Saturday, May 17, 2008

Disabled rep in councillor line-up proposed - The Star

May 17, 2008 By JADE CHAN

SELANGOR welfare, women’s affairs, science, technology and innovation committee chairman Rodziah Ismail is proposing to include a representative from the disabled group (orang kurang upaya or OKU) in the councillor line-up for Selangor.

In fact, she has already come up with 15 names.

"We want to educate the local governments to not only have disabled-friendly facilities, but to make sure these infrastructure can be used effectively and benefits the OKU" RODZIAH ISMAIL

“Ideally, there should be an OKU representative in each councillor line-up.

“If there aren't enough qualified candidates, the next best would be a representative from a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that represents the OKU group.

“My focus right now is to start with the local governments in urban areas like Petaling Jaya City Council, Shah Alam City Council, Subang Jaya Municipal Council, Ampang Jaya Municipal Council and Klang Municipal Council, followed by those in rural areas,” she said.

Rodziah said a trip to a fast food chain sparked the idea for her proposal.

Though the outlet provided a ramp and parking space for the disabled, she said that the ramp was steep and slippery, and the parking space was too far from the outlet's entrance.

“We want to educate the local governments to not only have disabled-friendly facilities, but to make sure these infrastructure can be used effectively and benefits the OKU,” said Rodziah.

“What the people must understand is that the OKU is not asking for sympathy. They want to be independent and most prefer to function unaided.”

Among the requirements Rodziah said she looked into are the candidates' background, resume and ability to speak up on behalf of the OKU.

According to her, the representative's role in the council includes:

> acting as a pressure group for new project developments to meet certain code of ethics and OKU specifications

> finding out the places that are the focus of OKUs (buildings, recreational places, markets, medical centres, banks) and evaluating its facilities

> reviewing all existing facilities for the OKU and restructuring them if necessary, while making sure they're properly utilised

> looking into setting a community centre that caters to the OKU's needs, including an IT centre and library

“There is a lot of infrastructure to look into, including roads, ramps, lifts, public transport and guide blocks for the blind.

“Besides catering for the disabled, having such facilities would also benefit senior citizens and people with temporary injuries that limit their mobility.

“I have personally interviewed the potential candidates to evaluate their capabilities, but I would've preferred a longer time frame to select the best among the best,” said Rodziah, adding that the candidates were sourced from submitted applications and recommendations.

She said both the Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and Selangor local government, research and study committee chairman Ronnie Liu are supportive of the idea.

“I've already submitted the 15 names to Ronnie's office, and we'll be having our final discussion next week.

“Once they're selected for the local councils, we'll have ongoing discussions and work with engineers to develop the best facilities for them.

“I'll also review their performance from time to time.“

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