Amend Article 8(2) to protect the disabled, social activist tells fed govt

Datuk Seri Ang Lai Soon (File Photo).

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KUCHING, Oct 5: Social activist Dato Sri Ang Lai Soon calls upon the federal government to amend Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution to protect persons with disabilities.

He said the Article does not expressly mention the disabled or to prohibit discrimination based on disability of a person.

“At the same time, Parliament should make express provisions to enforce rights of the disabled such as access to employment, education, access to buildings and public facilities, services for the disabled, and provide remedies or penalties for breach of provisions in the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008,” he said in a statement today.

As Malaysia has been hoping to enjoy the status of a developed country, he also urged the government to set up a National Disability Rights Tribunal to investigate any breach of the Act and impose or recommend penalties or solutions for non-compliance which seems to be happening everyday.

“Human nature being what it is, there is this tendency to breach rules and break the law for material gains or power. Some in desperation will go for the smallest short=term gain.

“In some highly organised and disciplined countries, it appears that this unlawful criminal act is brought down to the minimum. It is impossible to have everybody being law-abiding in any country at any time as long as there is a race called human being. We must accept that,” he opined.

Ang also said that he would like to appeal to the government to sign the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) (2006).

“The government did sign and did rectify the main Convention (CRPD) but has not yet signed the Optional Protocol which is important so that there is international monitoring procedure on implementation of provisions of the main Convention on rights of the disabled, in Malaysia and by the government, etc. This should be done without any further delay,” he added.

Additionally, he said the Malaysian government can take the lead in implementing building by-Laws and providing facilities for the disabled in government and public buildings.

He said most of the older public buildings have not been modified or renovated to provide facilities such as ramps, lifts, escalators, accessible public toilets, for use of the disabled.

“This is important so that persons with disabilities can use and enjoy all the facilities or participate in activities in government and public buildings like other people,” he said.

He also suggested the local authorities consider providing vehicles for the purpose of ferrying disabled people to clinics, hospitals and work places, adding that many advanced countries provide free transportation for disabled citizens.

Ang who is also the president of Sarawak Cheshire Home said while the Home continued to receive support from many parties, he expressed worry that dark clouds may follow in the future.

“I must caution the Sarawak Cheshire Home that we must not take things for granted that the lifestyle at this Home will forever be what we see today, just because we still have good support. But take note, that the existing supporters may not be able continue to do it one day if the almost crippled economy has let them down.

“When donations do fall, running costs can create a rapidly mounting unsustainable debt very quickly. Without the cushioning effect of adequate reserves, charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can very quickly lose their ability to provide a reasonable level of service to those they serve and incur debts that will be difficult, if not impossible, to repay.

“Conservative management will build up healthy reserves to meet any reasonable contingency, so that the level of service provided will be maintained through fluctuations in the economy. This has been, and still is the policy of the Sarawak Cheshire Home since its inception.

“In this regard, I wish to express my sincere thanks to my executive committee and the staff for their understanding and cooperation in implementing this policy I advocated such as stringent management of funds, including our reserves,” he elaborated. – DayakDaily