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Wednesday March 22, 2017
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Erna Mahyuni

Erna tweets too much on @ernamh. Angry Sabah native, slave to her dog/cat and blogs at ernamahyuni.com

MARCH 22 — Malaysians apparently have a lot of resentment towards people designated as “orang kurang upaya” (disabled) or OKU. That's what I glean seeing the hate and vitriol being thrown at the girl who drove against traffic and killed a man.

There were accusations that her OKU status would mean lenience, that she would likely get off scot-free and then there were insinuations that OKU should not even be allowed to drive.

First off, she admitted to a drug offence. Substance abuse will impair anyone's judgement, OKU or not. Not that I'm making excuses for her as her terrible judgement claimed the life of an innocent man.

But what is this hate towards OKU people? The way they went on, it was as though OKU were given too many privileges, that they didn't deserve to be given dedicated parking, and that they should just be treated the same way as other non-OKU in the name of fairness and equality.

My response would be: Perhaps someone should just remove your legs and see how you function without OKU so-called privileges.

I hate people misusing the saying “suck it up” and applying it to disabled people.

Life is unfair, suck it up. That's just how the world works, suck it up. You were born that way, suck it up.

If the world is unfair, it needs to be changed. If the system puts disabled people at a disadvantage, the system needs to be reworked. A world where we are just supposed to put up with circumstances and adapt, no matter how impossible that is, is a world that needs some shaking up.

Yes, people without use of their legs now have wheelchairs but when so many buildings and public areas are not wheelchair-friendly, what are disabled to do then? Crawl on the floor? Learn to walk with their hands?

We must learn to adjust to a society where anyone will be given opportunities. It's not coddling, it's not handouts, it's being fair to people and addressing the structural injustices of our current modern world.

What, are we to be Spartans, throwing out our diseased and disabled newborns and leaving them to die of exposure? Are we supposed to champion a world where only the able-bodied and monied deserve to live?

The answer is no. The able-bodied need to stop thinking the disabled want special treatment, when they only want a level playing field ― a chance at life and the ability to contribute.

So the next time you see an OKU sign, react not with pity or revulsion, but of acceptance ― that this world does not and should not belong to those without physical challenges. It belongs to everyone of us and we should never forget that.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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