Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ensure disabled-friendly premises, local authorities told

Astro Awani

Syafique Shuib| Updated: October 31, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Not being able to take legal action against premises which are not disabled-friendly is frustrating for persons with living disabilities (OKU) in Malaysia.

Here, disabled people still have trouble accessing buildings and various premises such as restaurants and banks. But unlike how it is in some western countries, OKUs in Malaysia could not take legal action against such premises.

Damai Disabled Persons Association of Selangor and Federal Territory president, V. Murugeswaran, said this is so because Malaysia’s Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 is not supported by the Anti-Discrimination Act.

“Our Act is more like a guideline, unlike those in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.

“America has the Disabilities Act and it’s supported by the American Discrimination Act. In America, if a restaurant doesn’t provide access for a wheelchair-bound, they can be brought to court because their law allows it,” said Murugeswaran.

He said the local authorities here should play a greater role in ensuring that all buildings were built according to standardised guidelines, making the premises accessible for all.

He said the gradient of the ramp and the size of the parking space at some premises were not built according to standard.

“We cannot even use the facilities,” Murugeswaran said.

Click the video below for Astro AWANI’s interview with him:

Meanwhile, television personality and activist Ras Adiba Radzi called for those in the service industry to have an open mind and to look at the minute things of accessibility.

“The attitude of those in the service (industry) is not up there for us. It’s not just for the wheelchair-bound but the elderly and those with children in prams.”

She noted that facilities at new buildings were up to par but the older buildings need to be refurbished to be more accessible.

Below is the video for our interview with Ras Adiba:

The activists’ comments came following PJ City councillorAnthony Thanasayan’sclaim earlier this week that a staff at a restaurant he recently went to had denied him his seating preference. Anthony had claimed that the staff had cited restaurant policy in disallowing wheelchairs into the premises.

Subsequently, Pizza Hut Malaysiaclarified in a statementthat they did not have a policy which discriminated its customers with special needs.

Monday, October 28, 2013

How will RM441m budget allocation be spent, asks disabled communit


PETALING JAYA: The RM441mil allocation in the 2014 Budget for the welfare and development of people with disabilities (PWDs) raised more questions than answers in the minds of PWD advocacy groups.

"I am unsure how this funding will be allocated. Previously funding was given to the Women's Ministry which started a program called Karisma and they used the money for charity handouts. RM 441mil is quite a huge sum," said Damai Disabled Persons Association of Selangor and Federal Territory president V. Murugeswaran.

Murugeswaran, who spoke to The Star Online on Monday, added that the money should be spent on addressing the root causes of problems that were keeping PWDs from leading independent lives.

"The Prime Minister said that 33 new schools would be built and all schools would be upgraded. My call is that these schools also consider PWDs," said Murugeswaran.

He said many PWDs could not get meaningful employment as they lacked basic education qualifications because they could not gain entry into the mainstream school system.

"I urge the government to use this opportunity to make schools fully accessible so that PWDs can get a full education from Year 1 up to university," said Murugeswaran.

He added employment was another point of concern for PWDs, pointing out the public and private sector had a quota system where 1% of job openings had to be given to PWDs.

"In order for this quota to be achieved, they have to look into accessible building infrastructures and public transport infrastructures such as accessible pavements, bus stops and other public facilities," said Murugeswaran.

He added that an integrated, accessible public transport system should be drawn up by the government.

On Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said RM441mil would be allocated for the development and welfare of PWDs.

"We recognise that everyone is special and we are all perfect in the eyes of God. In relation to this, the contribution of PWDs is highly appreciated," said Najib in his budget speech.

Selangor and Federal Territory Association For The Mentally Handicapped general manager T. Kamaraj questioned whether non-governmental organisations (NGOs) would be included as recipients of the allocation.

"Usually these funds will go to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development. Does this allocation include the NGOs that are providing a variety of services for PWDs. We are unsure if the money will also support the relevant NGOs," said Kamaraj.

He said he wanted to know if grants to the relevant NGOs would be increased.

"Will 50% of the RM441mil go to government bodies with the rest to NGOs? There are NGOs all over the country complementing the work the government does to help and serve PWDs," said Kanaraj.

Kanaraj also questioned whether grants for NGOs would be increased with the new allocation.

He said currently, a working PWD earning less than RM1,200 would be eligible for a RM 300 allowance from the government.

"We expected an increase in Budget 2014 to RM500 considering the increase in the cost of living, but there was no mention of this," said Kanaraj.

CSR community project by UPS (United parcel Service ) on 26 Oct 2013. Special thank to all their staff whom volunteer to do cleaning-up to Damai Association building premises and for the food arrangement