Following Budget 2023, Malaysian paraplegic and founder of social enterprise PWD Smart FarmAbility Dr Billy Tang feels that more can be done to effectively improve the lives of wheelchair-users and the OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya) community.
Among the benefits announced yesterday (Oct 7) were RM1.2bil for OKUs for chronic patient care aid, allowance for those unable to work and allowance for disabled workers. Additionally, a RM10mil allocation in the form of ehailing services travel vouchers was also announced.
To encourage entrepreneurship among OKUs, the 1 OKU 1 Business scheme will be enhanced by exempting the registration and business license renewal fees.
Tang feels more should be done for the disabled community.
"Deserving disabled persons must be allocated more study grants/loans to pursue higher education in local colleges and universities," he said.
He also said more OKUs are entering the social entrepreneurship and business world.
"The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has wrecked and disrupted many OKU-operated businesses. The government must seriously and speedily address their sufferings.
"Startup business funds must be allocated to all deserving OKUs and the relevant government departments ought to provide and help all of them irrespective of race, religion or political affiliations.
"Fairness and equal distribution must be the fundamental yardstick in allocating financial assistance, trainings and courses to enhance their standard of living," he said.
Tang added that every district municipality/city council must have an appointed OKU representative to look into the affairs and welfare of the special needs group, ie parking bays, toilet facilities, accessibility into buildings, lift/elevator services, etc.
"Public and private transportation companies must provide 50% discount fares, including domestic flights, ferries, taxis and ehailing services. All OKU cardholders must be provided with at least 50% reduced insurance premiums that would cover life insurance and other medical benefits.
"OKUs should not be segregated from the mainstream society and special attention be given to all their needs," he stressed.