PUTRAJAYA: A group of disabled activists was today welcomed by Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin at her office here, four days after accusing Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her deputy Hannah Yeoh of ignoring them.
Zuraida had a meeting with the activists who last week protested outside the women, family and community development ministry, claiming both Wan Azizah and Yeoh had refused to meet them to discuss their plight despite repeated requests.
“I have been in constant communication with the disabled community. We were scheduled to meet later, but I brought forward the meeting after hearing what happened last week,” Zuraida told reporters after meeting the representatives, who included vocal disabled activist Anthony Thanasayan who heads the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association.
“At today’s meeting, the disabled activists brought to my attention several issues which I will study and review,” she said.
Among issues discussed were local council representatives and housing for the disabled community.
Zuraida said Selangor had disabled representatives in local councils from 2008 to 2013.
“I will study and see how we can revive this according to the needs of each local council,” she added.
“We just need one representative who can understand and provide feedback on what the disabled communities need.”
Meanwhile, Zuraida said there could have been a “miscommunication” between the activists and Wan Azizah’s ministry.
She also offered to mediate between the activists and the ministry, as well as other ministries who could help the community such as the transport and agriculture ministries.
“They are just like us, normal human beings. They go to work, have a family just like us. We must see how we can facilitate and help them with their needs,” she said.
Anthony today repeated his demand for an apology from Wan Azizah and Yeoh.
“The deputy minister has been posting Facebook posts on her page, saying very mean things about us. All we wanted was to offer feedback about our community, we’re not criminals.
“We want to request that Hannah Yeoh (deputy minister) apologise and take those comments off their Facebook,” he said.
“Do you know that as a minister you can make people depressed just by refusing to meet them?” he asked.
Yeoh had earlier taken to Facebook to show that her ministry had been engaging with the disabled, accompanied with a picture of former television personality Ras Adiba Radzi.
But Anthony said Ras Adiba does not represent all the disabled people in Malaysia.
On May 30, Anthony said Wan Azizah and Yeoh had yet to accept their requests for a meeting.
He said the duo were “cowards” and were not fit to hold the positions.
“If they are unable to meet us today, they should have told us so, and that we can meet up at another time.
“They are telling us they don’t want to listen to us,” he told reporters outside the ministry.