Cold war over as disabled group meets Wan Azizah and Hannah Yeoh

Anthony Thanasayan and other disabled activists had a long sought-after meeting with the minister and deputy minister.

PETALING JAYA: Disabled activists expressed joy after a meeting today with Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Hannah Yeoh, the minister and deputy minister for women, family and community development.

Anthony Thanasayan, a disabled activist, said the cold war between disabled activists and the ministry was over, after months of disappointment. “This is a first step towards working closely together in the future,” he said.

Thanasayan told FMT that the disabled group was among many other organisations who had been invited for the ministry’s 2020 budget consultation meeting in Putrajaya.

“It was awkward meeting the minister and deputy minister after what had happened in the last few weeks,” he said. “But the minister has apologised to us and said that she was out of town when we went to Putrajaya. Even Hannah, without us asking, told us that she too was out of town on the very day.”

He hoped that no one would have to go through a similar experience.

Thanayasan, who is president of the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association, praised Wan Azizah and Yeoh for their attention.

“Yeoh was furiously taking down all that we said almost word for word. Frankly, I have never experienced any other session that took us so seriously. She even went on to respond to some of the points I was making which according, to Francis Siva, she didn’t do for others,” he said in an online posting.

Thanasayan said the ministry should look into providing the disabled with personal care attendants, who are trained to help improve the quality of life for disabled people.

“We were told that right now, the ministry has volunteers, but volunteers won’t work. It needs to be a paid job,” he said.

The group also put forward their request for monthly welfare financial aid of RM500.

Earlier this month, the disabled activists resorted to a meeting with Zuraida Kamaruddin, the minister for housing and local government, after failing to meet Wan Azizah and Yeoh.

Zuraida promised to set up an advisory committee, to include disabled people, at local councils.