MALAYSIA COUNTRY Report 2014
(For presentation to the WBUAP Mid-Term Regional General Assembly, Hong Kong, November 2014).
- Describe one or two recent highlights over the past two years.
1.1. The Traditional and Complementary Medicine Act 2013: To regulate and upgrade the provision of traditional medicines and complementary forms of health-care, which includes all forms of massage and sensory healing, the Ministry of Health of Malaysia introduced the Act in 2013. The Act requires all practitioners to be registered with MOH, be certified by professional bodies or be tested under stringent conditions specified by MOH, and all practitioners to take up indemnity insurance coverage.
As a result of this move, most of the blind masseurs and masseusses are rushing to upgrade themselves to obtain the certification and to purchase the insurance coverage. As a member of the Federation of Complementary and Natural Medical Association of Malaysia (the umbrella body recognised by MOH), NCBM has secured the right for the blind practitioners to purchase the indemnity insurance on the same terms as their sighted counterparts.
The days of learning massage from friends or attending short courses are gone! This also means that organisations teaching massage to the BVI trainees must upgrade the skills of their instructors, provide better training facilities, and to expose their trainees to more aspects connected with massage and the management of massage centres.
1.2. The Braille Council of Malaysia: This idea initiated by NCBM a few years back, has now become a reality. With its Launch slated in January 2015 and NCBM appointed its Secretariat, the Council will report directly to the National Council for the Upliftment of Persons with Disabilities set up under the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2008. Members of the Council are appointed from Government bodies, notably from departments concerning Education, interested stakeholders and from NCBM.
Some functions of the Braille Council include: Standardising the use of various Braille codes and tactile diagrams in the production of textbooks and literary works in the country, further development of the Malay Braille Code, including its computerisation; generally seeing to the promotion of Braille literacy.
1.3. The Malaysian Education Blueprint: Spanning the period from 2013 – 2025, it aims to achieve 70 percent plus success in the Inclusion of disabled children into the school system. Currently the intake is around 9 percent. The attendance of BVI students in Inclusive Education is quite satisfactory although the interpretation and understanding of the real concept has much room for improvement.
It is an achievement that under this Blueprint for transforming the education system in the country, an entire chapter is devoted to the educational needs of persons with disabilities.
- What challenges are being faced at present at organisational or country level?
2.1. The One-Eye Classification: The Malaysian Government has classified Malaysians with one impaired eye as Persons with Disabilities. This entitles them to apply for the Disabled Card (Kad Oku) which entitles the holders to enjoy all privileges given under the system. These include: Applying for free passports, free medical treatment at Government hospitals, welfare benefits, concessionary passes on certain public transport, and certain privileges given by the private sector, etc.
What this action does is to add more disabled persons to the welfare system when the National Annual Budget is not much increased, and the concerned persons can choose to live in two worlds to their advantage as they can function quite normally with this condition. For instance in employment, by employing this category of persons, certain employers will claim they have met the quota for employing disabled people.
2.2. The Job Readiness Workshop: Following the selection of NCBM by the WBUAP CEEE to implement the Malaysian Adaptive Equipment Loan Project being funded by the Seeing is Believing Innovative Fund of the Standard Chartered Bank of UK, we realised that our BVI job seekers are poorly prepared to enter the job market to take up jobs commensurate to their academic qualification. Consequently, NCBM requested the Royal Society for the Blind of South Australia to send an Employment Consultant, in the person of Brian Dibbins, to conduct a workshop in June 2014.
NCBM is seriously following up with this programme, by either using the lessons learnt in the context of the local requirements to organise more of such workshops, or to work with RSB to move things forward.
One of these workshops will be organised in mid-December to build self-confidence, writing meaningful resumes, how to convince employers to give BVI job seekers the chance to prove themselves, and to conduct mock interviews. Another action being taken in 2014 is the re-introduction of the Career Guidance Camp for School-leavers.
- Name examples of progress in your country towards ratifying, implementation and monitoring of the UNCRPD.
3.1. The National Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities: The Department for Persons with Disabilities under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, is in the process of finalising the draft of the National Plan spanning the period from 2015 to 2022, formulated closely to the Incheon Strategy. The disabled community will definitely monitor its implementation, especially by organisations serving the disabled and by the disabled representatives serving on the National Council for the Upliftment of the Disabled set up under the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2008.
- Explain how you are supporting neighbouring or developing countries in terms of the well-being and capacity building or empowerment of blind and vision-impaired persons.
4.1. Progressing Together: While pursuing our own agenda, we also subscribe fully to the philosophy of WBUAP of helping each other to progress. In this direction, NCBM extended invitations to the representatives from Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines to attend the Job Readiness Workshop in June with the hope that they will be motivated and to seize the opportunity to take further actions to help their members.
4.2. The Spill-over Effect: We in NCBM are convinced that what we can achieve in the field of education will also benefit one or two of our neibouring countries, such as Brunei and Singapore. Take for instance, the work of the Braille Council of Malaysia. The development of the Malay Braille Code and its computerisation will be shared with Brunei which has many things in common in the educational field with Malaysia.
4.3. Responding to Urgent Needs: Where possible, NCBM will respond positively to urgent requests to help our neibours to overcome tight situations. Recently, one country requested for expertise to help them with their Braille embossers and for paper to print Braille materials needed for their school-children. This was acceded to, and the concerned country is very happy with the assistance.