Disability Discrimination Act and Commission for Disability Inclusion :- “Make Our Right Real in Malaysia!!”

We, of Harapan OKU, members from organisations of persons with disabilities and civil society organisations, together with our friends, parents, families and supporters, are gathered here today, to express our commitment to working with the newly elected government, on the many issues affecting community of persons with disabilities and older persons in this country.

Inspired by the historic CHANGE in government, we, too, want a radical CHANGE in the way we are being perceived and treated. For far too long, we have been perceived as objects of charity when we should be the subjects of our own destiny. For decades, we have been perceived as ‘burden’ to family and society when in fact we can be enabled to become productive and active contributors to society and to our beloved country.

We want CHANGE from exclusion to inclusion in all aspects of developments in this country which affect our lives.

We want CHANGE from welfare-based to rights-based approach to disability issues concerning us.

We want CHANGE from segregation to integration and full participation of disabled persons in all areas of life.

We want CHANGE from being in the state of helplessness to empowerment- to take charge and to be in charge of our lives.

We want CHANGE from being confined to institutional homes to living independently within the community.

We want CHANGE from having a “toothless” PWD Act to an effective Disability Discrimination Act and Commission with full enforcement power to “make the right real”.

61 years since Malaysia achieved independence. We, PWDs in this country are still struggling to experience the true meaning of independence! Ten years since Malaysia signed the CRPD. Ten years since Malaysia enacted the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008. Pwds continue to face barriers and discrimination in everyday life. Pwds continue to be deprived of the many basic rights – the right to early intervention, pre-education, education & higher learning, employment, transportation, work and public places, healthcare and other political, economic, religious, cultural and social opportunities. Pwds remain the most marginalized group in society.

While PWD Act 2008 was introduced to promote the rights of Pwds in the country, the Act has failed and proven not effective in protecting the rights of Pwds. The Act merely serves as an administrative document with no enforcement powers. Under the Act, the National Council serves as a coordinating body to implement National Policy on PWDs and Action Plan.

There is no compulsion on other Ministries and Agencies to comply. They merely give reports. There is also no provision in the Act to set up a body or to appoint a person to investigate alleged breaches of the Act or complaints of disability related discrimination .

There is no provision for PWDs to seek legal remedies or redress in the face of discrimination in any area, be it education, employment, public transport, housing or others.

Today like the rest in the country, we feel a surge of new hope for a new Malaysia. We urge the government to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities in this country by taking immediate actions on the following :-

1. To enact a Disability Discrimination Act with strong punitive measures to protect the rights of Pwds and to eliminate discrimination against us in all aspects of life,

2. To establish a Commission for disability inclusion with enforcement authority to monitor and ensure implementation in all government and private sector entities at all levels,

3. To ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and withdraw the previous Government reservations to Articles 15 and 18 of the CRPD,

4. To amend Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution to prohibit discrimination on ground of disability.
We have forwarded our requests to Y.A.B. Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister, and she has graciously agreed to have a discussion with us on the above matters on 9th July 2018.

A progressive and successful Malaysia will ensure that the well being of all her marginalized groups including PWDs are taken care of and their rights well protected.

Together, Let Us Forge Ahead and Move Forward Towards a New Inclusive, Progressive and Successful Malaysia !!

We Love Malaysia !!