Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak invited Malaysians on Facebook and Twitter to ask him questions from 4.30 pm to 5.30 pm today. The Twitter hashtag is #tanyanajib while questions through Facebook can be submitted at www.facebook.com/najibrazak. I have never seen a Twitter timeline scroll down so fast. Due to the overwhelming response, the time to pose questions was extended to 6.00 pm.

I thought that this would be a good opportunity to pose the questions on longstanding disability issues to him and see if he responds. These issues are, after all, not new but ones that have gone unresolved for the longest time. Will Najib address any of them? Time will tell. By the way, at this moment, #tanyanajib is trending in ninth position worldwide. We sure have a lot of questions for the Prime Minister!

#tanyanajib Why are roads in KL full of potholes? Dangerous to motorcyclists. DBKL not doing a good job.

#tanyanajib Why is Prasarana/RapidKL so reluctant in using non-step buses? We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Look at Japan and Australia.

#tanyanajib Why is full relief on income tax not given to purchase of rehabilitative and support equipment for disabled people?

#tanyanajib Will you amend UBBL 34A to make it COMPULSORY for all buildings and street environment to have access for disabled people?

#tanyanajib Will the MRT be barrier-free?

#tanyanajib What is the govt doing to prevent abuse of parking and toilet for disabled people?

#tanyanajib Public transport is not accessible. Disabled people stuck at home. What is the govt doing to resolve this?

#tanyanajib Will Malaysia enact punitive anti-discrimination law to protect the rights of disabled people?

#tanyanajib Join OKUs on a wheelchair ride around KL to experience the mega-problems we face everyday. Not much has changed since Akta OKU.

#tanyanajib Is the govt changing “orang kurang upaya” to something more empowering? We certainly are not people of lesser abilities.

What is the govt’s plan in making Malaysia barrier free? If yes, is there a time frame to it? #tanyanajib @ShahrizatJalil

Love Letter To PLUS – Unusable “Accessible” Toilet

Puan Khalilah Talha is the General Manager Corporate Communications at PLUS Expressways Berhad. She had responded to my complaints regarding the facilities along the North South Expressway, especially the dangerous ramps at the Ayer Keroh RSA last year.

The email below is regarding the toilet with the wheelchair logo above the door that I could not use at Ulu Bernam RSA last week.

Dear Puan Khalilah,

I would like to point you to the “accessible” toilet at Ulu Bernam RSA Southbound. I was truly shocked to discover that I could not close the door after I got in. It opened inwards and there was little space for me to maneuver. That being the only toilet provided for disabled people at the RSA, I had no choice but to empty my bladder into my diaper. It is ridiculous to indicate that the toilet is for disabled people when it is not usable by a wheelchair user. I hope this matter is rectified soonest possible.

On another note, I am truly disappointed to note that my previous complaints 1 year ago regarding accessible parking were not looked into. The parking spaces at the RSAs and lay-bys that I stopped at do not comply with the code of practice. Most of them are too narrow. Worse still, most of these spaces were occupied by vehicles with non-disabled passengers or drivers. This defeats the purpose of allocating such space when disabled people do not have the opportunity to use them at all.

I use the NSE frequently. As a disabled person, I am not even asking for privileges and discount on tolls. I pay the same fare as other non-disabled drivers. All I am asking for is that PLUS provide facilities that are functional, safe and convenient for disabled drivers and passengers alike. That is the least PLUS can do to ensure equality to disabled people using the NSE.

I would like to advise PLUS to conduct a thorough access audit on all the RSAs and lay-bys to ensure that the facilities comply with the code of practice. Putting the wheelchair logo on the toilet door or painting the same logo on the parking space do not make them usable by disabled people. I am sure you are aware of the Malaysian Standard MS 1183, MS 1184 and MS 1331. I discovered from a cursory audit last week that many of the facilities do not comply with the requirements.

With the Akta Orang Kurang Upaya in force now and Malaysia being a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that will soon be ratified, it is time for PLUS to seriously work towards ensuring that all public facilities along the expressways are fully accessible, not only to disabled people, but to everyone that uses them.

Your attention in this matter is most appreciated.

Thank you.

Peter Tan

Inaccessible Toilet For Disabled People At Ulu Bernam RSA

PLUS Expressways Berhad (PLUS) is not serious in including accessible facilities at the rest and service area (RSA) and lay-bys along the North South Expressway (NSE). This is evident from my previous complaints regarding the facilities at Tapah RSA that went unrectified till now.

Likewise, the purportedly parking for disabled persons at all the RSAs and lay-bys have not been redone to comply with Malaysian Standard MS 1184. Disabled persons have no place to park and get out from vehicles conveniently. Moreover, the those parking spaces are usually occupied by vehicles without disabled persons.

Inaccessible toilet for disabled people at Ulu Bernam RSA Southbound
Toilet for disabled persons with the door opening inwards at Ulu Bernam RSA Southbound.

To add insult to injury, on my trip back from Ipoh last weekend, I discovered that the accessible toilet at the Ulu Bernam RSA Southbound was as good as useless. The door opened inwards. When I got in, I could not close the door due to the limited space inside for me to maneuver. I got Wuan to move the sanitary napkin disposal bin out. That did not help either. In the end, I emptied my bladder into the diaper I was wearing instead.

Before PLUS officials attend another conference on accessibility for disabled persons and proclaim to all and sundry that they provide such facilities at the RSAs and lay-bys, they should do an audit to ensure that these facilities are really functional and comply with the code of practice.

Putting a wheelchair logo on the toilet door or painting the logo on the parking space does not make them usable by disabled people. These facilities must comply with the Malaysian Standard MS 1184: Code of Practice for Access for Disabled Persons to Buildings. The document clearly spells out the proper dimension and requirements to make facilities usable by disabled people.