By Aida Mokhtar
GOMBAK, 11 October 2023: Yang Berhormat Senator Tuan Isaiah a/l D. Jacob and his delegation, visited IIUM Gombak and had a discussion today (11 October) with the Deputy Rector (Student Development and Community Engagement), Prof. Dr. Akmal Khuzairy Abd Rahman; Head of the Disability Services Unit (DSU), Prof. Dr. Ruzita Mohd Amin; Advisor to DSU, Dato’ Yusri Anwar and the Coordinator of DSU and Chairperson of the Support Association of Parents with Special Needs Children (SUPPORT), myself, and other IIUM staff on the potential signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to allow for collaborations between the Senator’s Office and the IIUM to take place more effectively.
Prof. Dr. Ruzita presented on the achievements of DSU from the Mount Kinabalu expedition to the Flagship of OKU 4U Sejahtera and Islamic Outreach Project as one of IIUM’s major flagship projects. There was a friendly discussion that ensued involving the intentions of Yang Berhormat Senator who said that he was building bridges with universities in Malaysia and would like their support with the IIUM being the first university he approached.
Dato’ Yusri said in the meeting, “Humanising in IIUM is very strong.” He continued by saying that this is why the IIUM practices disability inclusion effectively without which the university’s students with disabilities would not be able to study well.
Yang Berhormat Senator mentioned that the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 and the Employment Act 1955 in Malaysia need amending for them to be more effective. He said that the Employment Act 1955 needs to be amended to allow for one percent of the public sector workforce to be consisting of PwDs as currently this is not stated in the law. He also mentioned that there are about 50 non-govermental organisations (NGOs) advocating persons with vision impairment but they are not uniting and making concerted efforts to help with the plight of PwDs which Yang Berhormat Senator mentioned he is trying to fix.
I mentioned the importance of ensuring that the PwD Act 2008 supports disability inclusion like in some Western countries, that enforcement is stringent and that special education should have better trained teachers.
Dato’ Yusri also mentioned that ensuring a mindset transformation in the community including members of the Upper House (or Dewan Negara) is also important alongside ensuring that the amendments of the Acts are carried out. It was agreed at the end of the discussion that the relevant laws affecting PwDs and the community’s attitudes towards PwDs have to be transformed in a parallel manner for disability inclusion to be more effectively practised. ***
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