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Equal job opportunities for people with disabilities

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We need to create a disabilities commission to ensure there is no deliberate discrimination, says Ronald Benjamin.

The launching of a free jobs portal targeting the disabled community is a welcome development in forging equal opportunities for all Malaysians.

The strategic partnership between Brickfields Asia College (BAC), an education group, and the Ministry of Human Resources is a significant milestone in the nation’s history.

While there have been portals catering to people with disabilities, this is the first time that a collaboration between a private educational institution and the government has been carried out, underlining the common good that can be derived from such collaborative efforts.

This comes in line with the suggested new provisions of the Employment Act that emphasise equal opportunities for all Malaysian to pursue a career without being discriminated against. This should be complemented by identifying and categorising jobs that could be performed by people with disabilities and recruitment policies that accept the potential of the disabled community.

Employment opportunities in Malaysia today are mostly coloured by prejudices such as ethnic preferences, gender inequality and lack of appreciation of the potential and qualities of the disabled community.

Corporate social responsibility is geared more towards public relations exercises that result in polishing corporate credentials rather than creating opportunities to empower the downtrodden.

In this context, the endeavour of creating a favourable opportunity for the disabled is a positive move but it needs a mechanism or a body that will enhance its effectiveness.

We need to create a disabilities commission to ensure there is no deliberate discrimination. We could emulate Britain’s Disability Rights Commission, which was established by the Labour government in 1999. At that time, the it was Britain’s third equality commission alongside the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission.

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Hopefully, progressive policies of equal opportunities within the capabilities and potential of disabled communities – and the mechanism to support them – could be part of our industrial culture in the new Malaysia, which aims to reach developed-nation status. We need collaborative efforts between the ministry and the private sector to ensure such policies are in place to enhance human capital development in the country.

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