Lower Telephone Rates For The Disabled!
CALL FOR LOWER TELEPHONE RATES FOR THE DISABLED!
Despite, all the political rhetoric from certain ministries and the "movers and shakers" of the Malaysian telecommunication sector, that we are a "caring and concerned nation", the disabled community in Malaysia, long burdened by high telephone charges, have yet to receive any confirmation to their appeal for a flat rate for their telephone chargers!
In March this year, they had submitted a memorandum endorsed by over 21 organizations outlining their needs to the Energy, Communications and Multimedia Ministry, the National Unity and Social Development Ministry and members of parliament.
For some strange and inexplicable reasons best known to the various telcos and the various ministries, an answer to their plight has yet to emerge, despite common knowledge that the telephone provides them with enormous social and economic benefits, and remains their “main source and mode of communication with the outside world”.
It is no secret, that for disabled persons, the telephone also forms the lifeline with family, friends, doctors, rehabilitation experts, physiotherapists, pharmacists and other health service providers.
The telephone is used for personal and disability counselling, distance-learning, and Internet access for online skills training, and to assist them to be self-reliant instead of being a burden to society.
The telephone use is also the best way for them to access government departments, banks and post offices because most buildings and public transportation facilities are inaccessible to wheelchair users.
In their memorandum they had alleged that time-based calls had stopped them from achieving their aspiration of becoming equal and contributing citizens.
Moreover, their main grouse of the disabled is when the time-based tariffs for local calls were first introduced in 1996, their phone bills skyrocketed and forced many to give up their lines.
In Malaysia a conservative and estimated 250,000 persons with various disabilities are currently registered with the Social Welfare Department, but, the United Nations estimates that one in every 10 persons in any country is disabled.
If the Malaysian telcos and the related ministries continue to be insensitive to these their plight and distance themselves from taking a proactive stand, in favour of a low flat rate for this affected group, their quality of life will deteriorate even further”.
Perhaps, instead of just giving "lip service" , it is time, the various telcos and the related ministries undertake such action as to protect the rights and interests of this affected community and ensure that their rights and interests will not be sacrificed at the "altars of obese profits and apathy!"
Dr. Jacob George
The Consumers Association of Subang & Shah Alam (CASSA)