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Former Paralympic Athlete Now Selling Tissue Covers In Bukit Bintang, Netizens Heartbroken
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Former Paralympic Athlete Now Selling Tissue Covers In Bukit Bintang, Netizens Heartbroken

Her plight was highlighted a few years ago in Penang as well.

Anne Dorall

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Koh Lee Peng once brought glory to Malaysia as a top Paralympic athlete. However, now at the age of 48, it seems that our country has failed her. She is forced to sell tissue covers on the roadside to survive.

Twitter user @fxwxb documented his meeting with her and her heartbreaking story in a thread.

He first noticed the recognizable ‘Harimau Malaya’ polo shirt that all national athletes wear.

She was also holding a battered newspaper clipping of herself, with the headline reading “Former OKU Paralympic Swimmer Scorned”.

She introduced herself as Koh Lee Peng from Penang and claimed that “she is not ashamed of her current job (selling tissue covers)” even though she was one of Malaysia’s best and brightest just less than a decade ago.

Koh even told @fxwxb that he could look her up on YouTube if he did not believe her.

The present and the past

It turns out that just a few years ago, the story broke that she was heavily scorned while selling tissue packets in her hometown Penang.

According to Berita Harian, she had been insulted and ignored when she was selling tissue packets in Bukit Mertajam, with locals calling her ‘part of a syndicate’ or claiming she was an illegal foreigner from Vietnam, Thailand, or the Philippines.

Koh is confined to a wheelchair and cannot use both legs. While previously she held an office job, the workplace was located in a building without a lift, making her daily life extremely difficult.

Without another choice, Koh had to turn to the street to earn a living.

In 2019, after her plight made national news, she and fellow paralympians were awarded with cash aid and a token monthly allowance of RM300.

Her plight is common for former athletes

However, her story isn’t uncommon. In April 2021, a Vice documentary exposed how retired paralympians are treated in Malaysia, drawing huge criticism from Malaysians.

READ MORE: Vice Documentary Exposes Malaysia’s Negligence Towards OKUs

Just a few days later, government agencies showed up and made a big show of gifting cash aid and even a home to retired weight-lifting paralympian Mariappan Perumal.

Malaysia’s OKU population struggles with being routinely overlooked.
(Credit: VICE NEWS/YouTube)

READ MORE: Malaysia’s “Forgotten” Paralympian Meets With KBS Minister & Gets New House

Malaysia’s Paralympian team are formidable opponents in their respective sports, especially when competing in international competitions.

However, in general, despite the incredible feats that Malaysia’s Paralympians have performed, it seems that once their fame and glory are over, they are simply forgotten.

READ MORE: The M’sian Paralympic Team Are Coming Home With 3 Golds And 2 Silver Medals And We Couldn’t Be Prouder

I’m tweeting from a place of anger & disappointment.

Twitter user @fxwxb

Naturally, the surfacing of this story upset netizens, who are demanding better treatment for our former athletes.


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