FMT LETTER: From Disabled Driver, PJ, via e-mail
I have been a disabled driver for the past 26 years and I am happy to note that compared to when I started driving, there are now lots of parking facilities for drivers such as myself. In most parking areas in shopping centres and public buildings, we can find several parking lots near the entrances or lifts specifically reserved for the disabled (or OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya). The parking lots are usually painted blue, are slightly wider to cater for wheelchairs and have the universal symbol for disabled,é , painted on them.
However, in these 26 years, one thing has not changed, that is, the selfish attitude of able-bodied drivers who insist on parking in disabled lots. I can recall the numerous run-ins I have had with these callous people. When I approached them, I have had responses ranging from “You’ve already got your parking, why you bising (make noise) some more” to “Hey, I have a right to park here because I am a season parker”.
Some establishments have even gone to the extent of setting up chains and signboards to stop people from parking in the disabled lots. This causes inconvenience to the disabled if he or she is driving alone as we have to alight from the vehicle to move the chain or signboard. I have even seen able bodied people move the signboard and park in the disabled parking lot! Ironically, we need to stand up for disabled rights; perhaps we should also camp out in a public landmark demanding that the able-bodied not take up our parking lots!
If education is the key to enlightenment, perhaps the JPJ should add a section in the driving lessons to teach learner drivers that it is wrong to park in a disabled parking lot. They should add a question into the written driving test as follows:
When you see a parking lot with the symbol épainted on it, and a warning sign saying offenders will be clamped with an unclamping fee charged, you should:
a) park in that disabled parking lot straight away, even though you are able bodied, since all nearby parking lots are taken.
b) park in that disabled parking lot since you have a passenger who is wheel-chair bound.
c) park in that disabled parking only if you are a physically disabled person as certified by the Welfare Department.
d) park in that disabled parking lot since you have season parking and have the right to park anywhere
Obviously, the correct answer is c. Answer b. might raise some contention, but here’s my point: If you have a wheelchair bound person on board and you yourself are able-bodied, what’s to stop you from dropping the passenger off at the entrance and parking the car at a regular parking lot? After all, it will not be a problem for you to walk.
All the disabled are asking for is a break and for people to read the signs. Why can’t our society understand a simple sign, which is universal and not even written in any language? The situation could not be more baffling and frustrating.
It’s is always true that people don’t care if the problem does not affect them. But, let me share this with you; not everyone is born disabled. A majority of people become physically disabled due to accidents or illness.
If by some unfortunate circumstances, you were to face this life challenge, you would not want to be the person who has recovered enough from disability and started driving again with the help of driving aids, only to find your rightful parking lot taken up.