Political awareness for needs of disabled and neglect shown by political leaders need to change
9 Dec 2021
International Day of Persons with Disabilities falls on December 3rd.
On this auspicious day, the world community celebrates its success in helping millions of disabled persons improve their quality of life. Of course, much more needs to be done, but it is fair to say that disabled persons can now participate in most activities available to others in the communities in most countries.
To mark this day which has been recognised by the United Nations since 1992, I want to pay a glorious tribute to my wife, Suliana, for the tireless humanitarian work she and her staff have done in Kelantan over the years. They have been helping thousands of disabled persons (children and adults) in Kelantan since 1998. They face many challenges but nothing is too daunting for them.
For over 24 years, YOKUK-A Foundation for the Disabled and Underprivileged has been holding the hands of the poor and the disabled. They have provided:
• health care and equipment support;
• therapies of different kinds and regular home visits;
• financial support and guidance to the disabled to start their own business; and
• training disabled persons to have some skills to find work to improve their lives.
YOKUK has also been giving free meals to school children in need, as well as repairing homes destroyed by floods, which is an annual occurrence in Kelantan. They have done so much and all the services are given free of charge. There are not many privately funded organisations as active as YOKUK. They work the ground with toil, commitment and passion – so different from other charities who dish out cash because they have plenty!
To Suliana, the trustees and the Foundation’s most able lieutenant Sulaini Mat Il and others in Padang Tembak, Kota Bharu, I once again congratulate all of you on the many good things you have done.
Without the support of Universiti Sains Malaysia and the good doctors and nurses in Kota Bharu, Suliana will not be so effective. It is therefore appropriate that we extend our thanks and appreciation to the nurses and doctors who never fail to assist YOKUK when reference and assistance are sought for the disabled.
Organisations and wealthy individuals have been generous to YOKUK over the years and they too deserve our gratitude. I hope they will continue, despite some economic slowdown post-pandemic, to lend support whenever my wife writes to them for assistance.
It will be remiss and unfair not to mention my daughter Alysha Azrin. She helps YOKUK in many ways, including selling Special Murtabak Raja and serunding (meat floss) which she buys from Kelantan and sell to the rich people living in the Klang Valley. The proceeds are wholly given to YOKUK so that the Foundation has additional cash to support poor families, including those from remote areas in Kelantan.
Suliana, it pains me to see that people doing great community work such as yourself do not somehow receive recognition when so many others get Tan Sri and Dato Seri titles many times over for doing much less. Never mind; I believe God will help you in other ways. I know you do not care much for these awards and you get your satisfaction and happiness just by helping those in need.
As for the government, try a bit harder to help when you are done with the batik promotion. Employ more people who have disabilities for they too are interested in reaching their full potential. They have ambitions too. Encourage the differently abled to socialise and integrate into schools to have a more inclusive environment that will be beneficial to the community.
What needs to change? Two things come to mind – political awareness for the needs of the disabled and the neglect shown by political leaders. We have to start moving away from batik shirt promotion and building tall skyscrapers and instead, focus on making better the lives of those in society who are differently abled.
I am very supportive of the whole idea of helping the disabled and the poor. My next project is to wrest back Kelantan oil royalty from the clutches of Putrajaya. The billions of ringgit now with the federal government will have to be given back to the Kelantanese, and the poor and disabled will be among those who stand to benefit. How do I intend to achieve this? You will know soon, slowly but surely.
DATUK ZAID IBRAHIM
FORMER FEDERAL MINISTER