StarMetro Friday December 14, 2012
MBPJ holds event to create caring society
Story and photo by VINCENT TAN
NEARLY 300 celebrants, both able and the disabled, gathered at the ground level entrance of 1Utama’s New Wing complex to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities recently.
The event was organised by the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) with the international theme “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.
Health, Plantation Workers, Poverty and Compassionate Government committee chairman Dr Xavier Jeyakumar officiated at the launch of the celebrations, together with Damansara Utama assemblyman Dr Cheah Wing Yin and acting Petaling Jaya mayor Puasa Md Taib. MBPJ councillors Anthony Thanasayan and Azri Mohamad Arish were also present.
In the opening speeches, Anthony said he was overwhelmed by the large crowd which had turned up for the celebrations.
“We are here today not to be ashamed of our disabilities. We do not have to hide, but are here to celebrate,” said Anthony who also related his experience growing up as a wheelchair-bound child in a city with a lack of disabled-friendly facilities. The councillor now heads an MBPJ committee which looks into infrastructure and facilities issues faced by disabled persons.
Dr Xavier praised MBPJ’s efforts in turning Petaling Jaya into a “barrier-free” city, with initiatives such as the free transit service for disabled persons, tactile walkways for the visually-impaired, as well as free medical treatment at MBPJ community clinics, among others.
“I have also been approached by several non-governmental organisations and agencies, where they are willing to help fund infrastructure for the disabled in the low-cost housing areas. This is a good idea, as both the state and the NGOs become jointly responsible for the area’s disabled facilities,”said Dr Xavier.
In addition, he added that he would be pushing for a joint fund financed by local authorities to push for such projects.
It was not just all speeches, as the audience was also treated to a line dance performance by members from MAB (Malaysian Association of the Blind) and a musical recital on the guitar and harmonica.
Nor Hidayah Abd Halim, 24, blind since birth, now works a telephone receptionist with the MAB. Nonetheless, she said a day such as this was good in further raising the profile of disabled persons in society.
“By and large, people respect us for what we do, but at times, it is also difficult to fight through people’s prejudice when they look down on you,” said Nor Hidayah.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been promoted by the United Nations every Dec 3 since 1998, is aimed at promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
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