ON Nov 11, the Dewan Rakyat approved the motion to replace the previously established 10 special select committees with nine new ones.
It made me think; why not establish a special select committee on disabled persons affairs?
Maybe some issues relating to the laws, for example the review and amendment of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008, can be brought to the committee on fundamental liberty and constitutional tights, while other matters are maybe relevant for the committee on women and children affairs and social development.
In theory, disabled persons’ issues can be brought to any of the nine new committees.
However, I am quite sceptical whether any of these committees will give equal attention to disabled persons’ issues relating to their respective areas of responsibility.
Plus, I do believe there are strong justifications for a special select committee on disabled persons affairs.
First, issues affecting persons with impairment and/or chronic illness are cross-ministerial and cross-sectoral. The issues are not limited only to welfare aid. They overlap various sectors such as the economy and income, education, healthcare, technology, infrastructure, transportation, social services, social protection and disaster management.
Second, issues such as physical accessibility across this country necessitate close cooperation between the federal government, state governments and local authorities.
Third, the agenda of disabled persons’ empowerment and inclusion in Malaysia closely ties to our country’s commitments at the international and regional levels, such as the Incheon Strategy and the Asean Enabling Masterplan 2025.
Hence, such a committee is needed as a part of the check and balance mechanism so the government fulfill its duties and achieve the targets stated in the international, regional, and national plans.
Finally, the establishment of the committee can expand the channels for the disabled community and their organisations to raise their voices and concerns on various issues affecting them.
This, ultimately, increases the participation of disabled persons in our nation’s democratic process.
Muhamad Nadhir Abdul Nasir