WHILE accessibility for the disabled in public places around Penang has greatly improved in recent times, more can still be done.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said this during the Society of Disabled Persons Penang’s (SDPP) Chinese New Year celebration.
“In the past five to 10 years, local councils have made great strides in ensuring that facilities are disabled-friendly, and put in place policies and laws.
“However, we still see instances of able-bodied motorists occupying specially designated car parks for the disabled, for their own convenience.
“This deprives the disabled of a much-needed facility,” Chow said of the lots marked in distinctive blue-coloured paint.
SDPP president Datuk Teh Lay Kuan said the problem was especially bad at private establishments such as hypermarkets.
“They may have allocated parking spaces for the disabled, but there is no enforcement. More often than not, these are taken up by the able-bodied.
“We hope the private sector would do their part by enforcing a clamp policy for disabled parking lots,” Teh stressed.
She also called on authorities and builders to ensure that gradients for wheelchair ramps conform to specifications, as some were too steep.
Chow, Teh and other VIPs then took part in a yee sang tossing session, after which the God of Prosperity emerged to distribute red packets.
Held at the Goh Kongsi in Noordin Street, Penang, the dinner on Monday saw the attendance of over 200 guests, over half being SDPP members.
They were joined by friends from the Penang Cheshire Home, Silver Jubilee Home for the Aged and the Special Children’s Centre Penang.
Attendees were treated to a sumptuous meal and entertained by a series of musical performances and lucky draws.
On the event, Teh said: “We’ve held it yearly since 1988. Chinese New Year is a good time to get together, enjoy each other’s company and be happy.”
Chow remembered attending around 20 such gatherings organised by the SDPP over the years, and praised the society for being a forerunner in raising disability awareness amongst the public.
“It has indeed been a hard prolonged task for the SDPP to assume its role as the leader in disability advocacy and to work together with the state government in ensuring a better livelihood and better public facilities for people with disabilities,” he added.
Also present were Pengkalan Kota assemblyman Daniel Gooi, Pulau Tikus assemblyman Chris Lee and Gerakan deputy president Oh Tong Keong.