MALAYSIA will join the rest of the world in celebrating International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPwD) 2021.
Since 1992, the United Nations has declared Dec 3 as IDPwD, with the aim of promoting the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities (PwD), raising awareness on related issues and highlighting every aspect of their lives – political, social, economic and cultural.
As in previous years, the government, through the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, will celebrate the National Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec 3 in conjunction with IDPwD 2021.
On this day, the country pays tribute to those who have contributed towards the development, empowerment and acceptance of PwD in Malaysia, while raising awareness on issues the that plague them.
The theme for IDPwD 2021 is Leadership and Participation of Persons with Disabilities Toward an Inclusive, Accessible and Sustainable Post-Covid-19 World. This theme reflects the current national and world situation, as Malaysia is still battling the epidemic.
Earlier on Oct 27, the ministry launched a registration system for PwD called MyDaftar OKU as part of the efforts of improving the existing registration system that uses the OKU Information System (SMOKU) platform.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun said MyDaftar OKU would also enhance the service delivery for disabled persons, in line with the eighth thrust of the Action Plan for PwD 2016-2022.
PwD like all Malaysians have been impacted by the pandemic as they too have seen the loss of loved ones, jobs, access to education and food, and suffered poor mental health which has led to suicide.
The police reported 638 suicide cases (Petah Wazzah Iskandar, utusan.com.my, Sept 10, 2021) – an increase of 143% compared to 262 cases in the same period last year.
When the country enters the endemic phase, PwD and those responsible for their welfare need to be prepared and take a comprehensive approach to face challenges in the years to come.
The many economic, social, political and health issues faced by PwD need to be addressed in an integrated manner akin to the Keluarga Malaysia initiative by all parties across different agencies and organisations.
Leadership and participation
After almost two years of fighting this virus, it is obvious that leadership and full participation by all parties is integral to achieve a “we must win” aspiration.
In line with Keluarga Malaysia, the fight against Covid-19 involves three main thrusts of inclusion, togetherness and gratitude, which cover PwD.
With that, the PwD community should assert their credibility and authority, and become leaders in the Covid-19 endemic stage, to ensure they continue competing and thriving in these increasingly challenging times.
Leadership is one of the most important elements in forming an organisation and a goal, and with Covid-19, many have come to realise the importance of PwD leadership and individual participation or non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The strategic partnership between the government and the PwD leadership can help ensure that PwD and their families can thrive in the new normal.
One positive step is to appoint a PwD representative as a Senate member at the Dewan Negara. A PwD Senate member can fight for the rights and recognition of PwD.
Representing the PwD
During the lockdown period and beyond, issues pertaining to PwD were raised in the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, to allay their concerns that they would not be sidelined.
An example of PwD leadership is the opening of the first vaccination centre (PPV) for the visually impaired at the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur – an MAB initiative with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Another involved NGO participation, in this case the OKU Sentral Association, as Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi collaborated with MOSTI and MOH to set up two drive-by vaccination centres for PwD at the Sime Darby plantation in Ara Damansara, Selangor, and at the Johor Bahru City Council Aquatic Centre.
The national council for PwD (Majlis Kebangsaan bagi Orang Kurang Upaya or MKBOKU), which was established in accordance with the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008, also maintains the importance of PwD leadership and active participation.
MKBOKU oversees the implementation and the monitoring of national policies and action plans relating to PwD by the relevant ministries, agencies, non-governmental organisations as well as the private sector.
It also makes recommendations to the government on all aspects of PwD, including matters relating to their support, care, protection, rehabilitation, development and well-being.
To ensure their fair participation and PwD voices from across the country be heard, MKBOKU will represent key communities such as PwD parents, the visually impaired and others. These are part of the 12th Malaysia Plan to empower PwD to be independent and actively involved in society.
The strategy requires full commitment, especially from PwD, to think ahead in order to lead Keluarga Malaysia’s efforts towards inclusive living.