Home Civil Society Voices Grab driver assault: Access to justice – a fundamental human right

Grab driver assault: Access to justice – a fundamental human right

Treat people with disabilities with respect and compassion

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Rangkaian Solidariti Demokratik Pesakit Mental (Siuman) is perturbed by the recent news of a deaf e-hailing driver being allegedly assaulted while working near KL Sentral on 28 May.

According to his account, the 46-year-old driver was punched in the face by a “VIP bodyguard”, resulting in soft tissue injury, which was diagnosed and treated at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

He was advised to file a police report, where at one point he was eventually given two options, ie to have his phone confiscated if he decided to proceed with the case or to drop the case and be compensated. Under duress, the deaf driver opted for the second option.

Throughout his visit to the police station, he was also left unattended for hours, given no explanation as to why his phone was inspected for an extended period of time, and given no immediate access to a Malaysian Sign Language interpreter to communicate and defend himself.

Siuman would like to draw attention to the jarring gaps in accessing justice for people with disabilities as highlighted throughout this case. A disabled complainant’s right to communicate was withheld through action (confiscation of phone as assistive technology) and omission (unavailability of a competent sign language interpreter or other sufficient reasonable accommodations).

Access to justice is a fundamental human right. It enables everyone, including people with disabilities, to live a dignified life. This case (and many others) points to an urgent need to address the gaps in accessing justice for people with disabilities.

The gaps in protection mentioned in the Malaysian Deaf Advocacy and Well-being

Organisation’s (Dawn’s) statementaffects all people with disabilities. Even though Malaysia has enacted the Persons with Disabilities Act in 2008, universal access, reasonable accommodationsand discrimination protections are not mandated in any area of life.

Section 30(3) in the act states: “The Government and the private sector shall accept and facilitate the use of Malaysia Sign Language, Braille, augmentative and alternative communication, and all other accessible means, modes and formats of communication of their choice by persons with disabilities in official transactions.”

However, Section 41 of the same act precludes the government and state bodies from any remedial or court actions by stating: “No action, suit, prosecution or other proceedings shall lie or be brought, instituted or maintained in any court against the Government… …in respect of any act, neglect or default done or committed by him or it…”

This is further supported by Section 42 of the act which states: “The Public Authorities Protection Act 1948 [Act 198] shall apply to any action, suit, prosecution or proceedings against the Government… …in respect of any act, neglect or default done or committed by it…”

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This clearly highlights the jarring contradiction and reluctance of the state to uphold disability rights.

Furthermore, Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution on discrimination does not mention disability. The Federal Constitution was amended in 2001 to include gender as part of our obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

However, the same was not initiated for disability after Malaysia ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2010. We have also arguably failed to domesticate the convention and its principles in Malaysian legislation. We had no reservations on Article 13 (access to justice) of the convention, but it is apparent that we have not operationalised it.

This all needs to change and justice must be accessible to everyone throughout the whole process. The International Principles and Guidelines on Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilitiesoffers practical suggestions for the state to design and implement justice systems that provide equal access to justice for people with disabilities.

Multiple administrations have excluded people with disabilities from meaningful social participation in all areas of life, ignoring the promotion and protection of disability rights. We call upon the state and state actors to view this incident with urgency and proactivity to ensure the rights of people with disabilities in Malaysia are protected.

Pursuant to that call to action, Siuman has made several recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review process that we hope will lead to better discrimination protections and mandated reasonable accommodations via policies and laws. All our materials and references can be downloaded from here.

Our collective stands in solidarity with Dawn, our deaf peers and the deaf community.

Endorsed by:


  1. All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
  2. Architects of Diversity
  3. Association of Women Lawyers
  4. Autism Inclusiveness Direct Action Group (Aida)
  5. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim)
  6. Agora Society
  7. Aliran
  8. Association of Women with Disabilities Malaysia
  9. Boleh Space, Disabled-led Disability Rights Advocacy Movement
  10. Centre for Independent Journalism
  11. Crib Foundation (Child Rights Innovation & Betterment)
  12. Cybher Collective
  13. Demokrat UKM
  14. Empower
  15. Engage
  16. Family Frontiers
  17. Freedom Film Network
  18. Gegar
  19. Gabungan Pilihan Raya Bersih dan Adil (Bersih)
  20. Hayat
  21. Ikatan Mahasiswa Demokratik Malaysia (MDM)
  22. Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM)
  23. Jentayu
  24. Justice for Sisters
  25. Kemban Kolektif (Intersectional Human Rights Activists)
  26. KauOKTak (Community Building and Mental Health Outreach for Teenagers)
  27. Kryss Network
  28. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Youth Section (KLSCAH Youth)
  29. Klima Action Malaysia (Kamy)
  30. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Deaf Media and Technology Association
  31. Kedah Sports Deaf Association
  32. Legal Dignity
  33. Mahasiswa Keadilan Malaysia
  34. Maju Foundation
  35. Martabat PJ
  36. Malaysian Sign Language and Deaf Studies Association
  37. Muda
  38. Mental Health Association of Sarawak
  39. Monsters Among Us (MAU)
  40. National Organisation of Malaysian Sign Language Instructors
  41. Negeri Sembilan Association of the Deaf
  42. North South Initiative
  43. Our Journey (Probono legal representation for migrants in labour immigration and criminal cases)
  44. Pusat Pembangunan Rakyat (MANDIRI)
  45. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
  46. Project Stability and Accountability for Malaysia (Projek Sama)
  47. Pemuda Sosialis PSM
  48. Pertubuhan Rangkaian Pembangunan Kesinambungan Malaysia (Susden Malaysia)
  49. Parti Sosialis Malaysia
  50. Pusat Komas
  51. Persatuan Advokasi Diri Orang Bermasalah Pembelajaran Selangor & Kuala Lumpur (United Voice)
  52. Projek Wawasan Rakyat
  53. Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia (Proham)
  54. PurpleLily Social Association Kuching
  55. Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO Bahagian Damansara
  56. Persatuan Ikatan Serikat Serantau (Ikrar)
  57. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia
  58. Sisters in Islam
  59. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
  60. Sabah Deaf Muslim Association
  61. The OKU Rights Matter Project
  62. The Talisman Project
  63. Teater Untuk Semua
  64. Teoh Beng Hock Association for Democratic Advancement
  65. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
  66. Women’s Aid Organisation
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  1. Ali Amir Razali, political activist
  2. Amin Zuhaili Bin Mansor, deaf advocate
  3. Adrian Pereira, executive director, North South Initiative; people with disabilities rights advocate
  4. Albert Wong Tuong Chui, deaf advocate
  5. Beatrice Leong, autistic rights advocate; founder, Autism Inclusiveness Direct Action Group (Aida)
  6. Bathmavathi Krishnan, wheelchair user, senator representing people with disabilities (2013-2016; 2016-2019)
  7. Calysta Tay, BIM interpreter; ally of people with disabilities
  8. Christopher Yap, deaf person
  9. Dr Ikmal Hisham Md Tah, legal academic, disability law researcher
  10. Dr Vilashini Somiah, feminist anthropologist, ally of people with disabilities
  11. Dr Benjamin YH Loh, digital media researcher, ally of people with disabilities
  12. Dunstan SG Lim, Sarawak OKU Skills Development Association (Sosda), disabled disability advocate and person with lived experience
  13. Dayangku Syarizat, person with lived experience
  14. Dr Lim Chee Han, public health researcher, Manifesto Rakyat coordinator
  15. Datin PH Wong, Childline Foundation
  16. Durrah Sharifah Ahmad Azlan, mental health advocate
  17. Freida Pilus, chairman, Cempaka Education Group; president, Persatuan Siswazah Wanita Malaysia
  18. Gigi Teoh, hearing ally, a member of JupeBIM, an employer to four deaf persons
  19. Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar, disabled disability advocate, person with lived experience
  20. Ho Lee Ching, theatre maker
  21. Iskandar Khoo Kuan Yiaw, ketua, badan perhubungan, Perikatan Nasional Kawasan Kepong
  22. ‘Izz Daenie, disability justice advocate, person with lived experience
  23. Jonah Ong, deaf advocate/BIM interpreter, human rights activist
  24. Jessica Mak Wei-E, deaf advocate
  25. Joan Sim Jo Jo, social worker, advocate for the deaf, BIM Interpreter
  26. Khor Ai-Na, CEO, Asia Community Service
  27. Kelvin Lee, KLSCAH youth wing
  28. Koh Lianne, e-hailing driver
  29. Kaveinthran, native blind person, independent disabled human rights activist
  30. Kya Cahya, human rights advocate, activist
  31. Lavinia Abirami, deaf person with lived experience, Global Institute For Tomorrow
  32. Leong Wai Min, deaf person, e-hailing driver
  33. Lee Siow Hua, Declan, RRC Grab team (Rakan Representative Community for Klang Valley deaf drivers)
  34. Leben Siddarth, ketua penerangan, Muda
  35. Lee Nyook Loong, deaf person, e-hailing driver
  36. Laura Kho, mental health policy consultant, Mind Brew, ally of people with disabilities
  37. Muhammad Mustaqim Badrul Hisham, person with lived experience
  38. Muhamad Nadhir Abdul Nasir, independent disability issues consultant and researcher
  39. Murugeswaran Veerasamy, president, Damai Disabled Person Association Malaysia
  40. Meera Samanther, co-chair of Ad Hoc Committee on Persons with Disability, Bar Council
  41. Maizan Mohd Salleh, president, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Albinism Association
  42. Mohd Asraf Sharafi Mohd Azhar, ally of people with disabilities
  43. Maria Chin Abdullah, social activist
  44. Mutharasapan Lakshmanan, deaf advocate
  45. Marzuki Ong Maliki Ong, deaf advocate
  46. Mohamad Faezal Muktar, chairman, Persatuan Ikatan Serikat Serantau (Ikrar)
  47. Mimie Rahman, managing director and registered counsellor, Mindakami
  48. Ng Lai-Thin, dementia care partner; project lead, National Early Childhood Intervention Council; member, The OKU Rights Matter Project.
  49. Nurafirah Jaharuddin, masters student, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
  50. Ong Hwei Ling, deaf advocate
  51. Nasrul Noor, disability advocate
  52. Norman Goh, person with lived experience
  53. Ong Hwei Ling, Annie, president, National of Organisations Malaysia Sign Language Instructors (NowBIM); deaf advocate; co-founder, Dawn; RRC Grab (Rakan Representative Community for Klang Valley deaf drivers)
  54. Prof Wong Chin Huat, political scientist; member, Projek Sama
  55. Quah Jia Tian, president, Universiti Malaya Student Union, Faculty of Business and Economics; vice-president, YouthCare Malaysia
  56. Sofea Rozhan, founder, untuksemua.my
  57. Sharifah Tahir, dementia and care partner advocate; founder, UMI, Dementia Care and Resource Center
  58. Shawn Sharif, patient advocate and person with lived experience
  59. Srividhya Ganapathy, co-chairperson, Crib Foundation
  60. SK Lee, deaf person,
  61. Shane Capri, human and animal rights advocate, disabled disability advocate
  62. Sya A, autistic self-advocate, person with lived experience
  63. Shah Fariq Aizal Sha Ghazni, entrepreneur; director, private security firm; member, Generation Democracy (Malaysia Chapter); committee member, Asia Pacific Security Association (Malaysia Chapter)
  64. Sariah Ibrahim, deaf advocate
  65. Tay Chia Yi, speech-language therapist, Malaysian Association of Speech-language and Hearing (Mash)
  66. Thilaga Sulathireh, researcher
  67. Tashny Sukumaran, human rights advocate
  68. Wong Yan Ke, human rights defender
  69. Yana Karim, co-founder, Boleh Space; disabled disability rights advocate
  70. Yuenwah San, disability rights advocate; dementia care partner; co-founder, member, The OKU Rights Matter Project
  71. Yeong Moh Foong, senior job coach trainer
The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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