Leave no persons with disabilities behind

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One hundred and thirteen civil society groups are calling for an urgent review of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 (gazetted on 24 January 2008 and entered into force on 7 July 2008).

The Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 (PwD Act) fails to protect and uphold the rights of persons with disabilities.

The act also fails to be fully in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), to which Malaysia has been a state party for more than 11 years.

Malaysia has not once submitted its country report (to the United Nations), since it ratified the CRPD on 19 July 2010.

Malaysia has yet to withdraw its reservations to Article 15 (freedom of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and Article 18 (liberty of movement and nationality) of the CRPD.

Malaysia has also not ratified the Optional Protocol to the CRPD.

The Harapan OKU Law Reform Group, an advocacy group, calls for urgent action to firstly amend the Federal Constitution under Article 8(2), to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of disability. That amendment will give legal effect to stop the isolation and segregation of persons with disabilities from mainstream society.

As it stands, the PwD Act is just an administrative legislation, a “toothless tiger”. It has no redress and enforcement provisions.

The act needs to be amended in at least six areas, for it to be harmonised with the CRPD:

  1. Broaden the definition of disability to more than seven categories
  2. Define ‘discrimination’ and ‘harassment’
  3. Provide remedies available in the event of discrimination and harassment
  4. Repeal Sections 41 and 42 of the PwD Act that protect the government and public servants, as well as their representatives, from being sued when they fail to fulfil their legal duties and obligations towards persons with disabilities
  5. Establish an independent commission, accountable to Parliament, to monitor the implementation of the PwD Act and systematically advance the mainstreaming of disability inclusion in all ministries and sectors and at all levels of government
  6. Establish a tribunal to handle cases involving infringement of disability rights. The advantages of a tribunal for resolving cases amenable to its resolution, as distinct from pursuing a formal court process involving expenses and lawyers, include:
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    • easier access (more disability-friendly) for the aggrieved party
    • lower cost
    • quicker

The above amendments in these six areas were presented at a government town hall meeting on 26 June 2019, with a suggestion that the government set up a taskforce to address those issues. We thank Hannah Yeoh for agreeing to look into this suggestion.

The Harapan OKU Law Reform Group appreciates the support of Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, for the rights of persons with disabilities.

In this regard, Harapan OKU Law Reform Group urges Wan Azizah to set up, without further delay, a special taskforce to work on the review of the PwD Act, 2008 – and, to do this in close collaboration with Harapan OKU and other civil society stakeholder groups committed to protecting and upholding the rights of persons with disabilities.

The special taskforce must work in close consultation with persons with disabilities, representing the voices of diverse disability groups, including on rights and access issues that they have been raising for the past 30 years and more. The Harapan OKU Law Reform Group stands ready to work closely with the special taskforce.

We call on the government of the day to ensure that marginalised and vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities, are not left out, and rise to the clarion call of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda: “leave no one behind!”

We welcome the 19 September press release of the Malaysian Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor that acknowledged the need for amendment of the PwD Act, and we look forward to collaborating with the Bar Council.

Together, let us make it right for Malaysia!

Harapan OKU Law Reform Group

Endorsed by the following civil society groups (as of 29 September 2019):

  1. Advocacy Association of Early Childhood Educators Bintulu
  2. Akademi Remaja Islam Autisme (Arisma)
  3. Aliran
  4. Asia Community Service
  5. Association of the Network for the Needs of Children with Disability, Perak
  6. Association of Women Lawyers
  7. Autism Initiatives Malaysia
  8. Bentarakata, Sabah
  9. Bethany Home, Teluk Intan, Perak
  10. Bikar Alam, Sabah
  11. Bliss Kids Educare, Selangor
  12. Bold – Association for Children with Special Needs, Penang
  13. Bridging Rainbow Tawau
  14. Bukit Harapan, Kota Kinabalu
  15. Challenges Foundation
  16. Childline Foundation
  17. Dual Blessing Berhad
  18. Dyslexia Association of Sarawak
  19. Harvest Centre Borneo
  20. Kelab Kesihatan dan Kecergasan Orang Kurang Upaya Sabah (Kikos)
  21. Kuching Spinal Injuries Association (Kusia)
  22. Majlis Perunding Penjajah dan Perniaga Kecil Negeri Sabah (M3PN)
  23. Malaysia High Functioning Autism Association (MAHFAA)
  24. Malaysia Independent Living Association for Disabled (Milad)
  25. Malaysia Parents with Disabilities Association
  26. Malaysian Advocates for Cerebral Palsy (MyCP)
  27. Malaysian Association of Speech-Language and Hearing (Mash)
  28. Malaysian Association for the Blind
  29. Malaysian Care
  30. Malaysian Confederation of the Disabled (MCD)
  31. Malaysian Council for Rehabilitation (MCR)
  32. Malaysian Rare Disorders Society (MRDS)
  33. MRCS Sunflower Centre, Miri, Sarawak
  34. National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom)
  35. National Council for the Blind, Malaysia (NCBM)
  36. National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC)
  37. New Horizons Society, Perak
  38. Nur Kidz Johor Bahru
  39. Ohana Association Ipoh, Perak
  40. OKU Sentral
  41. Parents’ Resource for Autism (PR4A)
  42. Penang Down Syndrome Association
  43. Persatuan Autisme Muslim Malaysia Persatuan Autisme Muslim Selangor
  44. Persatuan Bagi Kebajikan Kanak-Kanak Terencat Akal, Sarawak
  45. Persatuan Bagi Rakyat Prihatin Dan Ibu-Bapa Kanak-Kanak Cacat, Bintulu
  46. (Perpikat Bintulu)
  47. Persatuan Bantuan Pendidikan Kanak Kanak Khas, Sungai Petani, Kedah (Pekaka)
  48. Persatuan Catur Orang Kurang Upaya Negeri Kelantan
  49. Persatuan C.H.I.L.D. Sabah
  50. Persatuan Damai Orang Kurang Upaya Malaysia
  51. Persatuan Ibu Bapa Anak Istimewa Pahang (Pianis)
  52. Persatuan Ibu-Bapa Dan Penjaga Anak-Anak Pekak Kuala Lumpur (Pesiba)
  53. Persatuan Ibu Bapa Kanak-Kanak Istimewa Miri
  54. Persatuan Kanak-Kanak Autistik Islam Johor Bahru (PKAIJB)
  55. Persatuan Kanak-Kanak Cerebral Palsy (Spastik) Pulau Pinang (The Cerebral Palsy (Spastic) Association of Penang)
  56. Persatuan Kanak-Kanak Istimewa Hulu Langat, Selangor
  57. Persatuan Kanak-Kanak Istimewa Kajang Selangor (PKIK)
  58. Persatuan Kanner Melaka
  59. Persatuan Kelainan Upaya Pembelajaran (Association of Learning Disabilities (Gold)), Daerah Petaling, Selangor
  60. Persatuan Mobiliti Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur
  61. Persatuan Orang Kurang Upaya Fizikal Miri (POKUFM)
  62. Persatuan Orang-orang Cacat AnggotaMalaysia (Pocam) (Society of the Orthopaedically Handicapped Malaysia)
  63. Persatuan Orang Pekak Islam Malaysia (Malaysian Deaf Muslim Association)
  64. Persatuan Orang Pekak Pulau Pinang (Penang Deaf Association)
  65. Persatuan Pemulihan Sultan Azlan Shah, Perak
  66. Persatuan Pendidikan Khas Kebangsaan (National Association of Special Education, Malaysia)
  67. Persatuan Pesara Kerajaan Sabah (PPKS) (Sabah Government Pensioners Association)
  68. Persatuan Rumah Dan Perkhidmatan Cheshire Sabah (Sabah Cheshire Home and Services)
  69. Persatuan Sindrom Down Kota Kinabalu (PSDKK)
  70. Persatuan Sokongan Ibubapa Remaja Istimewa Perlis (PSRIP)
  71. Persekutuan Orang Pekak Malaysia (Malaysian Federation of the Deaf (MFD))
  72. Pertubuhan Bagi Orang-Orang Buta Sabah (Sabah Society for the Blind)
  73. Pertubuhan Bagi Orang-Orang Pekak Sabah (Sabah Society for the Deaf)
  74. Pertubuhan Guru, Ibu Bapa Dan Anak Berkeperluan Khas Negeri Sembilan (PGIBABKNS)
  75. Pertubuhan Kebajikan Orang Buta, Pulau Pinang
  76. Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Orang Kerdil Malaysia (Little People National Organization of Malaysia)
  77. Pertubuhan Keluarga Orang-Orang Bermasalah Pembelajaran (PERKOBP)
  78. Pertubuhan Orang Cacat Cina Malaysia (POCCM)
  79. Pertubuhan Orang Cacat Penglihatan Malaysia (Society of the Blind in Malaysia (SBM))
  80. Pertubuhan Orang Cacat Sarawak (POCS)
  81. Pertubuhan Pembangunan Orang Buta Malaysia
  82. Pertubuhan Perkhidmatan Intervensi Awal (PPIA Batu Pahat)
  83. Pertubuhan Sokongan Ibubapa Kanak-Kanak Autisme
  84. Pusat Jagaan Kanak-kanak Ceria Murni (Kepong, Kuala Lumpur)
  85. Pusat Jagaan Matahari, Keningau, Sabah
  86. Sabah Autism Society
  87. Sarawak Cheshire Home
  88. Sarawak Deaf Sports Association
  89. Sarawak Deaf Youth Association
  90. Sarawak Mental Health Association
  91. Sarawak Society for Parents of Children with Special Needs (Pibakat)
  92. Sarawak Society for the Blind
  93. Selangor Cheshire Home
  94. Sibu Autistic Association
  95. Sibu Methodist Care Centre Siloam House, Karak, Pahang
  96. Spark Child Centre (Signature Child Rehabilitation Centre, Kota Damansara, Kuala
  97. Lumpur)
  98. Spastic Children’s Association of Selangor and Federal Territory
  99. Special Olympics Penang
  100. St Nicholas’ Home for the Blind
  101. Streams of Joy, Penang
  102. Support for Parents, Infants and Children through Early Services Society (Spices, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor)
  103. The Seed Childcare Centre, Johore
  104. The Therapy Tree, Kota Kinabalu
  105. Toy Libraries Malaysia
  106. United Voice
  107. Voice of the Children
  108. WeCareJourney
  109. Wings Melaka
  110. Wishesland, Sarawak
  111. Women’s Aid Organisation
  112. Yayasan Orang Buta Malaysia (Malaysian Foundation for the Blind)
  113. Yayasan Sirajan Munira
  • Christine Lee
  • Dr Naziaty Mohd Yaacob
  • Anit Kaur Randhawa
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Kevin Dhillon

Does that include those demanding for dignity?