As much as I don't want to constantly do comparisons between life in Auckland and life here, I think it's necessary to see the difference clearly so that we can improve as a nation. As a first rule, I do realize the many differences between Auckland and KL, economic-wise, culture-wise, academic-wise, technology-wise and many more. While KL may have a population equal to the population of whole of New Zealand (and that is nothing to boast of), in terms of mind-set, we are still way behind. Fact 01, I see a lot of people littering in public and the most shameful part is that parents even tell their children to litter. Is that what early education is for, dear Malaysians?
And don't give me there-is-not-enough-rubbish-bins crap. Even in Auckland, it's not that you can see rubbish bin at every 5 cm you walk. If there is no rubbish bin, can we not just gather our own rubbish and bring it home to dispose of. We create the rubbish, we clean them up. That's a rule-of-thumb that even small children know. Please don't teach children to throw their rubbish anywhere. That confuses them since they are taught differently in school. I think for us to be able to proudly become a developed nation, we have to alter our attitude first.
Secondly, amenities for the disabled. We lack so much in this sense. In most Malaysians mind-set (okay I'm generalizing, but you can ask yourself and ask the people around you whether what I say is spot-on or not), to have a disabled person in the family is pure heartbreak and tragedy. Full-stop. We are in for a hell of a sad sad life if we have even one disabled family member. While it's true that the first reaction we feel is sadness for this special person, we also need to think ahead, to plan. This is what most developed nation realized. That a disabled person can contribute, not just drain national resources.
That's what we should do. To teach the family to teach this disabled person of how to survive and take care of him/herself in this harsh world. By coddling and protecting them, we are doing them a major disservice. What if, in the future, this disabled family member is left alone (as the rest of family members either die or abandon him/her)? How would he/she survive? Who would take care of him/her? So, we need to educate Malaysians and provide proper facilities, help and support on how to rear a disabled child based on different types of disability, be it mental or physical or both. In general, a lot of disabled person can be trained on basic care like eating, showering, cleaning up and basic education. So, by helping them learn, we help them to grow. We help them to become independent.
When I studied in Auckland University, I noticed that there are tracks and braille on the floor and facilities like lifts for the blind. There is also a special department/unit for the disabled called Disabled Department. All of the doors and pathway to classes and rooms are designed to fit and help the disabled to move around easier. There are also special seats in rooms and lecture theatres for them. Even public facilities such as the bus have things like special seats and ramps and the drivers are trained well to assist them by lowering the ramp and waiting for these people to settle themselves before driving.
I can easily say that in Malaysia, we don't have all these. No facilities. No help. No education. If you are a disabled in Malaysia, you are doomed for life. You can only have a chance if your parents are aware of special schools in the city (only in the city, mind you) and you are doomed to not have tertiary education and marginal chance in having a high-pay and meaningful job (since you have little chance of higher education). Even these special schools don't have great infrastructure, facilities and trained educators. I've volunteered in a special school for 2 years before (don't tell me I don't know, I do). What they are doing is great but they do need help and a better planning. Lumping all special students with different needs together in a class won't help these people at all. While I understand the financial constraint, isn't this what our dear ministers are voted and paid for to do? To plan? To think outside the box? To provide? To help in a more realistic manner? This is where our government should pour their energy in, not in building another higher building or newer and fancier palaces for our Sultans that we don't actually need.
We need better basic facilities such as accessible classes. Small doors, standard desk and seats, no ramps, stairs and no toilet for special needs don't help in encouraging parents to send their children to these schools. We need special desks and seats, bigger doors, accessible pathway like ramps and lifts and special toilets (lowered seats, bigger space and lowered sinks) for the disabled. We also need trained educators for special needs. Government, it's time for you to encourage universities to open a quality education department and a specialized programmed like Education for the Disabled as a post-graduate option for educators. I know Auckland University has this department and program.
We also need a national education plan for the disabled. Anyway, I can list on and on on thing related to disabled needs. I know you get it. We need a plan and a good systematic deliverance of this plan. Education is the key. So, dear ministers. Please listen once in a while when the general public is speaking. Don't just sit on your fat ass, acting all powerful, sending all your children to international schools and overseas universities and having legions of wives and mistresses. Do your work once in a while. Do see that we still have poverty (while it's almost impossible to eradicate, at least you can use your brain to think up ways to help, don't you?), low education quality, lack of basic facilities and poor city development planning and execution (and many more I can think of and list)?
Again I can go on and on. However, let's just stop here while it's still interesting. Something to think about before you sleep (or at least for 5 minutes after you finish reading this), aye?