RapidPenang – Hopeless Leader Of Disabled Persons Talking Nonsense

Society of the Disabled Persons Penang president Teh Lay Kuan who was spotted with three other association members at the Komtar terminal, said she decided to try out the new bus service after hearing so much about it.

“The service is satisfactory but I hope the state will keep its promise to have disabled-friendly buses and infrastructure like lower curbs and ramps eventually,” she said.

The Star Metro/North – Thursday, August 02, 2007: Rapid Penang bus grinds to a halt

How can the leader of a disabled persons association say that RapidPenang bus service is satisfactory? None of the buses are accessible to wheelchair users. How can she praise a bus company that said boarding wheelchair users will delay bus schedules? Is she not concerned that the group of people that she represents is being openly marginalized by such exclusion?

How can she commend a bus company that said it needed to do a survey first before serving disabled persons but at the same time is willing to run rural routes to serve non-disabled passengers even if the bus usage is very low? Is she not perturbed that disabled persons are being denied the right to accessible public transport which effectively is denying us the right to freedom of movement?

Is she a disabled person feeling the pain of not being able to move around freely and conveniently? Does she even consider herself a disabled person at all? We can make do without such leaders in the disability movement who are not interested in advocating for an inclusive society. We need more effective leaders who are willing to do more than hoping for the government to keep to its promise.

RapidPenang – Disabled Persons Left Out Again

Is ours a government that cares for the wellbeing of all citizens? I am convinced that they are not. Look at RapidPenang, a 100% government owned company. None of the newly launched RapidPenang buses are accessible. Wheelchair users are left high and dry again.

That was despite several assurances by the top management of RapidKL to the Barrier-Free Environment Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) and the announcement by Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop in the press on March 18, 2007 that RapidPenang’s buses will be “disabled friendly.” Contrary to that none of the buses are “disabled friendly.”

These new buses could be running on the streets of Penang for the next 10 to 15 years. Do disabled persons in Penang have to wait for that long with the hope that the replacement buses will be accessible? Ours is a government that does not make sense. Why continue buying buses that not everyone can use when they are already aware that widely available non-step buses will benefit everyone?

As a wheelchair user who is in dire need of an accessible public transport to move around conveniently and independently, I express my absolute disappointment at the empty promises made by the government and the folks at RapidKL. Ours is a government that does not keep to its words. When the government or its agents make promises but do not fulfil them, is that considered lying? Convince me they are not.

The Star – May 23, 2007: Disabled can’t travel freely

Wednesday May 23, 2007

Disabled can’t travel freely

AT THE recently held Forum on Public Transport for Disadvantaged Groups in Penang, State Executive Councillor Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan was quoted in the media as saying that a survey on the needs of the wheelchair-bound would be conducted before RapidPenang can introduce disabled friendly buses for them.

He then went on to say “we must first identify the main areas where wheelchair-bound passengers live and the places they normally travel to.”

The Women’s Centre for Change, Penang (WCC), as one of the organisers to this forum, would like to highlight two basic issues.

The discussion on disabled friendly buses should not focus on the needs of the wheelchair users alone. At the forum, the additional difficulties faced by the visually impaired, the hearing impaired and the intellectually impaired when they use public transport were also voiced.

Hence a more holistic approach to providing barrier-free public transport for all is required. When considering the needs of the disabled, it is not just the bus which needs modification but also the access route/pavement to the bus stop, the bus stop itself and very importantly the attitudes of the bus driver and the conductor (if any).

The comment that “we must first identify the main areas where wheelchair-bound passengers live and the places they normally travel to” suggest that there is no comprehension that a) disabled people live everywhere and b) disabled people may choose to go anywhere.

The state of the public transport in Penang is effectively denying disabled people this right of freedom of movement and hence opportunities to participate in and contribute to society.

It is obvious that those involved in making and implementing policy decisions regarding public transport need to be informed and sensitised regarding the broader issue of disability, the rights of the disabled and independent living.

Women’s Centre for Change, Penang.