There are 4.5 million people in Malaysia with disabilities and they struggle more from social disparity rather than any physical or mental disability.
“I have made a lot of sacrifices for this country, and this is what I get,” confessed Malaysia’s first-ever Paralympian, Mariappan Perumal on his experience as a disabled person (OKU) living in the country.
The 63-year-old retired powerlifter was featured in a short documentary by VICE News that highlighted the problems faced by the estimated 4.5 million OKUs in Malaysia – who struggle more from social disparity rather than any physical or mental disability.
Paralysed from the waist down due to Polio, he had proudly claimed two bronze medals for the country after competing in seven Paralympics – his most notable achievement being in the Seoul Paralympics of 1988.
Now, the para-athlete supports his family with a small pension provided by the government. Like many OKUs in the country, Mariappan faces problems with the lack of access and opportunity.
Malaysia’s parliamentary OKU representative, Senator Ras Adiba Radzi, who was also featured in the VICE documentary said that there is still much to be done in Malaysia in order to provide OKUs with better quality of life.
With much enthusiasm, Ras Adiba told VICE that OKUs are not a nuisance to society and that Malaysia’s attitude towards the disabled must change.
People’s mindsets have to change, discrimination has to be reduced, and people need to be able to look at us and speak to us like we are just like everybody else. I aspire to see Malaysia be a disabled-friendly country.Senator Ras Adiba Radzi via VICE News
Officially, Malaysia classifies OKUs into seven different categories; those with hearing disabilities, visual disabilities, physical disabilities or the inability for the body to function normally, learning disorders such as down syndrome and autism, speech disorders, mental disorders, and another category labelled “various disabilities” which may include a person with more than one disability.
Studies have shown that OKUs in Malaysia faces problems with inadequate infrastructure facilities and services as well as associability to education and discrimination in employment.
Catch the full VICE documentary on YouTube
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