Just meet 5 of us, disabled activist says to ministers

Anthony Thanasayan.

PETALING JAYA: An activist for the disabled, Anthony Thanasayan, has expressed disappointment with a deputy minister’s posting featuring a meeting with former television personality Ras Adiba Radzi.

He said Ras Adiba did not represent all the disabled people in Malaysia.

“We are not asking the deputy minister or minister to meet all of the half a million disabled people in the country. Just meet five of us, that’s enough,” he said in response to the posting by deputy minister Hannah Yeoh.

Yeoh’s posting had come after a group led by Thanasayan had attempted to deliver a memorandum to the women, family and community development ministry.

“We went all the way to Putrajaya, but they could not even invite us into the lobby area,” he told FMT.

He said the group had tried for a year to meet the minister, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, or her deputy.

“It broke our hearts when we arrived. The lady who received the memorandum from us didn’t even want to look at us or identify herself. Instead, it was the police who called us the night before to ask us if we needed assistance,” he said.

Yeoh later posted about a meeting with Ras, “shared in response to allegations by OKU (disabled people) activists saying that we neglected the disabled community. This is part of some meetings conducted since assigned to handle this portfolio”.

Thanasayan responded by asking how the ministry could help solve the problems of the disabled community if the ministry was not even willing to meet with disabled persons face-to-face.

He also complained of a lack of response on Twitter. “At least reply and say thank you. Even a ‘TQ’ is good enough for us. We’re not asking for much. We just want to meet the minister and tell her about our problems.”

Thanasayan said the previous Barisan Nasional government had learnt over time how to care for the disabled communities.

“We thought the Pakatan Harapan government would carry on but it looks like we have to start all over again,” he said. “Many of us are not young any more, some face serious illnesses. We don’t have time to wait around for help to come to us.”

He said the government should review the amount paid in allowances to the handicapped, bedridden and unemployed.

“We proposed RM500 per month for medicines and daily expenses but it was not included in the last budget announcement. I sent a personal note to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng but was ignored,” he said.

Thanasayan challenged Wan Azizah and Yeoh to use a wheelchair at work for three days. “Only then you will understand what we are going through,” he said.

He also urged the government to strengthen the local councils “because they are the ones in charge of building facilities for the disabled people”.

His group planned to meet Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin. “She seems more approachable to see how we can work with the local councils to aid the disabled communities,” he said.