LETTER | With all due respect and kindness, we refer to the proposed establishment of a Commission for Disability Inclusion and the enactment of a Disability Discrimination Act for the enforcement of the rights for persons with disabilities in Malaysia.
First of all, we would like to congratulate Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the victory of Pakatan Harapan in the 14th general election and on his appointment as prime minister. Our prayers are for the well-being of Mahathir, for him to be given strength and health by Allah S.W.T in order to be able to perform all the tasks and daily affairs with great blessings and peace.
Allow us to introduce “Harapan OKU”. We are representing persons with disabilities (Orang kurang upaya, or “OKU”) and have been actively involved in various activities and held a series of discussions with relevant government agencies on the issues that challenge persons with disabilities in Malaysia.
Unfortunately, so far, many of these issues have not been resolved and have not been properly addressed, even with the establishment of the Persons with Disabilities Act in 2008.
Respectfully we wish to highlight this matter with Mahathir and the new cabinet line-up, in order for the necessary steps to be taken to overcome these weaknesses.
As individuals, former and current members of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and members of persons with disabilities organisations, we wish to initiate discussions with our key proposals outlined below in our open letter to Mahathir.
We, the people of Malaysia, who are still marginalised and burdened by the poor implementation of various policies related to disability and development in this country, wish to seek for the review of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 (Act 685) and all other laws relevant to persons with disabilities, culminating in the establishment of a Commission for Disability Inclusion with enforcement powers, and the enactment of a Disability Discrimination Act.
Mahathir’s leadership is the very driving force needed in transforming this nation forward and in achieving full equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in this country that would be fulfilling Vision 2020 and beyond, where the aging society is inevitable.
By 2040, combined, the population of persons with disabilities and older persons will make up 34 percent of the population and many issues need to be addressed immediately in all sectors of housing, public spaces and amenities, transportation, education, employment, healthcare and other aspects of community and social life.
The Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 has been proven to be ineffective for the past decade, in not making the crucial changes neeed to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities as stated in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The proposed Disability Discrimination Act will complement the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008, and all other relevant laws.
This new act will provide for legal action and punitive measures for non-compliance with this act and all other relevant laws affecting persons with disabilities, by establishing a Commission for Disability Inclusion under the law that will monitor and ensure the successful implementation of policies and action plans in all areas to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities in Malaysia.
The new act and the commission should be within and under the purview of the respected Prime Minister’s Department and be answerable directly to the prime minister in order to integrate all the policies and laws across all ministries that are associated with disability, including accessibility and universal design.