Politics

When a man with disability questions election promises

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Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – April 5, 2018: A man who was born with partial spasticity added an emotional twist to a lively debate on electoral promises last night by questioning the sincerity of political parties in helping individuals like him.

Norazman Zainal did not mince his words when he told the panelists on how he distrusts politicians’ promises to help those who suffer from disability.

Panelists of the forum, organised by opinion research firm Merdeka Centre, were representatives from Barisan Nasional, PAS and Pakatan Harapan who discussed their respective manifestos.

“In the previous election, I was told at a political ceramah that Pakatan would give a monthly allowance to people like me because they claimed to understand our plight,” said the 46-year-old Norazman during the question and answer session.

“So when Pakatan won in Selangor I went to my Adun (assemblyman) to apply for the allowance but was told to take the matter to my MP (member of parliament) who then asked me to directly deal with the state government.

“At the state government, I was bounced from department to department, officer to officer until one told me that they did not have any budget for such a thing,” added the Kelana Jaya-based Norazman who does a number of odd jobs to make ends meet.

“I felt like a beggar… so can you guys tell me how am I suppose trust you all,” asked Norazman as his voice cracked with emotion.

Spasticity is a condition in which certain muscles are continuously contracted. Such a contraction causes stiffness or tightness of the muscles and can interfere with normal movements, speech and gait.

Norazman suffers the disability on the left side of his body. 

Responding to his lament, the panelist from BN Zaidel Baharuddin admitted that political parties have yet to do enough to help people with disabilities.

“I think all three of us (panelists) here can agree that this is an area in which our parties should give more focus on.

“Mind you that our first gold medals came from people like him (Norazman),” said Zaidel in reference to the country’s historic victory at the Rio Paralympics in Brazil where Malaysia won its first gold medals.

“As BN has yet to announce our manifesto, I will take your input so that it could be included in our manifesto… we still have yet to finalise it so I think there is still time,” added Zaidel, who is the BN executive secretary.

The panelist from Pakatan, Sangetha Jayakumar, assured Norazman that the benefits of her coalition’s manifestos will inadvertently affect people with disabilities as well.

“We will abolish the GST (Goods and Services Tax) so that you do not have to spend more for your medications and daily commute using public transport.

“PH will also be coming out with a policy where everyone, including people with disability, will be given a stable job. So as you can see, these initiatives will also help people like you (Norazman),” said Sangetha.

PAS was represented by its Youth executive committee member Syahir Sulaiman.

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Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]