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Malaysian OKUs deserve better in 2020

LETTER | Twenty nineteen has sadly been by far an extremely disappointing year for me and many of my disabled activist chums.

Despite our welfare ministers praising themselves for their great "achievements" for the OKU (disabled) in Malaysia, there have been many ugly incidents that have made us extremely disappointed with the Pakatan Harapan government, especially with our welfare ministers.

We are deeply concerned that despite blowing their own trumpets and trying to flatter themselves, not enough has been done in raising the quality of life for the OKU, especially the poor who have little or no help.

The disabled individuals or groups the welfare ministers work with are limited and not wide enough to represent the many types of disabled persons in our society.

Furthermore they appear to be more elitist and interested to better themselves instead of helping the multitudes outside their circles.

These include those with significant (severe) disabilities like persons paralysed from their necks down (tetraplegics) who need more immediate assistance than others.

Looking back over 2019, I can't forget the horrible blunders that transpired. These include:

1. A Harapan minister suggesting another community - the LGBTIQ - to use our disabled toilets because they didn't want the group to use male/female ones because they felt embarrassed by their presence.

2. Not only allowing non-disabled people to abuse our car parks in their areas but also officially endorsing them to use it by giving them approval stickers for the day. When we confronted the ministers about it, they pretended to not know about this. 

Even though they promised to conduct an investigation about it, they never got back to us. They never even apologised for it to this day. The incident happened twice. We didn't even get an apology from the ministers for both incidents.

3. Refusing to see us for more than a year until we had to gatecrash and hold a demonstration outside their office. Even though they knew we were coming, they didn't have the courtesy to see us or have their team receive us. (Only Zuraida Kamaruddin received us at the last minute in an impromptu gesture.)

4. Holding a so-called "consultation" Budget 2020 session in a parliamentary-like forum where about 200 disabled persons were only given only three minutes to  speak again. It was one of the most disabling sessions I had ever attended for the OKU.

5. Our special request for a monthly allowance of RM500 for the OKU to help make ends meet as the most disadvantaged segment in society only fell on deaf ears. We were told there wasn't enough money to go around. But when we heard later how much ministers and parliamentarians are given, this just added salt to our wounds.

As disabled Malaysians, we sadly continue to get only scraps from the Harapan table just as we did from the BN table. That too, only if we are lucky.

Our wish for 2020 is that the disabled in Malaysia will be treated better than garbage in society because we deserve better.

The writer is president, Petpositive, an animal-assisted therapy organisation for the disabled and elderly.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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