Disabled community hopes for more inclusivity

03 Dec 2021 10:23pm

PETALING JAYA - In conjunction with World Disability Day 2021, Persatuan OKU Sentral (OKU Sentral) hosted a series of mini-concerts and art exhibition called "Kau & Aku" recently at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre.

The event which was held over the last three days at Damansara Performing Arts Centre featured some of the most talented stage performers and artists amongst Malaysia’s community of People with Disabilities (PWD).

OKU Sentral, in a statement, said Prime Minister Datuk Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob recognises that the PWDs are an important component to the Keluarga Malaysia vision as an estimated 15 per cent of the population in the country are from the PWD community. The community, it said, remains a significant segment of society that needs further empowerment to ensure the country grows in a sustainable and inclusive manner.

Its President Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi said the title "Kau & Aku" mirrors the inclusiveness of the Keluarga Malaysia concept and that the PWD community wants to be part of the shared vision. "The singers, dancers, musicians, and artists who are featured are specifically from our community of PWDs.

They have not let their disabilities hinder their journey to become world-class creative talents." Those who performed last night were Umar Hasfizal, Shaharil Muniros, EyelitZ, Dinie & Khai, Pro Voiz, DeafBeat, OS & Mido Dance Troupe, Wan Jamila Wan Shaiful Bahri (Artjamila), Izzati Sharin, Haziq Izmi, Maria Soo, Ong Yong Da and Tan Seng Kit among others.

Member of the band EyelitZ, Mohd Shafiq Arshad said he was grateful to participate in the event, and hopes that it will raise awareness on empowering the disabled community.

“There should be more awareness on what the disabled want and what they can do.

"Many people face barriers to inclusion in several key aspects of society but we can change that with positive attitudes. For example, if a person with a disability shows interest to pursue their passion, it should be encouraged" he said.

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Shafiq also said that people with disabilities also have the right to start a family and live happily ever after like others but it can prove to be a challenge.

“Even if we wanted to get married, parents are not confident enough that we are able to commit to a relationship. They should trust their disabled children and let them try. Give them the support they need,” he said.

In addition, he hopes that the government will improve the welfare and well-being of the disabled community.

Shafiq said while there are many incentives given to empower the disabled, equal job opportunities should be provided too.

Also present were Dewan Negara Speaker Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim, Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun, United States Ambassador to Malaysia Brian D. McFeeters, French Ambassador to Malaysia Roland Galharague and the British High Commissioner to Malaysia Charles Hay.

Earlier this week, the prime minister received backlash from the community when he announced Dec 3 as the annual Malaysia Batik Day which was to encourage the people to unite and wear Malaysian batik with pride, in line with the Keluarga Malaysia theme.

It was also chosen as a tribute to Tun Endon Mahmood Ambak, the late wife of fifth prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

On Dec 3, 2003, Endon showcased local batik designs in Europe and succeeded in bringing batik to the world stage.

Twitter user Nara Al-Shabab, who is also a disabled advocate, said celebrating Malaysia Batik Day on the same day marginalises the local disabled community even more.

She added that she understands that batik is part of the Malaysian culture but questioned why they couldn’t choose another date.

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