Set up special department for persons with disabilities, Senator urges govt

KUALA LUMPUR: A member of the Dewan Negara proposed on Thursday (Sept 21) that the government establish a Department of Special People Affairs under the supervision of the Prime Minister's Department to ensure that the welfare of persons with disabilities (OKU) is protected.

Senator Isaiah Jacob (pic) said the department could be a platform for the wishes and proposals of this group to be heard, thus empowering the community as they are seen to be lagging behind compared to other countries.

"There are far too many issues related to OKU, as such, the government needs to give them special focus. As the Social Welfare Department (JKM) is burdened with several other tasks, the establishment of this department is viewed as appropriate to ensure the fundamental rights of the group are protected.

"As this matter is related to the rights of OKU, I recommend that if the department is established, it must be headed by people from the group," he said when debating the motion for the 12th Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review at the Dewan Negara Thursday.

In the meantime, Isaiah, who is also an OKU, hoped that the government would focus on providing conducive and disabled-friendly facilities at higher education centres and schools across the country.

He said that despite various efforts being made to meet the needs of the disabled, several schools and educational institutions still fail to provide appropriate basic facilities such as proper toilet facilities for the group.

"This makes it extremely difficult for OKU children so I hope the government will focus more on fulfilling the needs of this group," he said.

Dewan Negara deputy president Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, who chaired the meeting, expressed his support for Isaiah and urged Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek to take note of the proposal.

"Since the Education Minister is present here today, I wish to summarise that schools should be installed with the proper facilities and there should be no discrimination against OKU," he said.

Nur Jazlan said he was touched by Isaiah's speech and called on all parties to pay attention to the plight of OKU. - Bernama

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