Two stories in today's Borneo Post caught my attention this morning while I was having breakfast of beef noodles at a coffeeshop at the Sunday Market. The first is the call by our Sports Minister to start referring to disabled people as 'people with special abilitities'. He rationalises that this is appropriate by referring to those who compete in paralympics [obviously overlooking the fact that only a tiny minority of the disabled participate in these competitions] and pointing out to those disabled people who have gone on to achieve success in professional fields like medicine, law or engineering [obviously overlooking the fact that these people achieve their professional success despite their disability and not because they had any special abilities].
I very much doubt that disabled people have any wish to be described as people with 'special abilities' - it would be trying to gloss over their disabilities. What we need from the government is more concern for the disabilities of these people. The minister should pay more attention to what can be done for disabled people rather than to change how we call them because 'a rose by any other name is still a rose'.
Then we have the furore caused by my friend Datuk Wan Junaidi, the deputy speaker of our Federal Parliament. He recently pointed out (in comments to the press) that Sarawak MPs are a quiet bunch who seldom had much to say in parliamentary proceedings. MP Nancy Shukri was up in arms, calling for action to be taken against Junaidi.
Instead of trying to muzzle Junaidi, Sarawak MPs should take a careful look at themselves. Have they been sufficiently vocal on issues that concern our nation, not merely raising problems in their own constituency? Why did the deputy speaker make the comment he did?
A deputy speaker assists the speaker in presiding over parliamentary proceedings much as a teacher's assistant does in class. If my daughter's teacher tells me that she does not participate in class activities, I would look at the reasons why rather than to castigate the teacher for speaking out.