YONG Yek Ming, 56, is a single father of two sons with autism.
His sons, Yong Wei Jie, 21, and Yong Wei Xiang, 20, were stressed out during the movement control order because they could not participate in activities they enjoyed.
As a distraction, Yek Ming would often rope the boys in to do household chores, such as cutting vegetables.
A WhatsApp chat group for parents with autistic children, which Yek Ming created in 2016, was also useful in providing social support during the MCO.
Yek Ming’s ex-wife, whom he divorced in 2018 and is now in Kedah, is still involved in the lives of their children.
He said she would call and talk to them almost daily.
According to Yek Ming, his sons were the inspiration behind the Malaysian movie Redha, directed by Tunku Mona Riza in 2016.
“The lead character was based on my second son, Wei Xiang. For two years before the movie was made, the makers observed the behaviourial patterns of my son closely.
“I am all for creating awareness about autism. But if we want to opt for privacy, then we cannot create that awareness, ” he pointed out.
Every year for his birthday, Yek Ming has only one wish – to hear his second son call him “dad”.
But his concerns about those on the autism spectrum go beyond that simple wish.
“There is too much red tape when it comes to seeking aid for the autistic.
“Why can’t we have all applications for aid done entirely online?
“It is almost impossible for me to travel with my sons to get all the paperwork done as I do not have a maid or an assistant, ” he said.
Yek Ming’s biggest worry is about the future of autistic adults when they no longer have parents.
“We need the authorities’ to step in when these adults become orphans or when there is no one to care for them.
“Therefore, it is necessary to have a home managed by the government for this purpose.
“Some parents may have set up trust funds for their autistic children, but there is still need for a facility for these adults that can be monitored by the government, ” said Yek Ming, who has come up with a model on a home for autistic adults to live independently.
However, he admits that it will need strong commitment from the government to make such a home a reality.
“We must start somewhere and the government could lease us land near a hospital and other amenities for the home, ” he suggested.