By Nur Ashikin Effendi and Norsyaza Hanis Rushdan
GOMBAK, 13 April 2021: Educating the public about how Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) could be inclusive to people with disabilities (PWD) has become one of the main objectives for this interesting webinar held on Monday (12 April).
Disability Right Researcher from Faculty of Law, University Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Dr. Ikmal Hisham Md Tah, who embarked in Disability Law in 2011, had various experiences in talking about certain Public Law.
He shared, “In Malaysia, we are lacking in experts with disability rights, hence we need more of these people to spread the knowledge.” This has become one of the factors for Dr. Ikmal to pursue this area as he knew it has the potential to be explored.
Additionally, even though the 16th SDG did not specifically mention people with disabilities, however, it is inclusive of three main aspects as explained by Dr. Ikmal, which are to promote a peaceful and inclusive society, to ensure access to justice for all categories of people with disabilities, and to ensure accountable institution in managing affairs related to these people.
“Malaysia had done a lot (in protecting disability people) such as the establishment of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), enacted domestic legislation and the National Action Plan,” said Dr. Ikmal.
PWD Act 2008 in Malaysia was the first act that recognised people with disabilities in our legal system. As Dr. Ikmal pointed out, this act had prevented the issue of discrimination or stigmatisation by promoting and protecting disabled people in Malaysia.
“Discrimination, stigmatisation, somehow are being normalised and we need to ensure the right can, at least, address this issue and we need to create more awareness about it,” he said.
At the same time, Dr. Ikmal was asked how he helped to revise the PWD Act 2008 and what more need to be done.
He said: “Law is not perfect. Law is not something that you cannot amend. Of course after 12 years it is time for us to amend the PWD Act 2008, especially to ensure they address the current concern.”
He further said the government needs to look again at the act that denied the right of the disabled people to get access to justice. Certain things need to be addressed such as including the right to learning disabilities in terms of education since it was something that had been lacking to address in the current act.
He hoped that the government and the relevant authorities would take into consideration the possibility to amend this act.
Dr. Ikmal shared that there were differences between PWD Act 2008 and the United Kingdom Act PWD. Due to the culture of human rights a developed nation like the United Kingdom was different from Malaysia. In the United Kingdom, they have had Disability Discrimination Act since 1995 and this act had been replaced with the Equality Act 2010.
Moreover, this act was largely protecting not only the disabled people but also those who suffered under religion, age and gender, direct and indirect discrimination towards disabled people.
Dr. Ikmal mentioned that addressing the rights of PWD was important to Malaysia’s development. “We need to include them in all government plans. For example, in the next 12th Malaysia Plan, it is very crucial to have the agenda to include disability as part of the way to improve and to ensure that they are not being neglected within their agenda,” he said.
He suggested that we need to ensure a proper plan be made for them to feel included, such as preparing a disabled-friendly public place or transportation, as well as including them as the representative of disabled persons in any meeting that is related to decision-making especially at the local council level.
Dr. Ikmal suggested training more advocates, activists and professionals in dealing with the issues related to disability since this issue was considered multi-focus as it involved every single aspect of life.
Organised by Professional Speech Communication class (COMM 3090), the webinar was held for almost an hour.***
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