Labour Day Morning With YB Yap Soo Sun

My fellow advocates on disability issues, Wang and Tan, and I have been mulling on a date to meet the State Assemblyman for the area that we are residing in. At 10.00am this morning, we went to meet the ADUN of Teratai YB Yap Soo Sun at his residence. I handed to him a follow-up letter of complaint to the Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya (MPAJ) regarding inaccessible walkways in Pandan Perdana.

He has agreed to look into the matter and made plans to go on a walkabout around Pandan Perdana with us to view the challenges that wheelchair users have to face when moving about in the area. We intimated to him that RapidKL will be launching accessible buses soon but without corresponding accessible walkways and bus stops, wheelchair users are still unable to board the buses. YB Yap said that after understanding the situation better, he will submit a proposal to the state government for funding to upgrade the infrastructure.

We also informed him that we plan to set up a Centre for Independent Living in Pandan Perdana. He was also very supportive of this initiative and promised to assist us in any way within his means as a State Assemblyman. For this matter, we will draw up a proposal and present to him as soon as possible.

This has been a fruitful morning for the three of us although we also know that it may take months, if not years, before any concrete action will be taken by the local authorities and state government. It is a good start for us. And then again, the General Election is coming soon. Anything can happen between now and then.

Inaccessible Pandan Perdana/Letter To MPAJ – Update #1

The Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya (MPAJ) never responded to my complaint. Is this indifference common among the local councils in Malaysia? The silence is more than disappointing. It is a blatant display of the “tidak apa” attitude that is making me lose confidence in the people who are entrusted to look after the interests of rate payers and the safety of the public.

Letter from Jabatan Kerajaan Tempatan to Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya

Just when I thought that the MPAJ would sweep the matter under the carpet and conveniently forget about it, I received a copy of the letter the Jabatan Kerajaan Tempatan (JKT) sent to the MPAJ regarding my complaint. The JKT had instructed the MPAJ to look into my grievances, take relevant actions and provide a response to me.

I am waiting with bated breath for that elusive response from MPAJ. Will they be moved into action or ignore the directive from the JKT? Time will tell. In the meantime, Wuan and I are still risking life and limb whenever we need to make a trip to the shops. Does the MPAJ care enough? Lets wait and see.

* A scanned copy of the letter will be put up as soon as I get back to Penang.

Related entries:
Inaccessible Pandan Perdana
How To Kill A Disabled Person (This entry was first published in MoNSTerBlog)

Letter To MPAJ

Finally, I have found some time to settle the one issue that has been foremost in my mind recently – the complaint letter to Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya (MPAJ). That letter was addressed to the President of the Municipal Council and copied to the Menteri Besar of Selangor, Setiausaha Sulit Kanan to the Menteri Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan, Setiausaha Sulit Kanan to the Menteri Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat, Ketua Pengarah Kebajikan Masyarakat, Yap Soo Sun, the ADUN for this area and the President of the Persatuan Orang-Orang Cacat Anggota Malaysia (Society of the Orthopaedically Handicapped Malaysia).

Wuan took some photographs of the offending lamppost to illustrate how impossible it was for me to manoeuvre around the lamppost by myself. With some assistance from her, it can be done but that poses an apparent danger as evident from the nasty fall that happened to us the other evening. From the last photograph, we can see how close the vehicle was to the walkway. Picture the time that I lay sprawled on the road. I was in the path of oncoming vehicles. I could have been killed. That could have happened to Wuan as well.

The lack of accessible walkways, together with the lack of accessible transport service, is one of the many reasons why we do not see many wheelchair users out and about in public places. In Tokyo, it was not unusual to see the severely disabled moving around in electric wheelchairs. It was also easy for wheelchair users to board the trains and buses there. As far as I know, Putra LRT is the only accessible public transport in Malaysia, and that was only after disabled persons staged demonstrations to demand for accessible facilities at the stations. It is an uphill battle for us all the way.

Inaccessible Pandan Perdana

Inaccessible Pandan Perdana

Inaccessible Pandan Perdana

Inaccessible Pandan Perdana

Inaccessible Pandan Perdana

May 28, 2006

YB Presiden Via email and post
Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya
Menara MPAJ
Jalan Pandan Utama
55100 Pandan Indah
Kuala Lumpur

Dear Sir,


I reside at the address above. Several times a week, I patronise the shops at Jalan Perdana 4/5. I am a wheelchair user. I usually go together with my friend because I need her assistance with my wheelchair. We have two choices to go to the shops. One, I can either push myself on the busy road of Jalan Perdana 3/1 and risk being knocked over by a bus or a car. Two, to avoid that danger, my friend assists me by lifting my wheelchair onto the walkways. The walkways on both sides of Jalan Perdana 3/1 are not accessible. There are no kerb ramps to the walkways.

There is this lamppost at Jalan Perdana 3/1 (opposite the Jalan Perdana 4/5 shops) that stands right in the middle of the walkway. My friend always had difficulty manoeuvring my wheelchair around it because of the narrow space between the lamppost and the edge of the walkway.

While she was trying to manoeuvre my wheelchair around that particular lamppost on May 28, the front caster slipped off the edge of the walkway. We both lost balance and fell onto the road and were injured. All the time as I was lying helpless on the road, I worried that a bus may come and roll over us. Fortunately, three good Samaritans stopped their vehicles and helped me back onto the wheelchair.

The main reason we both fell off the walkway was because of the obstruction caused by the lamppost. It does not make sense to plant a lamppost right in the middle of the walkway. Additionally, many stretches of the walkways are damaged by the indiscriminate parking of buses, lorries and cars. These vehicles also cause obstructions that prevent pedestrians from using the walkways. This endangers our lives as we have no choice but to walk on the road.

As a pedestrian who uses that stretch of walkway often, I respectfully demand that you remove that offending lamppost immediately to prevent similar accidents from happening again. I also request that you make walkways, not only at Pandan Perdana, but in all areas under your jurisdiction accessible by constructing kerb ramps to allow accessibility to wheelchair users, prams and the elderly.

At the same time, the damaged walkways should be repaired without delay. The uneven surface is a danger to all pedestrians. Owners of vehicles that park on these walkways must be penalised. What is the purpose of constructing walkways that cannot be used? Does the MPAJ expect me use my wheelchair on public roads? Does the MPAJ expect pedestrians to risk their lives by walking on the roads?

I would like to remind you that time and again, our government has stressed that Malaysia is a masyarakat penyayang. How can we be a masyarakat penyayang when simple things like public walkways are not accessible to disabled persons and the elderly? The government should take the lead in instituting a caring Malaysian society by addressing, among others, the environmental barriers that are preventing disabled persons from participating in the activities of the community at large. The MPAJ can show its caring aspects by tackling the matters that I have highlighted. Please act now on these blatant examples of a non-masyarakat penyayang and non-pedestrian-friendly walkways before lives are lost.

I look forward to a positive reply from you regarding the resolution of this issue soonest possible.

Thank you.