Some Malaysians can be inconsiderate and selfish with no disregard for the need of others…
So in an effort to protect and uphold the rights of Malaysiaâ€™s differently-abled individuals (OKU), the government is looking to put in place laws to allow for prosecution of individuals and organisations who blatantly misuse and neglect OKU facilities.
According to Social Welfare (JKM) Department director, Zulkifli Ismail, discussions to amend the Persons with Disabilities (PwD) Act 2018 were being made to address the lack of enforcement and oversight towards OKU facilities.
The amendments would not only penalise people who abuse OKU accommodations but also buildings and properties that neglect OKU amenities.
To put this into perspective, letâ€™s use parking spaces as an example.
Currently, it is already against the law for any individual without a valid OKU sticker or OKU card to park their car in a designated OKU parking spot.
But an amendment to the PwD Act COULD impose harsher punishments (even jail time) for those who violate the law as well as making it a legal requirement for buildings to be made disabled-friendly.
This radical and refreshing change to the law is aimed to educate the public on the needs of the nationâ€™s disabled persons and to look out for the interest of the OKU community.
JKM also mentioned that government agencies are working on facilitating the needs of OKUs across the country.
Meanwhile, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry together with the Disabled Development Department (JPPWD) and JKM have been intensifying efforts to identify and register OKUs in the country.
It’s believed that there are still a huge number of OKUs who are not registered and are missing out on services provided by the government such as financial assistance, medical services and others.
And earlier in 2019, OKU advocacy groups had submitted a proposal on amendments that should be made to the current legislation;
- Expanding the definition of “disability”
- Clearly defining â€œdiscriminationâ€ and â€œharassmentâ€ towards OKUs and provide resolution in the event of such cases.
- Repeal laws that protect the government from accountability when failing their duties towards OKUs
- Establish an independent commission to monitor the implementation and enforcement of the PwD Act
- Creation of a tribunal to handle cases involving violations of OKU rights.
These steps are seen as a proactive measure to ensure that Malaysiaâ€™s OKUs are not left out in the cold.
But until these changes are made, Malaysia still has a mountain to climb before the nation becomes a true disability-inclusive society.
Malaysiaâ€™s OKU advocacy groups have long been seeking change in the treatment of the nationâ€™s differently-abled community.
The fact that the nation’s current laws are still inadequate and do not meet the requirements set by the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) serves as a major roadblock against achieving that goal.
But the government is not solely responsible for the needs and rights of Malaysiaâ€™s OKU community.
We as a society must actively play our part to ensure that every citizen is treated with respect and their needs looked out for.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Akmal returns to the newly improved TRP to uncover cold truths and walk the fine line between deep and dumb.