KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 — Despite facing unprecedented challenges brought by the spread of COVID-19 this year, the government continues to take care of the welfare of persons with disabilities who make up 10 percent of the country’s population.
Various initiatives have been announced by the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin including Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN), National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA), and Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN).
In a bid to provide inclusive assistance to those affected by COVID-19 including the PwDs, Muhyiddin recently said that the government would implement the proposal for the Social Welfare Department (JKM) monthly assistance of between RM200 and RM300 be increased to RM1,000.
The Prime Minister said he would ensure that eligible recipients of the assistance would have the same opportunities to live their lives like any other members of society.
He was also quoted as saying that the PwD was part of the community that was always close and given attention to by him and the government.
Through Budget 2021, several initiatives aimed at empowering the group were introduced including an in increase in monthly allowance for non-working PwD from RM250 to RM300; allowance for PwD workers (RM400 to RM450); assistance for senior citizens, PwD and chronic patients (RM350 to RM500); and home service assistance programme (maximum RM400 for volunteers).
Apart from the welfare aspect, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry recently announced that the PwD Communication Unit would be established to improve the facilities for two-way communication between the government and the group.
Its Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the unit, established in conjunction with the PwD Day that was celebrated on Dec 3, would be led by a member of the PwD-community.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was first celebrated in Malaysia in 1981 as World Disability Day, together with United Nations member states.
The national-level PwD Day has been celebrated on Dec 3 annually since 1994, with this year’s theme being ‘Building the Welfare of the Disabled: Facing Change’.
The establishment of the communication unit will also help empower 581,265 PwD, registered with JKM and prove that the community is able to bring a significant impact in society.
Meanwhile, OKU Sentral president Senator Ras Adiba Radzi said there were approximately 4.7 million PwD who have yet to register with JKM calling for the campaign to register the PwD to be intensified.
The chairman of the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) also proposed that the existing PwD Act 2008 be amended so that it would be more comprehensive and able to fulfil Malaysia’s responsibilities in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as enhance the enforcement mechanisms.
Ras Adiba, who is also active in helping the less fortunate said she would continue to carry out community programmes for the OKU community especially during this challenging period.
In terms of employment opportunities, some 1,397 PwD managed to secure jobs through Job Coach, and as of December this year, there were 4,202 PwD in the civil service.
The Human Resources Ministry recorded that as of June this year, there were 15,326 PwDs working in the private sector.
In conjunction with this year’s national-level PwD-Day celebration, Bernama in collaboration with OKU Sentral organized a virtual mini-concert called ‘Mini Konsert Dari Jauh’ via Bernama TV Facebook page.
Besides singing performances, the one-hour concert was also enlivened with dance routines and poetry recitation by PwD, including special children from Taska Istika Jaya.