Monday, May 12, 2008

Thirty Malaysians with disabilities confront Parliament

In Kuala Lumpur May 9, IANS reports that 30 angry wheelchair users “stormed” the Malaysian Parliament asking for apologies from two members who they said had made disparaging remarks about people with disabilities while confronting lawmaker Karpal Singh, who is disabled.

"Members of the Malaysians Against the Discrimination of the Disabled (MADD) booed two ruling coalition members, demanded disciplinary action against them and urged that Dewan Rakyat, the country’s parliament, be made 'disabled-friendly,'” IANS reports.

A senior opposition leader, Singh, 68, has been a wheelchair user since a car accident in 2005. In a Parliament session, the two members under attack, Bung Mokhtar Radin and Ibrahim Ali, has asked Singh to stand up and show respect to the speaker.

Ali apologized to the disabled group, saying he only had problem with Karpal Singh, not disabled people generally.

“I hope you (all) do not misunderstand. There are groups that politicised the issue and took advantage of you all. Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I love very much all the disabled people,” Ali was quoted by The Sun newspaper Friday.

Ali said he had also proposed that all Malaysian people with disabilities receive a RM500 (about $15) monthly allowance.

However, when opposition member Lim Lip Eng asked if Ali would apologize to Singh, Ali said no. The visitors with disabilities then booed him.

Radin said he too was angry at Singh specifically, not disabled people.

“It was never in my mind and heart to discredit or look down on the disabled," Radin said." In my constituency, I take care of them and build houses for them, but I did not see Karpal Singh representing the disabled. I did not mean to hurt the disabled, if I am wrong, I apologise.”