FOR 14 years, Ho Chan Yeow’s life has revolved around the busy McDonald’s Restaurant in Sungei Wang, Kuala Lumpur.
Ho, 36, who is deaf and dumb, has been part of the food chain for the past 14 years and is recognised as one of the most hardworking staff members in the kitchen. He is known to be focused and hardworking.
With a little help from a colleague, who understands sign language, the shy Ho said that he loved what he did and everyone was like family to him.
He said that there were not many job opportunities for people like him and he was grateful and encouraged by being appreciated and respected by his co-workers.
Joshua Chua, 27, who also works at McDonald’s, said that the opportunity to be part of the worldwide corporate organisation was a good feeling.
“I love working here because I have many friends. This is my first job because it is hard for someone like me to find a job. We may be unable to hear and talk but we can read lips and interpret body language and facial expressions,” he said.
“I really don’t know how others feel about people like me but I am glad that an organisation like McDonald's is willing to give us a chance to lead as normal a life as possible,” he said.
Chua said that it felt great to wake up every morning and know that there was a job to go to.
McDonald’s Malaysia managing director Azmir Jaafar said that they had 30 persons with disability (PWD) working in their organisation.
“There is no discrimination and we are receptive to anyone who can work. Most of the PWD are deaf and dumb. We also have some people with Down Syndrome. They are working mostly in the Klang Valley and Penang. We make sure that proper training is given and have a buddy system to help them,” he said.
“The working culture at McDonald’s is that everyone is treated like a family member, we don’t discriminate in terms of increment or promotion, everything depends on their work performance,” Azmir said.
“There is a lack of awareness in terms of employment opportunities and in this area the government and media can help create awareness. Most PWD can work in any industry. They must be given the chance to increase their self-esteem,” he said.
Azmir said that the company would continue employing those with disabilities.
Mohd Subhi Long, 27, was not born with any disability but an accident that happened 13 years ago changed his life forever. He was paralysed from the waist down and his love for sports also came to a halt.
It took him more than two years to accept his condition. After checking into a rehabilitation centre for PWD, he slowly began to accept his disability.
“I had to learn to take care of myself medically and physically. With physiotherapy, advice from doctors and family support. I managed to change. It was quite hard for me to move on with my life, especially in finding a suitable job. Most people still feel pity when they see people like me and some feel compelled to help,” Subhi said.
“There are very few job opportunities for PWD but I hope this will change in the future. Also, the change must come from the PWD, who still find it hard to come out and face the challenges,” he said.
“I joined Carrefour at the call centre and I found time to play games. My friends and colleagues don’t look at my disability but treat me as their equal,” Subhi said.
He said that more PWDs should take the initiative to step out into the real world as there were opportunities to make a life for themselves.
B. Achuthan, 26, said his first day at Carrefour was good as everyone was friendly and welcoming.
“I didn’t feel like I was different from them. In Malaysia, most PWD are given sympathy and not enough opportunity. They tend to look at what we don’t have and they are not bothered about what we can do,” he said.
“It’s certainly a great feeling when you have organisations like Carrefour which gives us the opportunity to make a career for ourselves,” Achuthan said.
According to Carrefour Malaysia human resource director Mohamad Fauzi Hassan, the hiring was based on competency, skills and behaviour.
“We have been hiring PWD for many years but it has only become more obvious of late. There are 15 PWD altogether working in the bakery, salad bar, call centres and other areas. We also have one in the HR department,” he said.
“Their commitment to their jobs must be praised as they give their best. They are just like everyone else who wants to be recognised for their skills. They are capable and organisations should give them a chance,” Fauzi said.
“At the end of the day, they don’t want to be given the fish but want to be taught how to fish. We all should give them that much,” he said.
Fauzi saidthat Carrefour was a caring and responsible organisation and would continue its efforts by providing an avenue for the less fortunate.
Society of the Orthopaedically Handicapped Malaysia (POCAM) president Assoc Prof Dr Tiun Ling Ta said the PWD worked hard at keeping their jobs.
“I think the main barrier is the stereotyping and lack of awareness among employers as most don’t understand the abilities of PWD. Most of the jobs offered are not based on their abilities, resulting in low-pay jobs,” Tiun said.