Penang – Different Government Same Shit For Disabled People

Abuse of accessible parking outside the Catholic Information Centre in Penang

When the DAP took over Penang with its allies in the Pakatan Rakyat, I had great hope that things would change for the better for disabled people in my home state where accessibility is concerned. After nine months of governing the state, it is evident that my optimism was misplaced. The picture above taken on November 24, 2008 speaks volume of my despair.

I use very simple yardsticks to determine accessibility of a particular place. First is the inclusion of usable ramps. Second is the functionality of accessible toilets. Third is the provision of accessible parking spaces. These are the basic facilities that will determine whether disabled people can perform independently outside their homes or otherwise.

The two parking spaces for disabled people were put up in 2005 when a stretch of Upper Penang Road was renovated. The many times that I drove pass the Catholic Information Centre in recent months, the two parking spaces were usually occupied by four cars – assumably neither driven by disabled people nor carrying disabled passengers as evident by the close proximity of the cars.

When a simple thing like enforcement on existing facilities is not even carried out, dare I hope that the requirements in the Uniform Building By-Law 34A (UBBL 34A) be imposed on all existing and new public buildings? The government of Penang under Pakatan Rakyat is as disappointing as when the state was under Barisan Nasional when it comes to resolving disability issues. Apa macam Lim Guan Eng?

RapidPenang – Where Are The Non-Step Buses?

RapidPenang is going to add another 50 buses to its current fleet by the end of the year. The million ringgit question is: Are these buses of the non-step type that wheelchair users can use? If not, where are the promised buses to cater to the needs of disabled people? There was no mention of whether disabled people can use these buses or if they are accessible. My guess is that they are not.

Many of my disabled friends in Penang are unable to go anywhere because there is no accessible public transport in the island. They have to give up schooling because they cannot go to school. Without an education, they are unable to find gainful employment. Many of them practically have no social life because they are stuck at home most of the time.

Disabled people are the most disadvantaged and marginalised in any society, Malaysia included. Many are living in poverty. Their plight are mostly ignored and forgotten. It is regrettable the previous government in Penang did little to change the situation, preferring to give all sorts of excuses to exclude the needs of disabled people from using public transport. I truly hope the new Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng will seriously resolve this matter for once and for all.