It was a mind-boggling prank that only reflected the selfishness and heinous minds of the doers.
Two video clips recently went viral, showing how certain individuals mocked and insulted a segment of our society, that is, persons with disabilities, who otherwise deserve our collective compassion and support.
Two men were seen bragging about gaining a parking bay meant for the disabled, while in another clip, two women pretended to be disabled to get into a toilet for the group at a petrol station.
They have no good reason to be smug about their downright wicked misconduct. A feeling of triumph is obscenely misplaced.
These incidents occur despite much effort made by authorities, civil society groups and concerned Malaysians over the years to raise awareness of the importance of ensuring the disabled have the required facilities for their ease of living.
As a result, many places such as government buildings and shopping centres have provided facilities aimed at giving easier access to people of varying disabilities.
The passing of the Persons with Disabilities Act in 2008 might have provided much-needed impetus for the increased provision of such facilities. Amenities such as ramps, special toilets, railings and hand-railings, and parking spots for the disabled have been put in place.
Having more of such facilities is commendable, but more needs to be done. The public must be sensitive to the needs and basic rights of the disabled to improve the quality of life of the latter.
This explains why the wrongdoers above are not alone. There are still others in our midst who are equally irresponsible in misusing the facilities meant for the disabled.
Parking bays for the disabled are favourite targets of these miscreants, especially in crowded places. The culprits would simply park their vehicles, which include luxury makes, in these spots as if it was their inalienable right to do so. It is the kind of bigoted mindset that perceives the differently abled as lesser beings or defective and, therefore, deserving of treatment befitting them.
At times, these wrongdoers even employ violence in their insistence on what they consider their right.
For example, in October 2019, a Nepali security guard was reported to have been brutally assaulted with a golf club by a man whose car was clamped in a spot for the disabled.
These physical facilities aside, there should also be public recognition of the fact that the disabled have as much right as the able-bodied to gain access to areas in life that are intellectually stimulating as well as materially gainful.
As stakeholders of society, they deserve access to general education, employment with favourable working conditions, information and communications technology, recreational and sports activities, and healthcare services.
Obstacles should not be placed in their path so that they can enrich their lives in various ways. To do otherwise would be akin to driving your car into their allocated parking bays.
Perhaps the force of law is needed to ensure that they are not subjected to unkind treatment by so-called able-bodied people.
If diversity in our society requires an inclusive outlook, then surely the disabled should be embraced and assisted as well. – The Malaysian Insight