Thanks to Lilei Chow who forwarded news articles on Malaysia becoming the latest signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Malaysia signed the convention on April 8, 2008. This is a milestone in the disability movement in our country.
However, the same news articles did not mention if Malaysia also signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and whether Malaysia had reservations towards some of the articles in the CRPD. The Optional Protocol enables individuals whose rights are violated to seek redress from the Committee of Persons with Disabilities after exhausting all the remedies of national laws.
The United Nations Enable page on Convention and Protocol Signatories and Ratification listed Malaysia as having only signed the Convention. The government should show its full commitment by also signing the Protocol and at the same time ratify the Convention soonest possible.
At the same time, the government should also consider drawing up an anti-discrimination law to protect the rights of disabled people. The Persons With Disabilities Bill is non-punitive and therefore toothless. The Uniform Building By-Law 34-A (UBBL 34A) under the Streets, Drainage and Buildings Act must also be strictly enforced to ensure that all public buildings are fully accessible. It is high time the By-Law includes external environment as it currently does not require that those places be accessible to disabled people.
The UBBL 34A is a good example of how the rights of disabled people are not not being protected by a piece of legislation that has been in existence since the mid-90s. The government has had fifteen years to do what is required in the By-Law but they have done little. Therefore I wonder how the Persons with Disabilitie Bill will be any different when past laws have proven otherwise.
Nevertheless, having signed the Convention, the government should now get down to implementing the policies on disabilities to ensure that disabled people are accorded their equal and rightful place in society. Policies that discriminates should be removed with immediate effect. Infrastructure in the forms of public transport and built environment should be made accessible to all.
The government can begin by ensuring that RapidKL, Rapid Penang, Star LRT and all government facilities are accessible to disabled people within a fixed time frame. The other issues that must be looked into are education, employment and the provision of independent living support to people with severe disabilities. Are we up to it? Time will tell. Until then, I am reservedly optimistic. I have experienced too many empty promises and poorly enforced legislation to believe that things will change for the better any time soon.
The Star Online
Thursday April 10, 2008
Malaysia signs UN convention on disabled
NEW YORK: Malaysia has signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations headquarters here.
The Malaysian Government was represented by Datuk Faizah Mohd Tahir, Secretary General of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, said a statement issued by her entourage.
The signing was witnessed by Annebeth Rosenboom, chief of the treaty section at the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs, Malaysia Consular at New York Raja Nurshirwan Zainal Abidin, and National Population and Family Development director Aminah Abdul Rahman.
The Convention entitles the disabled to the full enjoyment of all human rights and ensures full and effective participation as well as inclusion in society, on an equal basis with others.
The eight general principles of the Convention are:
* Respect for inherent dignity and individual autonomy; * Non-discrimination; * Full and effective participation and inclusion in society; * Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity; * Equality of opportunity; * Accessibility; * Gender equality and respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities; and * Respect for the rights of children with disabilities to develop and preserve their identities.
The signing shows the Government’s concern and commitment following the formulation of the Policy on Persons with Disabilities and its Plan of Action, the Persons with Disabilities Act 2007 and the recent appointment of a disabled person as a senator, the statement said.
April 09, 2008 18:44 PM
KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 (Bernama) — Malaysia is now a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a treaty that upholds and safeguards the rights of people with disabilities to be independent and to live with dignity and respect.
Women, Family and Community Development Ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Faizah Mohd Tahir signed the treaty for Malaysia at a ceremony held at the United Nations’s (UN) headquarters in New York Tuesday.
According to a statement from the ministry, the signing of the convention was witnessed by UN’s Office of Legal Affairs’ Chief of Treaty Section Annebeth Rosenboom, Malaysia’s Counsellor in New York Raja Nurshirwan Zainal Abidin and Director of National Population and Family Development Aminah Abdul Rahman.
The long-awaited convention underlines eight general principles which include respect for inherent dignity and individual autonomy, non-discrimination, full and effective participation and inclusion in society, respect for difference, and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity.
The statement said the signing of the convention showed the government’s concern and commitment following the formulation of the Policy on Persons with Disabilities and its plan of action.