In November 2018, the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) interviewed participants of its "Strategic Communications and Advocacy" training in Jakarta, Indonesia. The training brought together disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) from eight countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Community. AGENDA, a network of DPOs and election-focused CSOs in Southeast Asia, was founded by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in 2011. An English transcript of the interview with an advocate from Malaysia is available below and has been edited for clarity.
Interviewer: We are currently in the middle of the AGENDA training on Strategic Communication and Advocacy for Regional Disability Inclusion in Jakarta, Indonesia. We are very pleased to have with us here a participant to share his insights on this workshop, and also more about the knowledge and skills that he gained from this training in relation to ASEAN Enabling Masterplan. Do you mind sharing with us your short profile, including your name and organization?
Wong: Good afternoon.
Interviewer: Good afternoon.
Wong: My name is Wong Yoon Loong and I am from Malaysia. I work with the National Council for the Blind Malaysia.
Interviewer: Mr. Wong, what do you think are the most important skills required for implementation of the Masterplan?
Wong: A lot of work has been put into getting this Enabling Masterplan for persons with disabilities, so now it is the responsibility of disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) to work together with other stakeholders to make it happen. I believe that the most important skills that we need to have are communication skills, because we need to communicate with stakeholders and we need to advocate, so advocacy skills are also important because not everyone understands the Masterplan. Or if they understand it, not everyone will accept and implement the Masterplan right away. We also need monitoring and evaluation skills because we need to monitor and evaluate implementation of the Masterplan since there will be a midterm and final review of the Masterplan. In order to effectively monitor and evaluate, we need to have report writing skills since we need to present information in a very clear way using an evidence-based method.
Interviewer: Mr. Wong, in this training you worked with disability rights advocates from across the region to develop messages for the Masterplan. What message do you want your government official to know about the Masterplan?
Wong: I feel that the most important message that we need to give to our government is that the Masterplan not only benefits persons with disabilities but also people without disabilities. I like to say that what is good for persons with disabilities will also be good for the rest of society. Thus, it is beneficial and important for government to implement the Masterplan. We estimate about 15 percent of the total population in the ASEAN region has a disability. We also realize that ASEAN is an aging society and that older persons will also need this kind of support. So, what is important for persons with disabilities will also be beneficial to people who are aging.
Interviewer: Mr. Wong, I believe that you gained quite a lot of insights from this workshop. Can you please highlight one thing in particular that you learned from your peers while attending this training with regards to the ASEAN Masterplan?
Wong: Yes, certainly I have learned many things from the training and most of us must have heard that if you want to go fast, you go alone. But if you want to go far, you go together. So, one important thing that I have learned is that all disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) in ASEAN should work together, so that together as one united voice we can advocate for the implementation of the Masterplan. We have done our part, the leaders already have done their part and authority figures have done their part to make sure that the Masterplan is adopted. Now it is our responsibility to make sure that the Masterplan is being implemented by 2025.
Interviewer: Thank you very much for your time.
Wong: Thank you!