Tag Archives: discrimination against disabled people

Time to remove all reservations and sign the Optional Protocols: The Malaysian Bar – July 8, 2010

The Malaysian Bar
Press Release: Time to remove all reservations and sign the Optional Protocols

Thursday, 08 July 2010 03:11pm
The Malaysian Bar welcomes the Government’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Alongside Malaysia’s well-publicised ratification, the Government has nonetheless taken reservations to Article 3 on general principles, Article 5 on equality and non-discrimination, Article 15 on freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Article 18 on liberty of movement and nationality, and Article 30 on participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.

This means that the Malaysian Government does not fully subscribe to the fundamental principles that persons with disabilities should enjoy such equality, non-discrimination, freedom or liberty, or to fully participate in culture, recreation, leisure and sport. This makes for a hollow ratification since such reservations take away from fundamental principles that underpin CRPD.

These kinds of reservations are consistent with the reservations made to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which Malaysia acceded to in 1995. Despite withdrawing reservations to Articles 1, 13 and 15 of CRC, Malaysia still has five reservations in place. These are to Article 2 on non-discrimination; Article 7 on name and nationality; Article 14 on freedom of thought, conscience and religion; Article 28(1)(a) on free and compulsory education at primary level; and Article 37 on torture and deprivation of liberty. This indicates that the Malaysian Government still takes the view that children can be discriminated against, have no right to a name or nationality, have no freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and staggeringly, should not be free from torture and deprivation of liberty.

The Malaysian Bar also welcome the Government’s withdrawal of reservations to Articles 5(a), 7(b) and 16(2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). While noteworthy strides have been made in terms of efforts to eliminate discrimination against women, Malaysia also still has five reservations in place with respect to CEDAW. These deal with equal rights for women to pass their nationality to their children (Article 9(2)); equal rights to enter into marriage (Article 16(1)(a)); equal rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution (Article 16(1)(c)); equal rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children (Article 16(1)(f)); and the same personal rights in a marriage, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation (Article 16(1)(g)).

In addition to these reservations, the Malaysian Government has still not signed or ratified any of the Optional Protocols to CRPD, CRC or CEDAW. These Optional Protocols grant specific rights to the citizens/residents of a country to refer their government to the international supervisory committee for non-compliance with each of these conventions. At present, although Malaysia is a State Party to these conventions, Malaysians cannot hold the Government accountable if it does not honour or comply with their provisions.

Similarly, the Persons With Disabilities Act 2008, which supposedly implemented the provisions of CRPD and which came into force in July 2008, does not provide for any form of punishment or remedy for breaches. It remains to be seen how the Malaysian Government will ensure that provisions of that Act are implemented. The Act also does not ensure that the persons with disabilities are not discriminated against, e.g. in education and employment opportunities.

The ratification of CRPD, and the withdrawal of some of the reservations to CRC and CEDAW, are all positive steps. However, more can, and should, be done.

We call on the Malaysian Government to give full effect to its international obligations by removing all remaining reservations, and by signing all three Optional Protocols. It should also expand the scope of the existing Child Act 2001 and Persons With Disabilities Act 2008 to comprehensively cover all areas of CRC and CRPD respectively. Currently, many of the provisions of CRC and CRPD have been left out of the enabling Malaysian legislation.

Finally, to show that it is fully transparent and accountable to the rakyat, we call on the Malaysian Government to insert provisions in all enabling legislation to allow the Malaysian Government to be challenged in Malaysian courts for non-compliance with its full obligations under CRPD, CRC and CEDAW. In particular, as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Malaysian Government should do no less.

Lim Chee Wee
Vice-President
Malaysian Bar

8 July 2010

Bigotry In Malaysia

MACC counsel Datuk Abdul Razak Musa then stood up to protest Karpal’s continued use of the word “murder” in pertaining to Teoh’s death.

When Karpal, who is in a wheelchair, told Abdul Razak to “sit down”, the latter replied: “I will sit down but you cannot stand up.”

The Star – January 15, 2010

Abdul Razak must have thought that his shooting from the hip was the perfect rebuttal to Karpal. Although the remark was pointed at Karpal, it has, in one fell swoop, affronted all wheelchair users. This is a blatant disregard for the dignity of disabled people.

Of all people, I would least expect a lawyer to say something as disrespectful as this. Ridiculing a disabled person’s condition is bigotry just like how making deprecating remarks along racial lines is considered racism. Let there not be a doubt regarding this.

This is also an indication of how little the government has done to promote disability equality in the country. When Parlimentarians and government officers have no qualms with throwing insults at disabled people, they set a bad precedent to society at large on how disabled people should be treated. Thankfully, people like these are a minority. Such attitudes are still disconcerting nonetheless.

If the government is serious in protecting the rights and dignity of disabled people in Malaysia, they should come out with an anti-discrimination law. The Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 does nothing to that effect. Disabled people in Malaysia still face attitudinal and environmental barriers in every aspect of their lives.

The Star Online

Published: Friday January 15, 2010 MYT 11:38:00 AM
Updated: Friday January 15, 2010 MYT 1:36:58 PM

Teoh Beng Hock’s inquest takes a further turn (Update)
By WANI MUTHIAH

SHAH ALAM: The inquest into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock took a further turn when a hearing on an application to cite a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer for contempt targeted its counsel instead.

Counsel for the Government Tan Hock Chuan had earlier given the court the Attorney-General’s assurance that no action would be taken against Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand.

He said the A-G was also of the opinion that Dr Pornthip had not leaked any information to Suara Keadilan, which had carried an article “confirming” that Teoh had been murdered.

Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas then said that given the A-G’s opinion, there was no longer any need to proceed with contempt proceedings against Raub Ghani, who had lodged a police report against Dr Pornthip alleging that she had leaked information from the results of the second post-mortem performed on Teoh to “unauthorised” parties.

Raub, 41, who is attached to the Putrajaya MACC investigation unit, had lodged the report at the Shah Alam district police headquarters on Jan 1.

However, the counsel representing Teoh’s family, Karpal Singh argued for contempt proceedings to continue against Raub as going by the A-G’s opinion, it would seem to indicate that the MACC officer had lodged a false police report and thus, should be “duly dealt with”.

MACC counsel Datuk Abdul Razak Musa then stood up to protest Karpal’s continued use of the word “murder” in pertaining to Teoh’s death.

When Karpal, who is in a wheelchair, told Abdul Razak to “sit down”, the latter replied: “I will sit down but you cannot stand up.”

The court was thrown into further chaos when at one point, Gobind Singh Deo called Abdul Razak a “scoundrel” for insulting Karpal Singh’s disability, and wanted contempt proceedings initiated against Abdul Razak.

The court has momentarily stood down for both Karpal and Gobind to refer to grounds to initiate proceedings against Abdul Razak.

Coroner Azmil Muntapha fixed Jan 22 to hear submissions in the contempt proceedings against Raub.

He agreed there were elements of contempt in Abdul Razak’s remarks against Karpal, but only cautioned him.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2009

Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I would rather that it be called International Day of Disabled Persons. There is a difference between the two. The former puts the onus of disablement on the person. The person has a disability which is the main cause of the problems that he faces in society. The latter describes the situation of the person who is disabled by attitudinal and physical barriers in society. Read more about what I have written regarding this topic under “Social Model of Disability“.

The theme for this year is “Making the MDGs Inclusive: Empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities around the world”. MDGs means Millennium Development Goals. The following is a brief on the MDGs with regards to disabled people according to United Nations Enable:

MDGs and persons with disabilities

The United Nations and the global community continue to work for the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development. Although many commitments have been made to include disability and persons with disabilities in development, the gap between policy and practice continues.

Ensuring that persons with disabilities are integrated into all development activities is essential in order to achieve internationally agreed development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs can only be achieved if persons with disabilities and their family members are included. This in turn will ensure that people with disabilities and their family members benefit from international development initiatives. Efforts to achieve the MDGs and implement the Convention are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

More information on the MDGs and persons with disabilities [http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1470]

So, today is a day dedicated to people like me – people on wheelchairs, people who are blind, people who are deaf and people who are living with other forms of impairment. Thank you so much for remembering us and honouring us and recognising us. All these have no meaning if no affirmative action is taken to reduce the socioeconomic gap between disabled people and non-disabled people.

This can only be achieved by making infrastructure and services accessible to all, first and foremost public transport and the built environment. Without access to these two, there is no way for disabled people to come into mainstream society. The federal government, state governments and local authorities, have the means and resources to do this. Sad to say, most of them do not take the initiative to make the infrastructure inclusive.

The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (Kementerian Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat), through the Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat Malaysia (Department of Social Welfare Malaysia) is holding a celebration in conjunction with this day on December 5 at Komplex MAB in Brickfields. The Ministry has chosen not to follow the theme promoted by United Nations and instead use “Pendayaupayaan OKU Ke Arah Pembangunan Potensi Diri” (Empowering Disabled People Towards Developing Self Potential).

Talk is cheap. I have heard ministers, wives of ministers and government officials talk about making life easier for disabled people. Many of these “positive announcements” are archived in this blog. As far as I am concerned, nothing has changed. 1Malaysia kah or Rakyat Didahulukan kah, disabled people are still marginalised in every way through ommission, ignorance and discrimination. The people in government should stop talking and start working towards achieving equalisation of opportunities for disabled people. Just resolve our issues. It is as simple as that. We do not need the government spending money celebrating this day but not doing anything afterwards. No thank you!