MEMBERS of the disabled community should not be discriminated against and be offered employment opportunities like able-bodied people.
Perak Health, Consumer Affairs, Civil Community, National Integration and Human Resources Committee Chairman A. Sivanesan said there should be anti-discrimination laws to ensure that capable disabled persons are offered jobs in the public and private sector.
Sivanesan said the disabled community us not receiving enough recognition and the Federal Government needs to ensure that they are also looked after.
“There needs to be a law to ensure the disabled community be allocated a certain percentage of jobs in both the public and private sector.
“The Federal Government needs to look into this matter and we need to push for it so they be given equal privileges just like any other person,” he told reporters after opening the biannual general meeting of the Society of the Blind Malaysia in Ipoh recently.
He said government-Linked entities and private-sector companies that do businesses with the government should step up in playing a bigger role in employing the disabled.
“There are those among the disabled who are capable of working as receptionists or as a toll booth attendants, for example.
“We are underestimating their ability as there are capable people from the community,” he said.
“There are also cabinet ministers in other parts of the world who are blind so its certainly possible that they can handle certain jobs in Malaysia,” he added.
Society of the Blind Malaysia president Mohammed Nazari Othman said he agrees with Sivanesan that disabled persons should not be discriminated against.
“He (Sivanesan )has brought up having an anti-discrimination act covering the disabled and I strongly agree that there should not be any discrimination. Everyone should have equal opportunities to get jobs.
“However, additional laws may not be necessary as the Persons with Disabilities Act already exists, though it is not properly enforced.
“I think we only need to make amendments to the current laws by including an anti-discrimination clause into the current act,” he said.
“The disabled community have long talked about this. We’ll probably try to meet with the new human resources minister to see how we can work things out,” he added.
Mohammed Nazri said there is a policy that says that 1% of the disabled community should be employed.
“However, we are still unable to reach the 1%. It is now somewhere between 0.7% or 0.8%.
“I strongly feel that the government needs to enforce the current act,” he said.
“There are quite a number of disabled persons that have passed their SPM or even graduated from universities but are finding it hard to get jobs,” he added.
He said all employers need to be educated about hiring capable disabled persons.
“They need to know that some of the disabled have the capability to do the jobs. Maybe some just need a job, such as a clerical position, that doesn’t require much mobility,” he said.
“Those who are graduates could even work as lecturers or teachers.
“I there are incentives for employers who hire the disabled,” he added.
Datin Mary Yeoh, chairman of charitable organisation Ray of Hope, said there should be a sustainable system that benefits employers and disabled employees.
“I love those under my care to bits but also as an employer I understand the situation that many companies would face if they hire a disabled person.
“Some may think twice because of the minimum wage policy as they could be hiring an able-bodied person for a similar sum who can do more than a disabled person,” said Yeoh, whose charity also runs a cafe that employs the disabled.
“Perhaps, there could be an understanding to pay the disabled a certain sum according to the hours they work and to also provide some form of social development programmes in lieu of a full payment,” she added.
Yeoh said in an ideal situation, the government should look into providing continuing education for people with disabilities.
“There needs to be a support system where a disabled person can continue to thrive in the outside world.
“There should be an institution to provide the disabled with support such as a job coach,” she said.
“The job coach will supervise and help train the disabled to work, saving employers from having to hire one themselves,” she added.
She also said she has seen disabled persons who have graduated from training schools and found employment but only to stop several months later.
“Some cannot adapt to the new surroundings and still need supervision. Thus, the need for a job coach,” she said.