Thanks to Palmdoc who blogged about the Garmin Nuvi 200, I realised that I do not have to lose my way in unfamiliar territory again, especially in Petaling Jaya and other parts of Selangor. Wuan and I have been checking around for an affordable GPS device for us to get off our usual beaten track for some fun and adventure. Most of the time, our weekend jaunts are to Mid Valley Megamall, 1 Utama and Ikano with occasional trips to Suria KLCC and Pavillion – occasional because parking at those two shopping complexes are prohibitively expensive.
I went for a check up at SJMC last weekend because the lump in my scrotum has actually gotten a little bigger. The urologist was not too worried about it and assured me that it is not cancerous and is most probably a cyst caused by an infection previously. An appointment has been made for an ultrasound of my scrotum next month for the urologist to get a better picture of what is happening down there.
After the check up, Wuan and I went to Subang Square to collect the Garmin Nuvi 205W that we booked. From there, we planned to go to Ikano. The nifty little device took us on a path we would not have taken but we got where we wanted to all right. Now, our weekend do not have to be visits to shopping complexes only. We plan to venture a little farther out using the Nuvi 205W to exercise our photography skills. It has been a while since I last shot images of unfamiliar subjects.
Datuk Ong Tee Keat, Robert Wang and Peter Tan at Pandan Perdana.
Photo by Wuan.
My fellow advocate Robert Wang and I had planned to meet the Member of Parliament for Pandan Datuk Ong Tee Keat who is also the Minister of Transport regarding the problems with using public transport that disabled people all over Malaysia are facing.
As luck would have it, he came to Pandan Perdana to launch the Tasik Perdana Family Day last Sunday. Robert and I “ambushed” him as he was about to leave after a press conference. He stayed back for a while to listen to the two of us telling him about the problems with RapidKL, Rapid Penang, Star LRT and the built environment in general.
We also intimated to him that we have met with the previous Minister of Transport, other government officials and representatives from RapidKL but nothing much was done to resolve the issues. Unfortunately, according to him, RapidKL does not come under his ministry but under the Ministry of Finance. Nevertheless, Datuk Ong requested that we furnish him with more information on our complaints for him to understand the issue better.
Disabled people are funny people – funny in an ironic way. On one hand, we are asking that our fundamental rights be respected. We demand for equalization in opportunities. We want to be treated equally. On the other hand, we are also demanding for privileges. We want to enjoy discounts on everything – bus fares, phone bills, road tax and toll charges among others.
We should realise that one cannot see both sides of the coin at the same time. It is either heads or tails. If we want to be treated as equals, then we should be playing our part as equals. We cannot have the cake and eat it too. If we want the same services or facilities that other people are enjoying, then we should be prepared to pay the same price that everyone else is paying.
Rights and privileges are not interchangeable. We must understand the difference between the two. Privileges are things that are given out of goodwill and can be taken back at the wink of an eye. Rights are inalienable. It is not something that can be bestowed or revoked at whim. And rights must come first before anything else. That must be the priority in all disability advocacy activities.
At a time when our rights to accessible built environment and public transport in Malaysia is virtually non-existent, it is rather disappointing to hear my peers fussing over the 50% discount on bus and LRT fares provided by RapidKL to disabled people. By asking for such petty handouts, we are discarding our dignity to portray ourselves as objects of charity, pity and sympathy. Is that the impression that we really want to propagate about what disabled people really want from society?
That was exactly what happened at a meeting organised by the Malaysian Confederation of the Disabled (MCD) last Saturday to facilitate a survey conducted by the Malaysian Institute of Transport (MITRANS) based at the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Shah Alam. The survey was to collect data on the public transportation needs of disabled people for the Master Plan on Public Transportation Policy that was commissioned by the Ministry of Transport.
Instead of focusing on the importance of equal access which is the main stumbling block in mainstreaming disability, some participants were bent in complaining about not getting the discount on bus and train fares. Please lar people, when tens of thousands of disabled people still cannot use the public transport, why are we talking about discounts? Have we become so petty that we only care for ourselves without a concern for those who are in situations worse off than ours? I am disappointed that people I regard as my peers in disability advocacy have lost sight of the big picture. We have truly missed the forest for the trees.