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Malaysia - Disability
Malaysia’s Attitude to Disability
The Persons with Disability Act (PWDA) is an act that was passed in Malaysian Parliament in 2008. This act covers many areas to ensure that disabled people are able to function as well as any able-bodied person. Advocacy on behalf of disability organizations has permeated its way into the people of Malaysia and while there are still some small signs of discrimination against disabled people, this is no way indicative of the country as a whole. The acceptance and adaptions made for disabled people are widespread throughout the country and life as a disabled person in Malaysia is pleasant with many facilities.
The PWDA came about due to organizations, the government and agencies cooperation with each other on policies to be brought into place for the benefit of disabled people. This garnered a response of increased awareness by all agencies and organizations of the difficulties faced by disabled people. Malaysia is a Muslim country and there have been previously some stigmas attached to being disabled as though it was past generations within the family who had somehow caused such conditions. With the vast improvements and investment into healthcare as a whole, disability issues were raised.
Public Transport and Building Access for Disabled People
Once the PWDA was passed, improvements were set for public providers to receive instructions to undertake adaptations in a vast range of areas. These areas include improvements to public transport to enable alighting and disembarking of passenger vehicles such as buses and trains. Public buildings and major employers were given three years to make the necessary adaptations to their facilities and remove restrictions which had previously made access difficult for wheelchair users or for those with limited mobility.
As a result of the instructions to service providers, access to buildings for disabled people is of a very high standard. Newer buses are fitted with suspensions which are lowered automatically when static at a bus stop and there is ample room for wheelchair users and clearly signed designated seating for disabled people. These buses, however, are available in the major cities and older buses have to date, not yet been adapted. In more rural areas, public transport can be difficult to negotiate for disabled passengers. Taxis are the best way to get around for people with disabilities in some of the more rural areas. Just keep an eye on the price the driver charges and make sure at the time of booking you have agreed a price.
Buildings in major cities such as Penang and Kuala Lumpur have made the necessary adaptations. There are large entrances, ramps and elevators to all floors which can easily accommodate a wheelchair. Hospitals and banks are well-adapted for disabled people in major cities. To be sure of having the best disabled facilities then city life is recommended. A more rural setting may not yet have made such changes.
Groups and Advocates for Disabled People
Due to the influx of western expats, there are many organizations, groups and advocates who have formed to lobby for the rights and fight and protect against discrimination of disabled people. These are made of up both paid people and volunteers. For expat disabled people it’s worth signing up to join these groups which offer a range of services. They will help with settling you into your new country and can help with a range of forms and guide on registering with doctors and other health services.
Visit or call the following groups for further information:
Malaysia Information Network for the Disabled (MIND)
Address: Unit 3-B, Bangunan Bakti Siti Hasmah, No. 6, Cangkat Abang
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 7724 2655
Malaysian Confederation of the Disabled
931 Jalan 17/38, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
03 7956 2300 / 03 7956 9030
Malaysian Association for the Blind
Address: 94A, Jalan Padang Belia, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 2272 4726
Malaysian Federation for the Deaf
Address: 6-13A, Menara KLH, Bandar Puchong Jaya, 47100 Puchong
Tel: 03 8070 9308, and 03 8070 8930
Disability needn’t prevent any person from leading a life in Malaysia. There are also many organizations for people with acute and chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
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