Renowned disabled activist Peter Tan passes away


KLANG: Renown disabled activist, Peter Tan, succumbed to multi-organ failure on Thursday (Sept 23) morning.

Tan, 55, was well known for his excellent writing skills as well as his passionate advocacy of accessibility for the disabled community.

The Penangite first caught public attention when he started his blog called The Digital Awakening in 2003, in which he poured his heart out over many issues.

Those who followed his blog came to understand the lives and limitations of disabled people like Tan.

Tan, who was an only child, became paralysed chest downwards in a diving accident when he was just 19 in 1984.

In the same year he started the blog, Tan lost his mother, Theresa Lim, to cancer.

In his blog, he wrote how his mother’s illness and subsequent death had “made him grow up” and he had to take on responsibilities and make decisions which he never imagined he would have had to.

“Among the most painful choices that I had to make was to stop treatment and medication for mum and the decision not to resuscitate her,” Tan had written.

He had taken care of his mother at home with the help of the Penang Hospice and as a mark of gratitude, shaved his long hair, which he had kept for three years, to raise RM5,000 for the organisation.

Tan’s efforts were covered by The Star on Oct 24, 2005 in a feature article titled “Debt of Gratitude”.

In 2007, Tan married the love of his life, accountant Ng Swee Wuan, after a nine-year-courtship and the couple settled in Kuala Lumpur.

Tan’s activism also gained momentum and he started his own company Peter Tan Training in 2013 to conduct disability equality training (DET) in Malaysia.

At the time of his passing, Tan was the international coordinator of DET Forum, a network of more than 500 DET facilitators from 38 countries and territories across the Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America.

From the time of the inception of his company, Tan has conducted training and workshops for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), Malaysia Aviation Group (Malaysia Airlines, Firefly, MasWings and AeroDarat Services), Prasarana Malaysia Berhad, Unicef, Asean Secretariat, Department of Social Welfare Malaysia, Social Security Organisation (Socso), Job Coach Network Malaysia, universities, hospitals, multinational corporations and disabled people’s organisations.

Tan leaves behind his wife Ng, as well as a host of relatives and friends.

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