NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS (NGOs) THAT REPRESENT THE DISABLED AND THE ELDERLY ARE FUMING.
THEY ARE CRYING FOUL OVER A SPECIAL FUND THAT WAS MEANT ORIGINALLY FOR HANDICAPPED ACCESS AT THE COMMUNITY FOREST HERE.
HOWEVER, THAT FUND AMOUNTING TO RM30,000 IS NOW BEING USED FOR A NON DISABLED CAUSE.
THE GROUPS ARE NOW DEMANDING THAT EVERY SEN OF THAT MONEY BE RETURNED SO THAT PLANS TO MAKE THE KOTA DAMANSARA COMMUNITY FOREST RESERVE (KDCFR) DISABLED-FRIENDLY CAN GO AHEAD.
"The disabled and elderly community who had been looking forward to explore the forest have not only been dealt with a great blow but also feel cheated by those responsible for the reallocation decision and it's only fair that they give the money back," said Anthony SB Thanasayan from MADD or Malaysians Against the Discrimination of the Disabled - a coalition of half a dozen NGOs for people with disabilities.
He said this during a press conference that was held at KDCFR this afternoon.
It was attended by Kota Damansara state assemblyman YB Dr Nasir Hashim and conservationist and leader of the KDCFR Jeffrey Phang.
The disability groups that were present included the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association or PETPOSITIVE and the Independent Living and Training Centre (ILTC), a self-help NGO run by people with disabilities.
"The decision to divert the funds was most arbitrary to stay the least and far from the spirit of dialogue and consultation with the disabled community," pointed out Thanasayan who is also councillor for Petaling Jaya's Zone 13 area.
"The funding agency GEF-SGP's (Global Environment Facility - Small Grants Programme) project leader Justine Vaz confirmed the scrapping of the disabled trail, claiming that a 'better area' was in the pipeline but it is extremely arrogant and presumptuous to do things for the disabled without consulting with them first," he said to PET+BLOGSPOT after the press conference.PET+BLOGSPOT is the ONLINE BLOG of the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association or Petpositive. Our stories are CURRENT, ACCURATE and RELIABLE. We offer both local and foreign news on animals, disability and the elderly. PET+BLOGSPOT was first established in October 2007. Our hits since then are now 100,000 and ever increasing! PET+BLOGSPOT is updated daily. Kindly note that views expressed in this PET+BLOGSPOT are not necessarily those of PETPOSITIVE. You may also visit our Webpage by browsing: www.petpositive.com.my You can also find us in Facebook under PETPOSITIVE EMPOWERMENT. Please sign up as a FOLLOWER of this Blog if you haven't done so already in order to show us your kind support for our work. Thank you!
"Their action is not only discriminatory against people with special needs but also shows how totally ignorant they are about people with disabilities.
"Their workshop is a joke and a farce," he said referring to Monday's final stakeholders meeting the agency is coordinating with the Selangor Forestry Department.
|Dr Nasir (in black) chatting with protesters|
"What they are doing is going against everything that the PJ City Council (MBPJ) is doing to try and create a barrier-free environment with universal designs."
Thanasayan said that he had met Phang on a couple of occasions early this year to check out the park as well as to plan out the disabled-friendly pavements which MBPJ had expressed its interest to support.
Thanasayan who was invited to the workshop said he is boycotting Monday's workshop, fearing it to be a trap to get his indirect support for the exclusion of the disabled-friendly facilities.
"Even though a detailed list of disabled-friendly points was made available by me, no one had called or wanted to discuss the matter with me at any time," said Thanasayan.
"The KDCFR is excellent for the blind who though they can't see, are fully able to appreciate the rich sounds of the forest and the smells," pointed out Petpositive blind member Yam Tong Woo who took a stroll in the area with his wife.
"People should stop seeing the issue as a charity one but rather from a justice point of view - access to KDCFR is our human right," said tetraplegic Francis Siva, president of ILTC.
He was accompanied by his wife - also in wheelchair - Gurdip Kaur, a former local councillor for the Selayang municipality (MPS).
On his part Dr Nasir said he was upset over the non inclusion of the disabled facilities.
"We should stop segregating people and do everything we can to integrate with everyone," he said, adding that the disabled and the elderly should be given the same rights and privileges as anyone else.
Those who gathered at the press conference said that they are prepared to take up the matter to higher officials including the state's Chief Minister if the matter was not resolved.
See earlier story HERE
(Note: Pictures courtesy of ILTC)