drivers brought transport to a standstill.

Nation
Sunday February 10, 2008

Hassle-free way to enjoy concessions

PENANG: From tomorrow, the disabled and senior citizens registered with the Social Welfare Depart-ment need only to show their identity card issued by the department to enjoy half fares on Rapid Penang and RapidKL buses.

To reduce red tape, the Govern-ment has done away with the requirement for them to apply for the Rapid Card issued by the companies.

“We want to simplify things. It is sufficient for them to show the card issued by the department to obtain a 50% ticket concession,” Second Fi-nance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop told reporters during his visit to the St Nicholas Home here yesterday.



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RapidPenang Wants Photographic Proof Of Disability For Concession Card

Monday, November 26th, 2007

UPDATE: After receiving protests and feedback from NGOs and disabled persons, RapidPenang has waived the requirement for medical certification and photograph of impaired anatomy for applicants of the concession card. Now, applicants only have to submit a photocopy of the card issued by the Department of Social Welfare.

When I read some of the emails that I received this morning, I got annoyed. RapidPenang is giving concession cards to senior citizens and disabled persons. This is a good move although not something that I would advocate for. Concession fare is a privilege, not a right. Nevertheless, many disabled people barely earn enough to support themselves and any measures like these are appreciated.

However, the people in RapidPenang are in dire need of education on disability. They impose ridiculous conditions on applicants. This is what RapidPenang corporate communications and creative department assistant manager Yap Lee Ying said as reported in The Star on November 24, 2007 in its Northern edition:

“Disabled applicants are to bring a copy each of their MyKad, Welfare Department card, government doctor or Health Ministry certificate, relevant association card, two passport-sized photos and a 3R photo showing the body part of their physical disability,” she said in a statement yesterday.

Is the OKU Card issued by the Department of Social Welfare not good enough? Why is there a need to inconvenience applicants by asking them to get certification from government doctors or the Health Ministry as well? That is not all! Why in heaven’s name do they need a photo showing the impaired anatomy? This is ridiculous. This is disregarding the dignity of disabled people. What? The doctor’s report is not good enough also? The OKU Card is not valid? The people in RapidPenang think the officers in the Department of Social Welfare do not know what they are doing?

Do the people in RapidPenang know what physical disability is in the first place? Can they determine that from a photograph? I am disabled from my chest down. Do I need to pose in the nude to prove it should I intend to apply for the card? Furthermore, why burden disabled people by asking them to incur extra expenditure in getting their anatomy photographed?

If RapidPenang is sincere in giving out concession fare to disabled people, they should make the process as simple as possible. An OKU Card issued by the Department of Social Welfare should be sufficient. I believe RapidPenang’s intention is to alleviate the financial burden faced by disabled people. This noble effort is spoilt by overzealous people that are not in touch with disability issues or have never met disabled persons before. Shame on you RapidPenang for degrading the dignity of disabled people.

M E T R O

North
Saturday November 24, 2007

Rapid Penang concession card registration begins Monday

PENANG: Rapid Penang will distribute registration forms for special concession cards for senior citizens (aged 60 years and above) and the disabled from Monday.

Its corporate communications and creative department assistant manager Yap Lee Ying said the forms would be available at its headquarters at Lorong Kulit here from 8am to 5pm on weekdays and at its information counter in Weld Quay from 6am to 11pm daily.

“The senior citizens are required to bring two passport-sized photos and a copy of their MyKad.

“Disabled applicants are to bring a copy each of their MyKad, Welfare Department card, government doctor or Health Ministry certificate, relevant association card, two passport-sized photos and a 3R photo showing the body part of their physical disability,” she said in a statement yesterday.

A processing fee of RM2 will be charged for applications before Feb 29 while the charge is RM5 thereafter.

For details, call 04-2381313.



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RapidKL And RapidPenang – Will Disabled Persons In Malaysia Ever Get To Ride in Public Buses?

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Najib also said that the Transport Ministry was taking steps to address complaints by the disabled community that RapidKL and Rapid Penang buses were not disabled-friendly despite their earlier appeals.

The Star – Thursday August 9, 2007: New, bigger LCCT to be built

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s statement concerning RapidKL and RapidPenang is most welcomed. However, nasi sudah jadi bubur. It is good if the Ministry of Transport make good the statement by Dato’ Seri Najib but I should not be faulted for being cynical. Despite assurances by Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop in the press on March 18, 2007 that RapidPenang’s buses will be “disabled friendly” none were. On top of that RapidKL Chief Operating Officer Mohd. Ali Mohd. Nor informed the Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) during a meeting on March 10 that the 150 buses for RapidPenang would be accessible to wheelchair users which obviously was misleading.

Retrofiting the buses already running on the roads in Penang is going to cost a lot more as compared to bringing in non-step buses in the beginning. The reason for not acquiring non-step buses for RapidPenang was given by Penang State Traffic Management Committee Chairman Dato’ Dr. Teng Hock Nan on April 26. He was reported by The Star in Buses for disabled later to have said, “The state government will bring in buses equipped with facilities for wheelchair passengers once the new RapidPenang bus system is running smoothly” because “buses with facilities for wheelchair passengers would have to stop longer for boarding and could disrupt arrival schedules.” I wrote an entry to rebut his baseless and discriminatory statement.

As for RapidKL, 100 non-step buses that they brought in were fitted with ramps and wheelchair docking systems without consultation with disabled persons on whether the fittings would be functional and safe. When BEAT viewed the buses for the first time after they were fitted, we informed Mohd. Ali Mohd. Nor that the ramps were too short and were poorly designed. In later meetings with RapidKL Corporate Communications Division Senior Manager Katherine Chew we were told that the fittings were of international standards. When questioned further what international standards were used, we were told on one occasion that it was the Swedish standards and another occasion the Australian standards. Whatever standards that were used, they certainly did not meet Malaysian disabled persons’ standards as the ramps and docking systems were neither safe nor functional. The accessible buses were to be launched on June 1 has been postponed indefinitely because of those concerns raised by BEAT.

In a meeting on May 25 chaired by the Timbalan Ketua Setiausaha (Perancangan) Kementerian Pengangkutan Malaysia Datuk Long See Wool regarding accessibility in public transport initiated by Minister of Transport Dato’ Seri Chan Kong Choy, BEAT was informed that RapidKL buses do not come under the Ministry of Transport. The Ministry of Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development are responsible for issuing licenses to buses and taxis. Therefore Datuk Seri Najib’s statement that “the Transport Ministry was taking steps to address complaints by the disabled community that RapidKL and Rapid Penang buses were not disabled-friendly despite their earlier appeals” came as a surprise. Which ministry exactly is in-charge of RapidKL? I would also like to know what steps the Ministry of Transport are taking to enable disabled persons, especially wheelchair users, to use public transport. Why was this issue not addressed at the planning stages of RapidPenang especially when BEAT had already handed a recommendation to Dato’ Seri Chan Kong Choy on March 12? The following is an extract from the recommendation:

Pengangkutan Awam Di Pulau Pinang
BEAT mengalu-alukan pengumuman oleh Perdana Menteri pada 20 Februari 2007 bahawa Rapid KL akan menubuhkan satu rangakaian bas awam di Pulau Pinang yang diberi nama RapidPenang. Kami berharap RapidPenang tidak membuat kesilapan sama seperti di Lembah Klang di mana keseluruhan perkhidmatan bas awam adalah tidak mudahcapai dan tidak mesra OKU.

Kami berharap Kementerian Pengangkutan bekerjasama dengan Kementerian Kewangan dan mana-mana kementerian lain yang berkenaan untuk mendapatkan bas non-step untuk kesemua 150 buah bas yang dibeli kelak. Golongan OKU tidak seharusnya menderita disebabkan oleh kesilapan sesetengah pihak yang tidak mengambil kira keperluan OKU dan mereka yang mengalami kesulitan pergerakan yang ingin menggunakan perkhidmatan bas awam.

Pada masa yang sama, rancangan rel bandaraya Pulau Pinang yang telah diluluskan mesti mudahcapai kesuluruhannya apabila beroperasi nanti. Tidak ada sebab yang munasabah mengapa golongan OKU disisihkan lagi dalam projek ini yang sepatutnya memanfaatkan semua lapisan masyarakat.

Dalam pada itu, kami menyeru Kementerian Pengangkutan, Kementerian Kewangan, Rapid KL, RapidPenang dan mana-mana pihak yang mewakili pengurusan projek tersebut untuk berbincang dengan pihak-pihak yang mempunyai kepentingan (stakeholders) dalam perkhidmatan bas awam di Pulau Pinang, khususnya pengguna-pengguna bas dan pertubuhan-pertubuhan OKU untuk menyelami keperluan mereka serta mendapatkan maklumbalas dan keperluan mereka dalam pembangunan yang terbaru ini.

I rest my case.



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