Malaysians urged to be a more caring society

Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi urged employees to open up and allow more physically-challenged and disabled people within the society to be given more opportunity for making a living, including employment. He said this at the Prime Minister’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Awards presentation.

The Star has the story:

Employ the disabled, says PM

PM urges for a more caring society

KUALA LUMPUR: She is a capable woman and presentable enough to be a newscaster – but she could not get long-term employment because she is wheelchair-bound.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, stressing that he wants Malaysia to have a culture of caring where those who need help know they will receive help, said it reminded him of the woman.

“She looks good and capable. I told her she could be in front of the camera or become a compere.

“But she told me, she had yet to find a job,” Abdullah said, not naming the woman.

Best of the lot: Abdullah presenting the overall award to DiGi chief executive officer Morten Lundal at the Prime Minister’s CSR Awards presentation in Kuala Lumpur yesterday while Shahrizat looks on.

“No one wanted to employ her because she sat in a wheelchair,” he told corporate bigwigs at the Prime Minister’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Awards presentation here yesterday.

Representatives from Petronas, Maybank, BP Malaysia, DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd and Procter and Gamble (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd were among those who attended the event.

“Companies must give attention and be ready to employ disabled people who are able to perform the tasks given and do something for the company,” he said.

Abdullah said jobs should be offered to suitable candidates even if they were handicapped, adding that this is what folks in a caring society would do.

The Prime Minister said a progressive Malaysia meant that the people would enjoy quality of life.

More important, he added, the disadvantaged – such as the sickly, the poor and the handicapped – are assured they also have a place in this country and would be well cared for.

He said the nation and its people had demonstrated its caring nature in many ways and it was a contribution he hoped would continue to flourish.

The awards are given in recognition of companies that carry out strong community and social responsibility projects.

There were 316 entries from 161 companies for the award. They competed in seven categories, including education, environment and workplace practices.

DiGi Telecommunications was named the overall winner.

It also grabbed first places in two other categories – best workplace practice and protecting culture and heritage.

Present at the event were Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Effendi Norwawi.

Malaysians generally do not provide enough for the physically-challenged disabled members of the society, even them being paying customers. AirAsia, Malaysia’s extensive domestic airline operator, only until recently made provisions for the wheel-chair-bound-disabled segment of passengers, after so much complaints from the walking impaired members on the society and the mainstream media highlighted their plight.

The Star has a report on this, dated 17 July 2007:

Protest held against AirAsia

SEPANG: More than 20 disabled and wheelchair-bound members of the Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) held a protest against AirAsia for its refusal to take passengers who were completely immobile.

The protesters, headed by the group’s co-ordinator Christine Lee, and assistant co-ordinators V. Murugeswaran and Peter Tan, demanded AirAsia reviews its policies and takes reasonable steps to ensure facilities and services provided at the low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) are non-discriminatory.

Include us: The Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group holding the protest at LCCT yesterday. It wants AirAsia to review its policies and ensure it is disabled-friendly.

Lee said that unlike KLIA, the LCCT does not incorporate aerobridges, which allow easier access for passengers to board planes.

“Passengers are instead required to walk up a flight of boarding stairs – a daunting task when one is disabled from the waist down,” she said.

Lee said that when booking AirAsia tickets online, a separate icon would appear on the website asking if the ticket purchaser would require “special assistance”.

“If you clicked ‘yes’, then you won’t be able to proceed with your booking.

“That’s when I called AirAsia’s call centre, and was told that they were unable to accept passengers who are completely immobile.

“This is even stipulated in AirAsia’s terms and conditions!” she added.

Lee also said that AirAsia charged RM12 for renting out a wheelchair, which a passenger could use to go from the ticketing counter to the departure hall.

“One would then have to go from the check-in gate to the aircraft without the wheelchair, which is quite absurd.”

Murugeswaran pointed out that AirAsia also stipulated that the carriage of persons with limited mobility was subject to whether they were able to climb the boarding stairs unaided or aided.

“Passengers who are unable to board the stairs without any assistance would be requested to travel with a caregiver or companion.

“This is blatantly discriminating, unfair and unacceptable. We want to be independent and not have to rely on other people to chaperon us when travelling,” he said, adding that nothing has been done despite BEAT holding a dialogue with AirAsia on the matter more than two years ago.

During the protest, BEAT also urged Malaysia Airports Bhd to ensure all new and old airports in the country are equipped with facilities to improve accessibility to disabled passengers.

When contacted, an AirAsia spokesman said they were unable to comment on the matter at present.

This was BEAT’s statement on the same issue. Read also the wheel-bound blogger Kerp, for his personal feeling on the subject matter.

Generally, limited opportunities are made available for the physically challenged Malaysians to get seats in institute of higher learning, employment opportunities and equality at work places and grants, business loans and seed capital for them as a start up to go into entrepreneurial ventures. Even building owners and builders are not sensitive enough to their needs and limitations when a facility is erected. The wheel-bound-physically-challenged members of society are still not provided for in feeder buses and LRTs/commuter trains within the Klang Valley, the most apt demography amongst Malaysians.

 

A research on damaging double standard prevents Malaysia’s disabled from living normal lives has been found. One academician, Lynne Norazit, presented her paper on “Double standards for Malaysia’s disabled” at the University of Melbourne. in 2005.

However, one online employment portal is making provisions to facilitate the needs of the disabled seeking position in the Malaysian job market. The Johor State government has already made provisions of therapy for 1,800 disabled children in the state by 58 medical practitioners. Therapies to help the disabled such as horse back riding has also been introduced by an NGO.

Digi Bhd., the winner of this year’s CSR awards organised a conference to raise the awareness on the issues of the disabled recently.

 
Open Mind, Open Hearts Conference
Digi Telecommunication Sdn. Bhd. is organising a conference on “Open Mind, Open Hearts”, to raise the awareness on issues faced by the disabled in Malaysia.
01 November 2007

 

This is MDEC’s effort to create a directory for the disabled and elderly Malaysians to seek on what’s available which are listed online. The Chartered Association of Certified Acocuntants (ACCA) Malaysian Chapter listed some of the legislation governing the well being of the disabled persons, as outlined in its Guidebook on Personal Finance.

Having said all that, Malaysians, be it the authorities, corporate bodies, business entities, professional bodies, NGOs and communities, should do more for the disabled and physically challenged members amongst ourselves as a society, for a more caring Malaysia.

Published in: on November 15, 2007 at 10:15  Comments (9)