PETALING JAYA: The government allegedly overlooked people with physical disabilities when giving assistance to the needy after it imposed the movement control order (MCO) last March.
“The disabled community was left out and not supported,” former Paralympic weightlifter Law King Kiew told FMT.
She said life during the lockdown was especially difficult for those needing personal care assistance.
Speaking of her friends with neck injuries and living on their own, she said they were left to fend for themselves for months. “Life was hell to them. No volunteer would go to bathe or clean them.”
Law, whose spinal cord is impaired, said she ran out of decent food in the second week of the lockdown and depended only on instant noodles.
She said she was left feeling “very hopeless and depressed” and worrying that other disabled people might be too weak to survive.
Moses Choo, the executive director of the National Council for the Blind (NCB), said the government had often overlooked the challenges faced by disabled people.
Many of the estimated 3,000 blind masseurs in the country could not get the benefits doled out by Putrajaya during the MCO.
“One of the complications is that many masseurs work on commission and don’t receive Socso, which was where the government support during the MCO was coming from,” Choo said.
“When the benefits started going to other Malaysians, they didn’t get any.”
To help them, Choo worked with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to develop SOPs to allow massage centres to reopen safely so that they could return to work.
“We had to do something, and do something fast,” he said.
But he acknowledged the generosity of Malaysians, saying many donated “resources like money, food vouchers and meals”, which came on top of the RM250,000 pledged by NCB to its member organisations.
Law thanked the NGOs that “came to the rescue”.
According to the Social Welfare Department, the number of Malaysians registered as disabled in 2017 was 453,258.
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