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The Suffering Of Disabled People In Najib’s 1Malaysia

November 21st, 2009 - Saturday

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
News
Home > News > Nation

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.


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More disabled-friendly public transport ordered: The Star – April 14, 2009

April 14th, 2009 - Tuesday

The following is an excerpt from the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 (Akta Orang Kurang Upaya 2008):

Access to public transport facilities

27. (1) Persons with disabilities shall have the right to access to and use of public transport facilities, amenities and services open or provided to the public on equal basis with persons without disabilities.

The issue about access to public transport for disabled people has been left lingering since the time disabled people came out to protest against Star LRT for barring us from taking the trains in 1994. More recently, when Dato’ Seri Chan Kong Choy was the Minister of Transport he had a meeting with disabled people at his ministry where he announced that all public transport will be made accessible. My friend Robert Wang and I approached Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat in August 2008 regarding the same issue when he came to Pandan Perdana to officiate an event at the Pandan Lake.

Today, The Star reported that Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has directed agencies under the Ministry to provide accessible facilities. It is time the Ministry of Transport stop dilly dallying with lip service only to this long standing issue and work together with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to look for ways to resolve it for once and for all.

The article quoted the Minister of Transport as saying that he had come across some cases where physically-challenged individuals struggled to get onto public transport. Struggling is an understatement. For wheelchair users, it is an impossibility. It is physically challenging for us all right. These challenges are created by a non-inclusive public transport and casued by the lack of enforcement of the Uniform Building By-Law 34A.

The government has acknowledged that access to public transport is a right for disabled people. So why are accessible facilities still not provided in this area? How long more do disabled people have to wait to be able to use public transport? And whatever happened to the Master Plan on Public Transportation Policy commissioned by the Ministry of Transport on 2008 under the Abdullah administration?

The Star Online
Home > News > Nation

Tuesday April 14, 2009
More disabled-friendly public transport ordered

KUALA LUMPUR: Agencies under the Transport Ministry, including KTM Bhd, have been directed to come out with more facilities to make it easier for the disabled who use public transport.

Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said yesterday there was still room for improvement in the facilities provided for the physically-challenged.

“We are aware that a lot of public transport facilities do not take their needs into consideration.

“At the fourth quarter of last year, I instructed several agencies under my ministry to take into account the needs of these individuals,” he told reporters after opening the KKAJ Vocational Centre for the Disabled in Bandar Baru Ampang here yesterday.


Overcoming obstacles: (From right) Resorts World Bhd deputy chairman Tun Hanif Omar sealing a packet of roasted green peas in the presence of Ong and Resorts World Bhd executive director Tan Sri Alwi Jantan during the opening of the KKAJ Vocational Centre for the Disabled in Bandar Baru Ampang in Kuala Lumpur.

Ong, who is the patron of the centre, said he had instructed the agencies to speed up the process.

“I wish to see the public transport system, whether it is under the purview of my ministry or other ministries, to take this matter seriously.

“I know it is not easy and there are a lot of obstacles but we must endeavour to overcome the challenges,” he said.

Ong said he had come across some cases where physically-challenged individuals struggled to get onto public transport.

“I do not think it is fair.”

Earlier in his speech, Ong said physically-challenged individuals needed assistance not in the form of welfare.

“They need help in the terms of training opportunities to excel in life and to compete with others. These are the key parameters that we should set our sights on,” he said.

The KKAJ Vocational Centre for the Disabled is set up by Resorts World Bhd and Kelab Kercergasan Ampang Jaya to give disabled people a chance to acquire skills and to earn an income for themselves.

The centre provides training in paper lamination, document binding and food packaging.


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400 Non-Step Buses For Singapore

October 9th, 2008 - Thursday

400 more Scania buses ordered: StarMotoring - 5 October, 2008
400 more Scania buses ordered: StarMotoring – 5 October 2008

SBS Transit, Singapore’s leading public transport company, has ordered another 400 Scania buses in addition to the 500 units ordered in 2007.

All the buses will have bodywork produced by Gemilang Coachworks in Malaysia. Deliveries will begin early next year.

The buses are of the no-step low-floor type for quick and fast boarding/disembarkation; as well as allowing full wheel-chair access.”

SBS Transit of Singapore announced in 2006 that they are pushing ahead with the plan to make all new public buses low floor and step-free for the convenience of senior citizens and wheelchair users. For that year alone, 150 new non-step buses would be rolled out. Now the bus company is ordering another 400 non-step low floor buses that will be delivered beginning early next year.

Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (SPNB) of Malaysia rolled out 100 low-floor non step buses some time in mid-2007. Until now, wheelchair users are still unable to ride in those buses. The reasons being that most of the bus stops in Klang Valley are not suitable or are inaccessible. No effort has been put in liaise with the municipal councils and other related agencies to renovate all the 4000 bus stops in stages to make them accessible to wheelchair users and suitable for the buses to deploy the ramps.

The thing with Malaysia is that the Ministry of Transport has very little say in legislating land-based public transport. The Ministry of Entrepreneurial And Co-operative Development through the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board issues permits to public transport operators. The Ministry of Finance Inc. owns SPNB. SPNB is the asset owner of RapidKL and Rapid Penang’s buses. All in all, thirteen agencies are involved in one way or another in governing the industry. It is no wonder the public transportation system is such a havoc in Malaysia.


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