PETALING JAYA: A group of people with disabilities, their families and supporters gathered at the Taman Jaya municipal lake park here to call for the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 to be abolished.
Calling themselves Harapan OKU, the group is instead proposing a Disability Discrimination Act to secure more rights for them.
Damai Disabled Persons Association Malaysia president V. Murugeswaran described the current Act as “toothless”.
“The Act merely serves as an administrative document with no enforcement powers,” he said yesterday.
“There was no compulsion on ministries and agencies to comply with rules nor was there any provision to investigate complaints of discrimination based on disability.”
The group urged for a more effective Act and a commission with full enforcement powers as well as for Malaysia to ratify Articles 15 and 18 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Article 15 pertains to “Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” while Article 18 relates to freedom of movement and nationality for disabled people.
The group also called for Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution to be amended to prohibit discrimination on grounds of disability.
Murugeswaran said these requests were forwarded to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister.
A meeting has been scheduled for July 9.
Former newscaster and disabled rights advocate Ras Adiba Radzi appealed for more access to information for all kinds of disabilities.
“Like more sign language interpreters for our friends who are deaf, and clear voiceovers and Braille documents for the blind,” she said.
In a symbolic gesture, participants held up papers bearing the words “Persons with Disabilities Act 2008”, crumpled them and threw them into a burning garbage can.
They also chanted “Make the rights real” in both Malay and English, followed by shouts of “We Love Malaysia”.
Edmond Lim and Yap Sook Yee were there with their seven-year-old son Branden, who has spinal muscular atrophy and moves around in a motorised wheelchair.
Lim noted that a lot of children with disabilities faced challenges going to school.
“We’ve gone to government schools, and because Branden is not strong enough to hold a pen, we asked if we could bring in a tablet but the school rules did not permit it,” he said.
Asked if Branden knew the significance of the gathering, the parents said he did.
“I want to walk,” said the boy.