Your Car Very Big Ah?

Abuse of accessible parking at The Gardens Mid Valley
Abuse of accessible parking at The Gardens Mid Valley – November 13, 2010, 10.04 pm.

I confess, I sometimes park my car in two standard bays. That is because I could not find accessible bays after circling around for the third or fourth time or the few allocated accessible bays were already occupied. I need the extra space to open the car door fully and place the wheelchair beside it.

But look at this little Kancil that was parked outside the P2 lift lobby of The Gardens Mid Valley. It occupied two bays with wheelchair logos painted on them. Even if the car was driven by a disabled person, there is no excuse to occupy two parking bays, more so when these are accessible ones. Some people are simply inconsiderate.

Disabled community let down by authorities’ lack of will, poor coordination: Komunitikini – April 28, 2010

Disabled community let down by authorities’ lack of will, poor coordination

by Erna Mahyuni on 28 Apr, 2010
in Cheras, Features, Other Areas.

Speaking to people with disabilities advocate Peter Tan, Komunitikini got the rundown on the current situation and challenges faced by the disabled community in Malaysia.

Tan, a trained peer counselor, said that despite existing legislation for building proper facilities for the disabled there was still a lack of accessible facilities for the community.

“My trips out are still limited to places that have some basic accessible facilities such as ramps, (disabled) toilets and elevators.” The lack of these facilities hamper Tan and others like him who struggle with an environment that does not take into account their challenges in doing something as fundamental as moving around.

“There is better awareness of (our) issues but the situation is not improving, ” said Tan. He attributed it to a general “lack of will” on the part of the authorities whether they were at federal, state or local levels to take the necessary steps to improve things.

Citing the existence of the Uniform Building By-Law 34A, which had been in existence since the mid-90s, he said that the law required new buildings to provide access for the disabled. Builds already completed or under construction when the by-law was gazetted were given three years to comply with the applicable standards for construction: Malaysian standards MS 1183 and 1184.

“15 years on,” he noted, “Many buildings still do not comply with those requirements.”

Another problem, Tan noted is the lack of enforcement of said standards.

“Compliance with the UBBL 34A is the responsibility of the local governments, but they do not have qualified personnel to ensure compliance.”

Of the newer buildings that do include disabled facilities, Tan said that often the facilities were not built according to standards. For instance, disabled toilet stalls that were too small, doors that open inside, ramps that were too steep were common problems coupled with street environments that Tan called “totally hostile to disabled people.”

He noted The Gardens at Mid Valley City as an example of near perfect accessible facilities. “If not for the ramp leading to the lift lobby at P2.” Tan said the ramp had a flaw that could cause a wheelchair to tip backwards.

What irks Tan is that though there may be accessible buildings, getting to them is difficult. “What we have here is an island of accessible facilities in an ocean of barriers, ” he said. He called it a circle of mobility that was, for most disabled people, broken in many parts.

Asked about what could be done about the situation, Tan said one step would be for the disabled to unite and find a common platform.

“Many are interested in charity at the expense of advocating for the rights of disabled people.

“First, we need to come together and work together for the common good. Our voices cannot be heard if we don’t speak in a united voice.

“There are too many people trying to do the same thing,” he said.

Kiasu Malaysians

Some Malaysians are blatantly kiasu. They are competitively selfish, if there ever is a term to describe those few who make other fellow countrymen look uncultured and rude. They jump queue. They refuse to yield in crawling traffic. They park in accessible parking because they have a baby and a pram, or are senior citizens.

Wuan and I were waiting for the elevator at Mid Valley Megamall yesterday. There were only two of us. Then came a family of several with two shopping trolleys full of groceries. The older of the group parked her trolley right outside the elevator door in front of me. When it opened, she rushed in followed by the rest. By the time they were all inside, there was no more space for me. No wonder children nowadays do not have manners. With grandparents and parents like these, it is not surprising at all.

The following incident happened a few weeks back. Traffic leaving The Gardens Mall always comes to a crawl just before closing time. Coming out from the underground car park, I have to switch from the right-most lane to the left-most to get to the Federal Highway to go home. I had slowly merged into the middle lane from the right. With my left-turn signal blinking, I was looking for an opportunity to merge into the left lane. Traffic was slow. I noticed a big gap and slowly eased in.

The front of my car was already in the left lane. The young man driving a white Myvi refused to yield. He stepped on the accelarator to close the gap. Our cars came within inches of scraping against each other. I stopped and honked at him. He drove on as if nothing happened. When I turned left down the ramp to the Federal Highway, he was still stuck in the jam going to Old Klang Road and Petaling Jaya. What I could not understand was would allowing one car get ahead of him delay his journey home considerably in that traffic condition? I take back my words about crazy Penang and Ipoh drivers. Those in the Klang Valley are equally as bad.

The Gardens Mall has ten accessible parking bays at Level P2. Eight of these are beside the travelator, the other two outside the elevator lobby. Twice I came across parents with babies parking their cars at the accessible parking bays. One had a pram. The other just carried the baby and walked off. No prams. Nothing! If every vehicle with a baby and a pram were to park in these bays, ten would certainly not be enough. Shopping malls nowadays are crawling with prams and strollers. And parents such as these are lazy and inconsiderate. They abuse these facilities for their own convenience and deprive other people who genuinely need it from using it.

Are senior citizens entitled to park at accessible parking bays? Yes, if they have a mobility impairment or are using a wheelchair. No if they can walk, almost gallopping, from the car park to the travelator. These old couple, looking around sixtyish seemed to think otherwise. Two weeks ago, I was waiting for Wuan to lock the car. This elderly couple conveniently parked their car beside ours. The wife hopped out and walked away quickly. The husband look at me, shooked his head, smiled and walked away in equal haste. I looked at him in disbelief. Before I could react, they were already on the travelator and then disappeared from my sight in a blink. The same car was parked in the accessible parking bay a few weeks before that, too.

Thank God, these bad examples of human decency are the exception. I have also come across very polite and thoughtful people who allow me to get into the elevators first or have offered their place in the queue to me, which I declined most times. If I could spend hours shopping in the malls, there should not be a reason why I could not spend another ten minutes waiting in line to pay.

Malaysians calling our Singaporean neighbours kiasu should think twice. Some of us on this side of the causeway are no better. In fact, I have a number of Singaporean friends who are very nice people. This is not exclusively a nationality thing. Some of us, irrespective of colour or creed, simply do not have what it takes to be civil and courteous while others have an abundance of it. It is about how we were brought up. It is all about manners.