This article was previously published on The Malaysian Insider.
Dear Lord Bobo, I am wheelchair-bound, and my undergraduate academic paper is titled “Enabling Persons With Disabilities Act 2008.” If I see a car parked at space reserved for the disabled, but the driver does not have an OKU card or a disabled person in the car, I want to be able to bring a big-money civil suit against the person through the Act. If the space is in a mall and the management fails to enforce its parking fines, I want to make an even bigger monetary claim from the mall’s management. And if there’s no toilet for the disabled in public restrooms, I want to make a gazillion-ringgit claim against the government! What do you think of my idea? (Your Handsome Minion, via email)
Dear Handsome Minion,
It is obvious that though you are a lazy researcher, you appear to be a cunning student. What better way to get the “answer” to your undergraduate paper than at your local neighbourhood Ask Lord Bobo column!
This is not the place to expound about the Act at length. However, we shall endeavour to sketch it out in a few paragraphs.
The Act merely provides for the establishment of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities. Its duty is to foster a national policy, oversee it and do all things necessary to facilitate a less-hindered lifestyle for persons with disabilities and cultivate appreciation for their disabilities.
The Act regrettably does not actually appear to actually create an enforceable right for persons with disabilities against the facility provider, but whether the courts are interested in developing them remains to be seen. So as it stands a person with disability cannot sue the authorities or private companies for damages for not providing the relevant facilities for the complainants.
What it does allow them to do is to make complaints to the National Council who is supposed to then look into it and then take the appropriate action. The Act is set up in such a way that the National Council is the be-all and end-all to lead initiatives for persons with disabilities.
Now to your ideas. It does sound exciting and tasty especially from an individual perspective. To be rewarded so magnificently for the injustices one has suffered especially since it is the government that is paying, is fantasy. But looking at it from that perspective fails to account for the opportunity costs of paying those gazillions to you (assuming firstly that there is such a cause of action, and secondly that you would win, of course).
Wouldn’t those gazillions supposed to be paid to you be better spent on some poverty alleviation program, or other worthier causes which would benefit more than one person? Especially when those gazillions comes out of the pockets of your fellow countrymen?
While damages are appropriate as a form of compensation, it must be reasonable, relevant, and proportionate to the suffering experienced. A legal case should not be like a lottery or get-rich-quick scheme – although you could be forgiven for thinking that.
Now to your question – can you successfully take action against someone who uses the parking bays reserved for person with disabilities? We don’t think so. But the truth is this question has not been tested. So if you’re up for it, give it a go! Although, we would warn you not to bother if you are only seeking a small sum in damages. Your legal expenses and filing fees will far exceed them in a very, very short time! We would say the same for the mall and government toilets example.
From the outlook of fantasy your ideas are lovely. However, from the outlook of reality, His Supreme Eminenceness is of the view that you are better off looking for something more personally fulfilling to earn your keep. Initiating cases with the hope of being awarded some ridiculous amount of damages is a poor entrepreneurial business model.
Lord Bobo, what are of your views of the latest political goings-on, such as the “Kajang Move” and Teresa Kok’s “Onederful Malaysia” video? (Gary Chai, via email)
It’s no secret what Lord Bobo thinks of politicians, and we really are getting quite sick of the cycle of extremes that Malaysians seem to go through – from one week to the next, these same politicians are either saviours and heroes, or idiots and outcasts.
His Supreme Eminenceness has said it before, Malaysia needs to move beyond being so politician-centric, so dependent on the cult of the celebrity politician. Otherwise, stop complaining or feigning shock and disappointment.
Kids, if you keep buying tickets to the circus, you can hardly be surprised that you keep seeing clowns.
Although Lord Bobo already knows your question before you even knew you had a question, as a practical display of your true desire to have your query answered, His Supreme Eminenceness has graciously allowed you to communicate your questions by either emailing [email protected]com or tweeting your question, mentioning @LoyarBurok and using the hashtag #AskLordBobo. Now, what the hell are you waiting for? Hear This and Tremblingly Obey (although trembling is optional if you are somewhere very warm)!