Wednesday, April 26, 2006
thinking the world owes you
I read with interest an article in the Star a few weeks ago. It reported the story of a wheelchair bound lady who couldn't reach the paying machine for parking tickets, and so she decided not to pay for her parking tickets. As you would imagine, not paying for parking would earn you a saman, and despite numerous (rejected) appeals saying that she was disabled, the Klang Municipal Council have decided to take her to court. Labels: musings
Court taking disabled woman to court over parking fees
KUALA LUMPUR: It can be difficult to find disabled-friendly parking space in Klang, yet the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) is prepared to take a disabled woman to court for failure to pay parking-related compounds.
Independent Living & Training Centre secretary Gurdip Kaur @ Rina was taken aback to receive a notice dated March 30 from the council informing her that court action "will be initiated at any time" against her.
The letter was headed "Notice of Court Action and Warrant of Arrest".
Rina, 45, made frequent visits to Klang in mid-2004 as the centre was organising an event there and received about 10 compounds then for not paying parking fees.
"There were no parking lots for the disabled and the ticket machines were inaccessible for wheelchair-bound people as there were poles in front of them," she said yesterday at a press conference.
According to her, when she called the council to explain the situation, its legal adviser Fadzilah Abd Aziz said: "Whether you are disabled or not, you have to pay the parking fees. Rules are rules."
Rina, who has been paralysed from the waist downwards after a fall in 1993, then wrote a letter of appeal to the council on Feb 22 last year, enclosing a copy of her disabled person's identification card.
However, she received the council's notice last Friday.
Rina - who said she did not get help from passers-by to pay her parking fee because she "wanted to be independent" - felt that the council should not penalise disabled people when it did not provide adequate parking facilities for them.
"I don't want to see the same thing happening to other disabled people," she said.
Centre adviser Anthony Thanasayan said local authorities of places like Seremban and Kajang would cancel such compounds once the situation had been explained to them.
"Why can't MPK do the same?
"Malaysia is a caring society but this incident shows that some people are insensitive. It's as if these people are sending out a strong message: 'Don't come out. Stay at home'. But we are just like anyone else," he said.
Anthony said the centre hoped to meet with Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting to discuss this issue.
"The ministry should educate local councils on how to treat us right," he said, urging local authorities to work more closely with disabled groups.
When contacted, MPK public relations officer Norfiza Mahfiz said Rina should see her at the council office to sort out the matter.
However, she added: "Whether you are disabled or not, parking without paying the parking fees is wrong.
"She can be granted a discount, but we are not going to cancel the compounds."
There was a subsequent follow-up report in The Sun a few days after that where some comments by some disabled groups and a politician or two were thrown into the mix. This topic is one that hits close to home (VERY close to home, I might add), but yet I feel that there is a slight injustice in the reaction of the newspapers and the politicians to go out and critisize the Klang Municipal council. They have since cancelled all the summons due to external pressure from the public, disabled groups and of course those lovely politicians.
My major bone of contention here is that she could have asked for help from a passerby to help her buy the ticket, but she chose not to do that because she "wanted to be independant". Being independant isn't really the point. We recognise our flaws but we also have to recognise that we sometimes need help. It has nothing to do with independance. It is plain arrogance to demand that you do not have to pay for parking just because they do not make the machine 'disabled friendly'.
(On a sidenote : I can't seem to figure out how we can make the parking coupon machine 'wheelchair friendly' since it would have to be incredibly low for wheelchair bound folks to reach, but that would be a ridiculous design since everybody would have to bend really low to use it)
I think it very wrong that the Municipal council retracted the summons. I think it very wrong the disabled groups had to play the PITY card. I am saddened because this issue has got nothing to do with 'society being caring' or people being 'insensitive'. She also goes on to say that she does not feel the need to pay the parking ticket when the council did not provide adequate parking facilities. This is nothing more than arrogance and thinking the world owes her aplenty. There aren't adequate parking lots for everybody else as well....so does that mean that if I can't find a parking space, I can park of the yellow line and then refuse to pay the fine if a policeman comes along?
This is nothing more than a woman REFUSING to pay her parking ticket and then getting away with it scot-free just because she sits in a wheelchair.
Would she have to pay her parking tickets in the future?
I guess not.
And as for the 'wheelchair-friendly" parking coupon vending machine. Just give her a god-damn stick to poke and prod at the buttons since she refuses any help.
Some aunty person saw and started scolding me and saying I should move my car, but then I told her:
"I'm a retard, ma'am."
She actually shut up. Amazing. :P
she probably wanted to make a point to the klang municipal council about their paying machines not being disabled friendly. but at the end of the day she should have asked for help. you cannot get away with everything by saying that you are disabled.
it is also interesting to note which politician it was who supported her to gain points in the public's eyes. as most of you here probably know, malaysians are suckers for stories like these. and i am pretty sure the politician didnt even bother checking the merits of her claim. i bet if we started a general fund for her now we could collect lots of money.
and my last point is reserved for the geniuses at the klang municipal council.
"She can be granted a discount, but we are not going to cancel the compounds."
in what way does this make sense? on the one hand they are saying that she must pay for her parking whether or not she is disabled, and on the other hand they are offering her a discount. what entitles her to this discount and not any one else? the fact that she has to ask for someone's help to reach the machine?
she is arguing that she did not pay because she could not reach the machine. she is not saying that she should not pay because she is disabled.
by offering the discount are they admitting fault? if she had accepted the discounted rate will she be admitting she was in it to get a bargain?
on one hand, it is true that town planning in malaysia has been done without the disabled in mind for goodness knows how many years. the concrete slabs do cause inconvenience and it is things like that that make the disabled feel even more insignificant in society because their needs are not taken into consideration.
on the other hand, i found it ironic that thanasayan said "we are just like anyone else" to justify her refusal to pay the fines when just a couple of paragraphs before, the mpk legal advisor said "whether you are disabled or not, you have to pay the parking fees". doesn't that show the mpk does indeed see a disabled person as "anyone else"?
i still like to think that people in general do not resort to using their disabilities to get away with things just because they will have the pity card on their side. however stories like this one as well as the one about the spm top scorer who had his jpa scholarship application rejected make me tempted to change my mind.
Actually right, usually when you kena saman, if you appeal abit when you pay...you will usually get "discounts".
i dont see her being arrogant. she wants to be independent, (something rare to hear from a malaysian) but pity how ppl around her never try to help her, or else she cant make that kind of statement.
a friend of mine got robbed right in front of the commuter at bandar tasik selatan recently. in front of a very large crowd. did she ask for help? yes. loudly cried for help. she even tried to chase those 2 men. did anyone help? NONE. and she is a normal person, not disabled.
so you see, people mostly now doesnt give a damn. they like being nosy, but not give any help. hope that those few caring minority will change this attitude...soon.
But the municipal council should have been fined for not allocating infrastructure for the disabled.
Malaysia has a long way to go..
kalau tak mau resit boleh diskaun...
and sorry to deviate but is it true that the traffic police are no longer allowing appeals to reduce fines for summonses?