The case of the deaf Grab driver who was punched

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By The Malaysian Deaf Advocacy and Well-being Organisation

Are we, the deaf community, actually being heard?

The fact is, we are not. Our voices are being suppressed, and that is what is truly happening at this moment. We must unite and ensure our voices are amplified and acknowledged.

The Malaysian Deaf Advocacy and Well-being Organisation (Dawn) expressed profound disappointment upon receiving a firsthand account from a deaf Grab driver, a 46-year-old victim, regarding a hit incident at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur Sentral on 28 May.

This unfortunate event requires immediate attention and intervention, including by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, Suhakam, the police and other authorities concerned with justice for vulnerable groups.

The victim felt uneasy and was uncertain about the steps he needed to take next.

He was advised to file a police report. He proceeded to the police station in Brickfields to report the incident. The report was based on a pre-written message prepared by his friend.

He was asked to present proof of the hit on his face, after which he showed a video on his phone.

Following the report, he was instructed to undergo a medical examination.

While he was undergoing a medical examination, he received a message to return to the police station on the same day, 28 May. He was instructed to forward the video so that their superior could review it.

Upon his arrival at the police station between 17:00 and 18:00, he was escorted to the police officers’ office and left unattended for hours.

He was requested to hand over his phone to a police officer in charge. The victim received no explanation for the phone inspection or the prolonged retention of his phone and was treated as if he were a suspect.

READ MORE:  Grab driver assault: Access to justice - a fundamental human right

The victim requested the return of his phone in order to send a short text and make a video call to his wife and the friend who assisted with the pre-written message.

However, this request was declined.

On what grounds was the victim’s mobile phone retained for police investigation? His privacy should have been fully respected, as he was the victim in this case. His child had passed away three weeks prior to the incident, and he was still in mourning. This situation arising from the assault incident has profoundly affected him, making it difficult for him to cope.

The deaf victim was unable to defend himself adequately. It has been reported that the case was [allegedly] neither handled professionally nor with integrity.

A professional and competent Malaysian sign language (BIM) interpreter should have been immediately hired to enable Malaysian sign language communication that is essential for the deaf victim’s access to justice in any investigation. All communication must be transparent. The communication needs of the deaf victim must be accommodated promptly.

The incident in question is indeed alarming, not merely because the Grab driver was assaulted, but more so because his rights were not properly protected and upheld.

Regardless of whether it was a misunderstanding, as purported by the media, everyone, including the victim – whether disabled or not – must be treated equitably, with the inherent right to report incidents to the police for self-protection.

Although he possesses an OKU (person with disability) card due to his inability to hear and speak (however, he is not mute), he should not be treated as a lesser citizen.

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He was given two options: the first was to proceed with the case: this meant the case would be brought to court; the second was to drop the case and be compensated.

He was informed that if he chose the first option, his phone would be confiscated. The question remains to be answered: how is the phone (a communication means that is essential for a deaf person) related to the assault incident?

Under pressure, the deaf victim dropped the case and agreed to be compensated. However, after the negotiation, he was asked to read and sign another police report, which he never intended to file.

He subsequently received a text message requesting him to collect his identity card, which had not been released to him earlier by the police station.

Upon collecting his identity card, he was asked to sign a third police report. He could ascertain that the format was very similar but was unable to discern the difference between the second and the third report.

This incident could happen to anyone, and it has heightened the fears within the deaf community regarding their lack of protection, leaving them increasingly vulnerable. They may experience a further erosion of their right, as the laws in Malaysia do not, in practice, favour the deaf and OKU community.

This event highlights the urgent need for greater vigilance and immediate action to prevent a repetition of further incidents.

We can no longer afford to overlook these critical issues. – Dawn

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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31 May 2024 8.53pm

First of all the Deaf should not be driving. He puts lives at stake as he wont be able to.hear car horns. Ambulance sirens or customer voice calls.
Jpj should not give driving licences to the deaf.