2009 in this respect has been my most significant teacher yet in the classroom of life. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve learnt as a city councillor for Petaling Jaya (MBPJ), and as an individual with a disability.
I am thankful for all the support I received, especially the backing of my able-bodied colleagues on issues affecting the handicapped.
Such championing has turned the local council from being an entity that once was thought to provide too few disabled-friendly facilities to a vibrant one that is very much in touch with the needs of the disabled community.
Improved designs – incorporating audible and electronic alarms – in toilets for the disabled, covered car parks around the city, new guidelines for management of homes for the elderly, and free dog licences for vulnerable groups receiving animal-assisted therapy, are some of the many wonderful changes that I’ve been lucky to be part of, particularly in the past year.
None of these many milestones for the disabled would have come about without the setting up of a special disability committee chaired by a disabled person.
It would be great if all local councils throughout the country could come up with a New Year resolution to set up disability committees in their locales to speed up attempts to reach out to disabled and elderly residents.
The wheelchair user can remain seated whilst the wheelchair is being hauled up into the van. The MBPJ vans offer free rides to the handicapped anywhere in Petaling Jaya. This is a wonderful opportunity for the handicap to get out of their houses and do something positive with their lives, instead of being confined to their homes because of the lack of public transport.
All local councils should look into providing vans and services like these in their respective councils.
All the vans I’ve seen that are currently provided by them are used to ferry their able-bodied officers. One wonders why the department did not come up with such an initiative in the first place, given their longstanding tradition and experience of working with the disabled. A new mindset will certainly go a long way in making a positive difference in the lives of Malaysians with disabilities.