Action plan on OKU empowerment

Fatimah (seated, second from right) with OKU NGOs, Noriah (seated, second from left) and others.

KUCHING: The Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Ministry attended an engagement session with various persons with disabilities (OKUs) non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to get their input for an empowerment plan.

Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah says presently, various services and assistance are provided by the government and NGOs for OKUs, but there is a need to ensure no gaps so that they are taken care of and given ample opportunities to succeed.

“As the Sarawak government strives to become a developed state by 2030, the state cannot achieve the true definition of progress if the vulnerable groups or OKUs are not given due attention.

“…and we would not be able to say that we are an inclusive society, government or state if we do not provide ample focus on our OKUs,” she said during the session at Wisma Wanita here on Thursday (Aug 12).

She said an area of concern was the future of a disabled person should his or her parents pass on and they do not have other family members to care for them.

“We need to see what are the facilities and services provided by the government for this particular group.

“For instance, we have Rumah Seri Kenangan for the elderly, and we can also establish such institutions for the OKUs,” she said, adding that institutions should be funded by the government and run by the OKUs.

On empowerment through education and training, she said it had always been the ministry’s focus to ensure that OKUs are as independent as possible.

“As brought up by an NGO, we cannot limit training to those who are visually impaired to become massage therapists or buskers only. So, it is high time that we change this.

“I believe that there are other areas where the OKUs can be further trained in or based on their respective interests.”

Fatimah said providing job opportunities for OKUs was important as it allowed them to earn an income, create self-worth, self-confidence and self-esteem.

“An OKU’s talent can be identified early and developed, and if they are good in sports then training can be given.

“Besides that, there is also a need to have more OKU-friendly facilities.

“For those in wheelchairs, the facilities are limited thus they are further limited in their movement. There has to be changes in this in terms of policies.”

Meanwhile, Sarawak Social Welfare Department director Noriah Ahmad said there were 40,738 OKUs and 37 OKU NGOs registered with the department.

She said the department provided monthly welfare financial assistance in three categories namely, Working OKU Special Allowance where each recipient would receive RM500 monthly; assistance for care of OKUs of RM500 monthly; and OKUs who are not working of RM350 monthly.

“For these three financial assistance, it costs RM5.3mil monthly,” she said, adding that intervention and rehabilitation for OKUs were also provided.