Saturday, 13 June 2009

Ahmad Shabery Cheek has a Damned Cheek

Ahmad Shabery Cheek, do you remember his debate with Anwar Ibrahim?

According to Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek, people with a disability should not be referred to as ‘disabled’ but rather be collectively labeled ‘People with Special Ability’ he reportedly said, as that that would “best fit their description”.

He said the term ‘People with Special Ability’ does not portray a negative perspective on the person with a disability.

Many of them are not ‘disabled’ because they have special qualities that sometimes even a normal person cannot match. “For example, a paralympic athlete has such a high level of commitment, determination and competitiveness compared with a normal person,” he said.

Apart from sportsmen, they (disabled) have also contributed vastly towards the growth of a nation by being doctors, teachers, lecturers, businessmen and craftsmen, he said.

I would like to see the list of paralympic athletes, doctors, teachers, lecturers, businessmen and craftsmen from the disabled community in Malaysia, it cannot be a very long list, as most disabled people in Malaysia are living in poverty or are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

You may or not agree with him, I certainly do not.

He is just paying lip service to the disabled, garnering support and attempting to curry favour, and votes for UMNO / BN from the disabled community in the next election.

By implication, he had clearly stated that he considers the disabled to be 'abnormal people' when he said this, as quoted from the National News Agency BERNAMA report:

At the same time, there are also normal human beings who become useless to the community, ‘disabled’ because people like drug addicts, criminals, beggars and jobless do not in any way contribute to the nation.”

Before he came out with the nonsense above he had handed out contributions to 140 children from six Department of Social Welfare community centres, during a charity programme at Kompleks Penyayang, Kampung Mak Chili in Chukai near Kemaman. You can bet your bottom dollar that the donations were from tax-payers money and not from the ministers or even UMNO or BN funds.

Ahmad Shabery Cheek is, talking rubbish.

A disability is nothing to be ashamed about, it does not portray negativity at all.

The WHO defines “Disability as follows:

Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.

An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.

Thus disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.

Disability is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. "An individual may also qualify as disabled if he/she has had an impairment in the past or is seen as disabled based on a personal or group standard or norm. Such impairments may include physical, sensory, and cognitive or intellectual impairments. Mental disorders (also known as psychiatric or psychosocial disability) and various types of chronic disease may also be considered qualifying disabilities. A disability may occur during a person's lifetime or may be present from birth.

In the United Kingdom, The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

The definition

For the purposes of the Act:

  • substantial means neither minor nor trivial

  • long term means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months (there are special rules covering recurring or fluctuating conditions)

  • normal day-to-day activities include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping

  • a normal day-to-day activity must affect one of the 'capacities' listed in the Act which include mobility, manual dexterity, speech, hearing, seeing and memory

Some conditions, such as a tendency to set fires and hay fever, are specifically excluded.

People who have had a disability in the past that meets this definition are also covered by the scope of the Act. There are additional provisions relating to people with progressive conditions.

The DDA 2005 amended the definition of disability. It ensured that people with HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis are deemed to be covered by the DDA effectively from the point of diagnosis, rather than from the point when the condition has some adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

In Malaysia the disabled are condemned to live on the fringes of society, patronised, pitied, thrown the odd crumb here and petty hand-out there, they are all but ignored. Our disabled brothers and sisters are even feared by some, as they are regarded as bad luck, a 'pantang', or unclean and unworthy of respect.

Using a new expression, such as the idiotic ‘People with Special Ability’ will do nothing to help the disabled.

Anyway, how does one define ‘People with Special Ability’?

What is needed is a comprehensive Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) exactly as there is in the UK and elsewhere in the developed world, and it must be enforced 100%.

If not for the help of NGOs the disabled in Malaysia would be even worse off than they are now, as the Department of Social Welfare is not efficient in playing the role it rightly should.

Inhumanitas omni aetate molesta est.

Dum inter homines sumus, colamus humanitatem.

Dum tempus habemus, operemur bonum.

Inhumanity is harmful in every age.

As long as we are among humans, let us be humane.

While we have the time, let us do good.

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