The Suffering Of Disabled People In Najib’s 1Malaysia

The Star in ‘Promote paralympics’, says Najib (November 20, 2009) reported Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as saying that the marginalisation of disabled people is prevalent.

“The marginalisation of persons with disabilities is prevalent and in many countries there are few sports opportunities available to them,” Najib added.

On a brighter note, he said there had been increasing support for the participation of persons with disabilities over the past 20 years.

In line with the 1Malaysia concept of “People First, Performance Now”, Najib said it was important to provide opportunities for people from all walks of life, regardless of race, culture and religion.

I am glad Najib realises that. I hope he also meant disabled people in Malaysia when he talked about marginalisation. Disabled people in Malaysia is one of the most marginalised groups in the country. Having been a wheelchair user for the past 25 years, I can say with certainty that the government is still neglecting the needs of disabled people after all these years, irrespective of what Najib said in his opening speech at the 14th International Paralym­pic Committee (IPC) Conference and General Assembly on Thursday.

Not every disabled person can be a paralympian. Neither do many want to be when our struggles with bread and butter issues are never ending. We cannot go to school to get an education. We cannot get gainful employment. We cannot even move around conveniently. Many disabled people have poor quality of life. Many are living in poverty. They have to depend on their family for sustenance and care. Opportunity is a foreign word to them. Excelling in sports is the least of our worries when we have so many more pressing matters to worry about.

Every now and then, the government will promise to resolve the problems of inaccessibility in the built environment and public transport. All these are just empty talk. Nothing has been done to address these issues seriously. Look at the street environment around you. Are these places safe for blind people and wheelchair users to traverse? Look at RapidKL. Three years after they promised to make their buses accessible, disabled people still cannot board the buses. Likewise Rapid Penang.

Disabled people have met with former Parlimentary Secretary of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun who is now the Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Deputy Minister of Finance Datuk Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen who later became the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development and now the Minister of Tourism, former Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy and current Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat. Even the Prime Minister’s wife Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor mentioned about the plight of disabled people and public transport.

There were promises. There were excuses. And then there were more promises. Still, nothing happened. Disabled people advocating for accessible public transport and barrier-free environment is still being given the runaround. Dear Datuk Seri Najib, please show us where the increasing support for our participation in society is. My disabled friends and I still feel very neglected.

The Star Online
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Friday November 20, 2009
‘Promote paralympics’, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: Voluntary organisations, the corporate sector and disabled athletes should work together to promote the paralympic movement, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said Malaysian sports leaders were playing significant roles in the Asean, Asian and world paralympic movement.
Sticking together: Hong Kong athlete Yu Chui Yee accompanying Sidkova Marketa from the Czech Republic at the opening of the 14th International Paralympic Committee general assembly and conference in Kuala Lumpur Thursday.

“This is in recognition of Malaysia’s capabilities in championing the paralympic movement,” he said.

Asked whether Malaysia would host the Paralympic Games, he said that if the country were to do so, it would have to be chosen for the main Olympic Games, “which is a tall order”.

“It will not happen in the foreseeable future. You have to be a strong sports nation, make an impact and be a force to be reckoned with at the global level to be considered,” he said at the opening of the 14th International Paralym­pic Committee general assembly and conference here yesterday.

The United Nations estimates that there are about 500 million persons with disabilities in the world, the majority in developing countries, he said.

“The marginalisation of persons with disabilities is prevalent and in many countries there are few sports opportunities available to them,” Najib added.

On a brighter note, he said there had been increasing support for the participation of persons with disabilities over the past 20 years.

In line with the 1Malaysia concept of “People First, Performance Now”, Najib said it was important to provide opportunities for people from all walks of life, regardless of race, culture and religion.

Ambushing Datuk Ong Tee Keat

Datuk Ong Tee Keat with Peter Tan and Robert Wang at Pandan Perdana
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.

AirAsia, Wheelchair Users And Indemnity Form: The Ongoing Saga

With no satisfactory official response forthcoming from AirAsia regarding the policy of imposing indemnity form on wheelchair users after more than two months, I decided to refer my complaint to the Minister of Transport Dato’ Sri Chan Kong Choy and the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Dato’ Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

The complaint was sent via email just now and hardcopies will posted to the respective ministers and three other persons in the carbon copy list, namely Senator Prof Datuk Dr. Ismail Md Salleh, Society of Orthopaedically Handicapped Malaysia President Dr. Tiun Ling Ta and Malaysian Spinal Injuries Association President Dr. Rahim bin Noor. I am a member of both organisations. Not long after the email was sent, Ministry of Transport Secretary General Dato’ Haji Zakaria Hj Bahari forwarded the mail to AirAsia CEO Datuk Tony Fernandes asking him to take action accordingly.

Below is the content of my complaint letter:

4 Januari, 2008

Y.B. Dato’ Sri Chan Kong Choy Melalui emel dan pos
Menteri Pengangkutan
Blok D5, Kompleks D
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan
62616 Putrajaya

Y. B. Dato’ Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil Melalui emel dan pos
Menteri Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat
Aras 1-6, Blok E
Kompleks Pejabat Kerajaan Bukit Perdana
Jalan Dato’ Onn
50515 Kuala Lumpur

Dato’ Sri Chan dan Dato’ Sri Shahrizat,

PER: DISKRIMINASI TERDAHAP PENUMPANG YANG MENGGUNA KERUSI RODA OLEH AIRASIA

Saya ingin membuat aduan tentang perkara di atas yang telah berlaku pada diri saya.

1. Pada 30 Oktober 2007, saya bersama isteri saya telah daftar masuk di Lapangan Terbangan Antarabangsa Kota Kinabalu untuk menaiki penerbangan AirAsia AK 5107 ke Kuala Lumpur. Saya adalah pengguna kerusi roda.

2. Seorang pegawai AirAsia meminta saya menandatangani borang lepas tanggungan (Release and Indemnity). Antara fasal yang terkandung di dalam borang itu adalah:
– AirAsia tidak akan bertanggungjawab sekiranya berlaku apa-apa pada diri saya semasa penerbangan.
– Saya bersetuju menanggung segala perbelanjaan AirAsia yang mungkin disebabkan oleh diri saya dalam penerbangan tersebut.
– Saya telah menandatangani borang itu secara sukarela .

3. Saya telah membantah dengan sekerasnya dan meminta perkara ini dirujuk kepada pihak pengurusan AirAsia di Kuala Lumpur sebab perbuatan yang mewajibkan saya menandatangani borang itu adalah diskriminasi terhadap saya sebagai seorang pengguna kerusi roda.

4. Setelah pegawai itu merujuk kepada pengurusnya, saya diberitahu bahawa sekiranya saya tidak menandatangani borang tersebut, saya tidak akan dibenarkan menaiki pesawat. Saya tidak mempunyai pilihan kecuali menandatangani borang tersebut untuk dibenarkan menaiki pesawat kembali ke Kuala Lumpur. Apabila menandatangani borang tersebut, saya juga telah menulis dengan huruf besar yang terang bahawa saya membantah perbuatan tersebut. Salinan borang tersebut dilampirkan.

5. Saya telah memaklumkan kejadian tersebut kepada Datuk Tony Fernandez dan Encik Bo Lingam dari AirAsia melalui emel. Maklumbalas dari kedua-dua mereka sungguh tidak memuaskan. Sehingga kini, selepas dua bulan, pihak AirAsia masih belum memberi penerangan yang munasabah mengenai syarat ini kecuali mengatakan bahawa ia adalah syarat dari syarikat insurans mereka. Alasan ini tidak boleh diterima kerana Malaysia Airlines tidak mengenakan syarat ini keatas pengguna kerusi roda kecuali satu kesilapan di Jepun di mana Profesor Yutaka Takamine diminta mendandatangani surat lepas tanggungan. Malaysia Airlines telah pun meminta maaf kepada Profesor Yutaka seperti yang Dato’ Sri-Dato’ Sri sudah dimaklumkan.

6. Saya telah menghadiri kursus “Independent Living Program for People with Disabilities” di Jepun dan Thailand pada 2006 yang dianjurkan bersama oleh Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat Malaysia dan Japan International Cooperation Agency. Dalam penerbangan ke kursus-kursus tersebut dengan Japan Airlines dan Malaysia Airlines, saya tidak diminta untuk menandatangani borang lepas tanggungan. Saya juga telah menghadiri 7th Disabled Peoples’ International World Assembly dan Global Summit on Independent Living di Korea baru-baru ini sebagai speaker untuk kedua-dua perhimpunan tersebut dengan penerbangan Malaysia Airlines dan juga tidak diminta untuk menandatangi borang tersebut.

7. Saya ingin merujuk kepada cadangan daripada 18 pertubuhan OKU yang diserahkan kepada Dato’ Sri Chan pada mesyuarat di Kementerian Pengangkutan pada 12 Mac 2007 di mana kami meminta supaya syarat yang mewajipkan pengguna kerusi roda menandatangani surat lepas tanggunan yang diamalkan oleh syarikat penerbangan dilarang sama sekali. Salinan cadangan tersebut dilampirkan.

8. Syarat yang diskriminasi ini melanggar hak asasi saya. Saya berharap Dato’ Sri Chan dan Dato’ Sri Shahrizat akan mengambil tindakan dengan segera supaya perkara yang sebegini tidak berlaku lagi. Ia juga untuk memelihara hak OKU yang termaktub dalam Rang Undang-Undang Orang Kurang Upaya 2007 dan Konvensyen Mengenai Hak Orang Kurang Upaya (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).

Perhatian Dato’ Sri-Dato’ Sri di atas perkara ini amat dihargai.

Sekian, terima kasih.

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