10:37am 12/11/2022
Political party manifestos that indicate disability inclusiveness and support for OKU
By:Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS

The disability (OKU) community is monitoring very closely the current electoral and political process of the 15th General Elections. We persons with disabilities (15% of the population) and our care partners and professionals account for more than 30% of the Malaysian electorate.

We are looking for, and will support, political parties that make an effort to fully include OKU in Malaysian society. We had earlier clearly outlined our concerns and struggles.

Our pressing needs are:

1. Realize the rights of persons with disabilities by amending the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 to give it the scope and powers to enforce these rights;

2. Improve employment inclusion to offer better and wider job opportunities;

3. Improve education inclusion to mainstream, with reasonable accommodation, all children and youth.

We had recommended to politicians and political parties, especially those hoping to be elected as Members of Parliament or State Assemblymen, to heed the views of members of the electorate who are OKU or are associated with OKU.

We are now able to evaluate the outlook of three major political coalitions fielding the largest number of candidates by assessing their political manifestos and action plans for disability inclusiveness. The table below summarizes their plans.

Of the three, Pakatan Harapan has the most comprehensive set of plans, followed by Perikatan Nasional; both of which have a section dedicated to the OKU. The plans in the Barisan Nasional manifesto are minimal and appear almost as an afterthought.

None of the three coalitions mention the need to amend the Persons with Disabilities Act. Without amendment to give it the scope and powers to enforce the rights of persons with disabilities, any plans and actions of any future government cannot be challenged or questioned.

Pakatan Harapan’s plan to have a “Ministry or Department for the Disabled with a PWD Commissioner” is commendable.

Accessibility for OKU is a critical issue and both Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional mention this, although Pakatan Harapan goes further in including transportation and the need for universal design standards.

Both Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional have plans to improve the education and employment situation of the OKU. However, neither party mentions the importance of mainstreaming the OKU in education from pre-school to university with reasonable accommodation for this to occur.

Manifesto Contents

Barisan National (BN)


Pakatan Harapan (PH)

Tawaran Harapan

Perikatan Nasional (PN)

Malaysia Gemilang


Language used empowering or appropriate

Used OKU

Used Orang Kurang Upaya (OKU) and Persons with Disability (PWD)


Refers to OKU as Orang Kelainan Upaya (differently-abled) which is not the term used in the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008; the correct term used in the Act is Orang Kurang Upaya.

Have some plans for persons with disabilities (mentioned in manifesto)

A clear section dedicated to and focused on “the disabled”


Some plans mentioned but no clear focus on persons with disabilities

Has a clear section on persons with disabilities and plans for them. persons with disabilities mentioned in additional sections.

Has a clear section on persons with disabilities and plans for them, with persons with disabilities mentioned in one additional section.

Recognition of “the disabled” as a sizable portion of the Malaysian public


Recognition that persons with disabilities make up 15% of the Malaysian population and there is a need to remove barriers to enable full OKU participation.


Noted that OKU needs will also be a priority.

Major/Key Plans Outlined for PWD

Amend the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2008 to give it the scope and powers to enforce the rights of persons with disabilities




A Ministry or Department for the Disabled


To set up a Persons with Disabilities Department/Agency to deal with all areas and prioritize persons with disabilities – infrastructure, education, coordinating various ministries, welfare / needs, future challenges, and quality of life.


Mentions: to “increase involvement of the disabled in Government policy” but no specifics.

Persons with Disabilities Commissioner


Appointment of Persons with Disabilities Commissioner in SUHAKAM to help champion OKU rights and combat against all forms of discrimination.


Accessibility for persons with disabilities


Increase the number of facilities and public transportation that are disabled person-friendly, while also ensuring that development projects fulfill universal design standards.

Mandate disabled person-friendly facilities in all public and private buildings and premises.

Education and Skills Training for Persons with Disabilities


Special allocation for improving the education of persons with disabilities, including the disabled person-friendliness of the education system and infrastructure.

Zero Reject Policy for Technical and Vocational Education and Training.

Increase capacity and expertise of the 3PK centers (special education service centers) to all children in the country, including children with autism.

Allocate RM50 million per year to develop the infrastructure and learning of students with special needs.

Provide free assistive tools for Institut Pengajian Tinggi students with disabilities from low-income families.

Improve Community Rehabilitation Centers (PDKs) and vocational training.

Employment and Economic opportunities for the Disabled


Eliminate employment discrimination based on physical or mental ability.

Quota for persons with disabilities from minority groups for skill training.

Quota for persons with disabilities from minority groups in grants for small businesses, home industries.

Intensify training program (Program Latihan OKU Berdaya) for school leavers with disabilities to enter the job market.

Special Business Fund of RM20 million to help disabled entrepreneurs.

Training and career programs for athletes with disabilities to prepare for retirement.

Other useful measures that might benefit persons with disabilities and families

Increase the Public Healthcare Expenditure to 5% of GDP in 5 years

Disaster Resilience –

support for persons with disabilities



Support for PWD NGOs

RM105 million funding for NGOs operating care centers for the elderly and persons with disabilities for five years.



Senior Citizens

Enacting a Senior Citizens Care Act

Enact a Senior Citizens Act

Prepare for an ageing nation through professionalizing caregiver sector, provision of caregiver allowance and assistance, mobile caregiving service and one-stop caregiving facilities.

Care-Economy agenda to improve care system for the elderly.

Establish a department for senior citizens


RM10 million per year for OKU who use e-hailing services (vouchers).

Provision of national childcare service for all children below 6 years old.

Build more specialist hospitals for healthcare disciplines such as mental health

Provide housing that fulfills universal design standards

Address social determinants of health such as poverty and equal access to healthcare for all.

Hasten the amendment of Section 309 Penal Code to decriminalize suicide attempts.

Expand community nursing services for children with special needs in their homes

Care-Economy agenda – a scheme to improve the care system for disabled persons.

Improve Community Rehabilitation Centers (PDK) and empower rehabilitation programs, including medical treatment and vocational training.

Road to Paralympics initiative to discover talents of persons with disabilities.

This evaluation shows that some political parties have made the effort to better recognize the needs of the OKU community. This is hopeful and will be taken into consideration by the OKU community electorate in the coming 15th General Elections.

Our hopes for a disability-inclusive Malaysia will not end with the elections. We will monitor the implementation of proposed action plans as well as advocate for missing concerns to be addressed.

We look to GE15 as a major crossroads to improve inclusion as a universal human right for all Malaysians. We ask all Malaysians to “Make the Right Real” for the OKU community. We urge you to support #OKURightsMatter.

(By Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS, Yuenwah San, Lai-Thin Ng, Anit Randhawa, Yoon-Loong Wong, Alvin Teoh and OKURightsMatter Team.)


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