15 per cent of the Malaysian community has a disability. Another 20 to 30 per cent are care partners, volunteers and professionals involved in their lives.
Collectively, we comprise 30 to 40 per cent of the Malaysian electorate. Although from diverse backgrounds, we are united on the rights and needs of persons with disabilities.
It would be prudent for politicians and political parties, especially those hoping to be elected as Members of Parliament or State Assemblymen, to heed the views of voters who are associated with disability and the OKU community.
The vast majority of the disability community are registered voters who make the effort to vote, despite challenges.
The OKU community and care partners (parents, families, carers) have been neglected, overlooked and marginalised for far too long. We will not accept this any longer. The major concerns that involve the daily struggles of adults and children with disabilities include:
- Improve employment inclusion — better and wider job opportunities.
- Improve education inclusion — inclusion in mainstream classes with reasonable accommodation.
- Implement Universal Building By-Laws UBBL34A 1984 — make public facilities accessible not just for OKU, but also for older adults facing mobility issues as part of ageing.
- Enforce the rights of persons with disabilities.
Over decades, there has been only marginal improvement on these issues. No game changer resource investment and efforts have been made.
Are you hoping to be elected? Do you want our votes?
If you want our votes, what will you do to strengthen our rights and make inclusive education and employment a reality?
Will you support the urgent amendment of the Persons with Disabilities (PwD) Act 2008, to give it the scope and powers to enforce the rights of persons with disabilities?
We shall vote for the parties and candidates with a disability-inclusive political manifesto and that show understanding of implementing disability-inclusive action plans. We shall vote for the election manifesto that specifies the following:
- A plan to revise the PwD Act 2008, within two years of taking office, to give it the scope and powers to enforce the rights of persons with disabilities.
- A commitment to significantly improve real inclusion and accessibility for persons with disabilities in the Malaysian education, vocational training and employment sectors.
- A commitment to implement universal design principles to ensure persons with disabilities and care partners can move around freely in the community.
- A pledge to engage with persons with disabilities, parents of children with disabilities and care partners to understand our concerns.
All of you who need our votes to get elected, please listen to our lived experiences. Value our voices.
We appeal to all political parties to find GE15 candidates with experience of effectively tackling OKU issues. Consider fielding experienced persons with disabilities as political candidates. If you earn points on this score card, you stand a chance to be considered by us as a voting bloc.
We strongly encourage you to have Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia (BIM) interpreting services as a standard part of your ceramah and audio-visual social media posts. Make all your information materials for the public screen reader-accessible; this includes all websites and online services.
We thank the Election Commission for efforts made so far for OKU participation in the election process. We ask that you now remove all remaining barriers to voting. Please improve the accessibility of checking voting registration and the voting process for all persons with diverse disabilities.
Information for making informed choices must be in formats that can be accessed. For example, Deaf voters need BIM interpreting, Blind voters need screen reader accessibility, and many voters need information in Easy Read format. All online processes and services must be totally screen reader accessible and in accordance with the latest international standards.
For example, ensure that the captcha form on ‘myspr semak’ is screen reader-accessible. Please improve the accessibility of voting venues for voters with disabilities and older persons. Accessibility improvements for persons with diverse disabilities benefit everyone.
It is time that Malaysian policy and lawmakers bring the nation into the 21st century where disability is concerned. We need to move away from the prevalent charity and welfare model and move towards the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities in society.
We hope that GE15 will be a turning point in our nation’s history. As a nation, let us move together on inclusion as a universal human right.
Join us in respecting and valuing the dignity and worth of every person. Show us how you will include persons with diverse disabilities, older persons, care partners and allies.
We urge you to support #OKURightsMatter.
More details on the views of the OKU community can be found in this report.
- Dr Amar-Singh HSS, Advisor, National Early Childhood Intervention Council and member, OKURightsMatter Project
- Ras Adiba Radzi
- Aimee Chan, Persatuan Kebajikan Sri Eden Selangor dan KL
- Angie Heng, Executive Director, Kiwanis Down Syndrome Foundation
- Anit Kaur Randhawa, member of Harapan OKU Law Reform Group and Vice President (Legal), Medico Legal Society Malaysia (MLSM)
- Association for the Concerned Citizens and Parents of Handicapped Children, Bintulu
- Association of Women with Disabilities Malaysia
- Boleh Space
- Chan Saw Si, Wings Melaka
- Damai Disabled Person Associatian Malaysia
- Khatijah Sulaiman, President, Malaysian Council for Rehabilitation
- Doris Catherine Lim, Persatuan Kebajikan Anak2 Istimewa Selangor
- Edmund Lim, President, Persatuan WeCareJourney
- Eunice Tan, The Seed Childcare Centre, Johor Bahru
- Feilina Feisol (RMHC), Nasom
- Harapan OKU Law Reform Group
- Kaveinthran, Co-Leader, Disability Rights Cluster, CSO Platform for Reform
- Khor Ai-Na, CEO, Asia Community Service
- Kong Lan Lee, Director, Persuatuan Kanak-Kanak Istimewa Kajang Selangor.
- Lam Mary, Chairman, Pertunuhan Perkhidmatan Intervensi Awal, BP
- Lim Mei Yek, Kuching Association of Talent Development and Welfares of Special Needs
- Lim Tien Hong, Chairperson Jawatankuasa Komunikasi, Advokasi dan Hak Asasi, SBM
- Malaysian Association of Sign Lang Interpreters (MyASLI)
- Michelle Lai, Chairperson, New Horizons Society, Ipoh
- Malaysia Independent Living Association for Disabled
- Malaysia Parents with Disabilities Association
- Mental Health Association of Sarawak
- Ng Lai-Thin, Project Officer, National Early Childhood Intervention Council
- Norhana Abu Bakar, President, Persatuan Sindrom Down Malaysia
- Persatuan OKU Sentral
- Persatuan Pemulihan Sultan Azlan Shah, Ipoh
- PIBAKAT – Pertubuhan Ibu Papa Keperluan Istimewa Sarawak
- Prudence Lingham, Persatuan CHILD Sabah
- Dr Ramanathan, Yayasan Ipoh
- Sarawak Association for the Welfare of Intellectually Disabled Children (Perkata)
- Sarawak Society for the Deaf
- Sharifah Tahir, Care Partner and Advocate, Founder of UniquelyMeInitiatives
- Simon Hoo, Chairman, SPICES Early Intervention Centre
- Dr Simon Huang, Chairman, Kuching Methodist Care Centre
- Society of Chinese Disabled Persons Malaysia
- Stella Chia, Pusat Jagaan Kanak-kanak Ceria Murni, Kepong KL
- Dr Tan Liok Ee, President, BOLD Association for Children with Special Needs Penang
- The OKU Rights Matter Project
- Teo Kun Yong, Pertubuhan Pendidikan Kanak-Kanak Istimewa Harmoni Cheras, Selangor
- United Voice (Self-Advocacy Society of Persons with Learning Disabilities)
- Dr Wong Woan Yiing, Committee Member, NETWORK for the Needs of Children with Disabilities Perak
- Wong Hui Min, President, National Early Childhood Intervention Council
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.