The disabled want empathy not pity

Fatimah (second left) giving souvenirs to the golden boy Bonnie Bunyau Gustin

KUCHING: The potential of the disabled community can be seen when the right opportunity and guidance are given to them, said Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

The Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister noted that the achievements of the state’s Paralympic athletes in the Tokyo Games 2020 had created public awareness on the ability of the disabled and not their disabilities.

“They have broken the glass ceiling for this group. What this community wants is not pity but empathy. They want to live a dignified, meaningful life, hence, it is for us to look out for them to develop their full potential.”

She said this during the closing ceremony of a workshop ‘OKU Empowerment: Voices to be heard’ at Damai Beach Resort in Santubong on Friday (Sept 24).

She disclosed that the ministry was currently embarking on a project to establish a Special Needs Community Centre (SNCC) which would be completed in Dec, 2025.

“The project was approved with a scheme value of RM55 million under the 12th Malaysia Plan. The SNCC is a functional well-integrated and one-stop community centre for special needs communities under one roof.

“Meaning to say, at SNCC, the disabled from all ages have access to diagnosis, early intervention, primary and secondary education, vocational training, sheltered workshop, day care centre and full-time residential home,” she said.

Explaining further on the primary and secondary education, she said the education is for those who could not enter the mainstream schools meanwhile the vocational training provided in the SNCC are those that were not provided outside.

“Our role is to provide something that is not provided by others. The skill training, with certification where possible, is provided to equip the disabled with the necessary skills to be employable in the job market or to become self-entrepreneurs.

“Other than that, the centre will have a pool of professional support groups consisting of special education teachers, physiotherapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists to provide counselling and guidance for students, parents and teachers.”

Fatimah added that there would also be recreational and talent development facilities available at the centre.  

“More severely affected disabled adults are placed in day-care areas to enjoy peer interaction and perform simple daily tasks whereby the full-time residential homes provide severely affected disabled with care and support 24/7 when parents or guardians pass on.

“In other words, the SNCC will enhance the care and promote the wellbeing of disabled of all ages,” she said.

She asserted that the state government provides rehabilitation and support services for the disabled of all ages to empower them to receive educational, vocational and employment opportunities.

“As the state prospers, Sarawak continues to work towards building an inclusive society where no one is left behind along with a full spectrum of services available for them from cradle to grave.

“Additionally, if there is a law that discriminates against the disabled, the ministry will work hard in changing it as the rights of these communities are always protected,” she stressed.

Fatimah (left) during her speech at the Closing Ceremony on Workshop OKU Empowerment: Voices to be heard at Damai Beach Resort in Santubong