The Disability Community (OKU) is following the ongoing electoral and political process of the 15th General Election very closely. Persons with disabilities (15% of the population) and their care and professional partners make up over 30% of the Malaysian electorate.
We seek out and support political parties that strive to fully include OKU in Malaysian society. We had previously made our concerns and struggles clear.
Our urgent needs are:
- Realize the rights of persons with disabilities by amending the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 to give it the scope and powers to enforce these rights;
- Improve inclusion in employment to provide better and wider employment opportunities;
- Improve inclusive education to integrate, with reasonable accommodation, all children and young people.
We had recommended that politicians and political parties, especially those hoping to be elected as deputies or members of the National Assembly, take into account the opinions of members of the electorate who are OKU or associated with OKU.
We are now able to assess the prospects of the three major political coalitions with the largest number of candidates by assessing their policy manifestos and action plans for disability inclusion. The table below summarizes their plans.
Of the three, Pakatan Harapan has the most comprehensive set of plans, followed by Perikatan Nasional; both of which have a section dedicated to OKU. The plans for the Barisan Nasional manifesto are minimal and appear almost like an afterthought.
None of the three coalitions mentions the need to amend the Persons with Disabilities Act. Without amendments to give it the scope and powers necessary to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, all plans and actions of any future government cannot be challenged or questioned.
Pakatan Harapan’s plan to have a “ministry or department for people with disabilities with a commissioner for people with disabilities” is commendable.
Accessibility for OKU is a critical issue and Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional mention it, although Pakatan Harapan goes further by including transportation and the need for universal design standards.
Both Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional have plans to improve OKU’s education and employment situation. However, neither party mentions the importance of integrating OKU into education from kindergarten to university with reasonable accommodations for this to happen.
|Content of the manifesto||Barisan National (BN) PADU||Pakatan Harapan (PH) Tawaran Harapan||Perikatan National (PN) Malaysia Gemilang|
|Language used enabling or appropriate||✔Used OKU||✔Used Orang Kurang Upaya (OKU) and People with Disabilities (PWD)||X Refers to OKU as Orang Kelainan Upaya (persons with disabilities) which is not the term used in the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008; the correct term used in the law is Orang Kurang Upaya.|
|Have plans for people with disabilities (mentioned in manifesto)||✔||✔||✔|
|A clear section dedicated and centered on “people with disabilities”||XSome plans mentioned, but not clearly focused on people with disabilities||✔Has a clear section on people with disabilities and plans for them. people with disabilities mentioned in the additional sections.||✔Contains a clear section on people with disabilities and plans for them, with people with disabilities mentioned in an additional section.|
|Recognition of the “disabled” as an important part of the Malaysian public||X||✔Recognition that persons with disabilities make up 15% of the Malaysian population and that barriers need to be removed to enable full participation in OKU.||X
Noted that OKU’s needs will also be a priority.
Major/key plans outlined for people with disabilities
|Amend the Disability Act 2008 to give it the scope and powers to uphold the rights of people with disabilities||X||X||X|
|A ministry or department for people with disabilities||X||✔Establish a Disability Department/Agency to deal with all areas and prioritize people with disabilities – infrastructure, education, coordination of various ministries, welfare/needs, future challenges and quality of life.||XMentions: “increase the involvement of people with disabilities in government policy” but no details.|
|Disability Commissioner||X||✔Appointment of a Disability Commissioner in SUHAKAM to help defend the rights of OKU and fight against all forms of discrimination.||X|
|Accessibility for people with disabilities||X||✔Increase the number of disability-friendly facilities and public transport, while ensuring that development projects meet universal design standards.||✔Mandate disability-friendly facilities in all public and private buildings and premises.|
|Education and vocational training for people with disabilities||X||✔Special allowance for the improvement of education for people with disabilities, including the adaptation of the education system and infrastructure to people with disabilities.
Zero discharge policy for technical and vocational education and training.
|✔Increase the capacity and expertise of 3PK Centers (Special Education Service Centers) for all children nationwide, including children with autism.
Allocate RM50 million per year to develop infrastructure and learning for students with special needs.
Provide free assistive tools to Pengajian Tinggi Institute students with disabilities from low-income families.
Improve Community Rehabilitation Centers (PDK) and vocational training.
|Employment and economic opportunities for people with disabilities||X||✔
Eliminate discrimination in employment based on physical or mental ability.
Quota for persons with disabilities belonging to minority groups for vocational training.
Quota for persons with disabilities from minority groups in grants for small businesses, home industries.
|✔Intensify the training program (Latihan OKU Berdaya Program) for school leavers with disabilities to enter the labor market.
Special Enterprise Fund of RM20 million to assist disabled entrepreneurs.
Training and career programs for disabled athletes to prepare for retirement.
|Other useful measures that could benefit people with disabilities and families|
|Increase public health spending to 5% of GDP in 5 years||✔||✔||✔|
|Disaster resilience – support for people with disabilities||X||✔||X|
|Support for PSH NGOs||✔Funding of RM105 million for NGOs operating care centers for the elderly and disabled for five years.||X||X|
|The elderly||✔Pass a law on care for the elderly||✔Pass a law on the elderly
Prepare for an aging nation through the professionalization of the carer sector, the provision of carer allowances and assistance, a mobile care service and one-stop care centres.
|✔Agenda Care-Economy to improve the care system for the elderly.
Create a service for seniors
|Others||RM10 million per year for OKU using e-mail services (vouchers).
Provision of a national childcare service for all children under the age of 6.
Build more specialty hospitals for health disciplines such as mental health
|Provide housing that meets universal design standards
Address the social determinants of health such as poverty and equal access to health care for all.
Accelerate the amendment of article 309 of the Penal Code to decriminalize suicide attempts.
|Expand community nursing services for children with special needs at home
Agenda Care-Economy – a program to improve the care system for people with disabilities.
Improve community rehabilitation centers (PDKs) and strengthen rehabilitation programs, including medical treatment and vocational training.
Road to Paralympics initiative to discover the talents of people with disabilities.
This assessment shows that some political parties have made an effort to better recognize the needs of the OKU community. This is hopeful and will be taken into consideration by the OKU community electorate in the upcoming 15th general election.
Our hopes for an inclusive Malaysia for people with disabilities will not be extinguished with the elections. We will monitor the implementation of the proposed action plans and advocate for missing concerns to be addressed.
We see GE15 as a major intersection to improve inclusion as a universal human right for all Malaysians. We call on all Malaysians to “make the law real” for the OKU community. We invite you to support #OKURRightsMatter.
The OKURightsMatter team includes Dr. Amar-Singh HSS, Yuenwah San, Lai-Thin Ng, Anit Randhawa, Yoon-Loong Wong and Alvin Teoh.
- This is the personal opinion of the author or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of code blue.