Lack of punitive action a hindrance, say groups

PETALING JAYA: The lack of punitive action for companies not putting up facilities for the disabled has slowed down the progress in the improvement of services and facilities for them, say disabled groups.

“When there is no punishment, people will not take it seriously. This is why we have been pushing for a new Disability Discri­mination Act to be enacted,” Damai Disabled Persons Association Ma­­lay­sia president Murugeswaran Veerasamy said.

“In places where there is a Disability Discrimination Act, disabled persons can take action against fast-food chains that do not provide washrooms for the community. But here, we can’t.”

Murugeswaran said with such an Act, orders and instructions given by a commission or authority must be complied.

Many government buildings were not disabled-friendly and lack facilities for the group, he noted.

“About 90% of the schools, mainly built by the Public Works Depart­ment, are not accessible to people with disabilities. It is inconvenient for disabled parents to send their children to school,” he said.

While RapidKL buses and the MRT were disabled-friendly, bus stops were not, he said.

Klang Beautiful Gate Foundation for the Disabled volunteer committee chairman Samuel Siah said it was not so much the disabilities but the environment that hindered wheelchair users.

“Some companies are willing to hire the disabled but are forced to give up when there are insufficient facilities at their workplaces,” he said.

Murugeswaran said the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 is more like a guideline than law as there was no penalty for non-compliance.

“Under Section 41 of the Act, the law seems to protect the government more than the disabled persons,” he said.