Muhamad Nadhir: National Council for the Blind, Malaysia NCBM

Updated: September 2018

In August 2018, the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA), a creative partnership of disabled people's organizations (DPOs) and election-focused civil society organizations in Southeast Asia founded by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), conducted interviews with disability rights advocates who attended a meeting of the Task Force on Mainstreaming Persons with Disabilities. The Task Force, which is organized by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission (AICHR), is drafting an action plan to mainstream disability rights in ASEAN sectoral bodies. AGENDA is providing support to the Task Force with the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).


A transcript of the interview is available below:


What is your perspective about the ASEAN Enabling Master Plan?


It’s a good effort… we should have, the ASEAN as the regional should have the masterplan, cater and include the needs and interest of persons with disabilities in all areas and in all aspects of life, right, A… its a good efforts you know in terms of planning, implementation, a.. we are going to have the ASEAN committee soon. So, As a persons with disabilities, as an individual, as a citizen of the ASEAN, we do want to be, we need to feel belong to this ASEAN committee. So with this ASEAN Masterplan I believe and I hope the real change, the real change in a disabled person’s disabled person’s life can be realized.


What role do you think DPOs can play to support the implementation of the ASEAN Enabling Master Plan?


DPOs in each of the ASEAN country can have two main roles, right? The first role is to become the agent of check and balance, right? since ASEAN. A… when they adopt, or, when all ASEAN governments will adopt this masterplan, they will need, a…., they will need a pressure group, pressure group to become a check and balance, to become a check and balance, to become a watch dog, and also to ensure that the government uphold their duties, uphold their responsibilities, uphold there… a… uphold their commitment… right?… to fulfilling all the action areas, in all of the indicators underlying the masterplan. The second role is a DPOs in each of the ASEAN countries can… can become a a… partner, a partner, collaborator, and also supporter to the government in the implement, monitor, and evaluate the masterplan. So we have to understand, we cannot deny that Disability issue is a multi-sectorial issues, right? Its not only focus on the commitment of the government right? like a private sectors and also the disabled people organizations and other civil society organizations should also collaborate, coordinate, work together to fulfill the, the, the… all the missions and objectives in the masterplan.


How will DPOs use the ASEAN Enabling Master Plan 2025 to advocate for greater inclusion of people with disabilities?


We already have the Incheon strategy, the Incheon strategy 2013-2020 adopted by all countries in Asia Pacific region, and we also have, before this we have the ASEAN Decade on persons with disabilities 2011-2020. And I believe in all of the ASEAN countries, they also have the national plans, their own national action plan, the ten , to this or the strategies or blueprint. so the ASEAN enabling masterplan is another, we can see, we can use it, DPO can use… a… DPO can use it as an additional instrument to enhance, or to strengthen our advocacy right? to pressure our government to fulfill all indicators to bring the real change into the life’s of persons with disabilities in their countries. so that’s how I can see the DPO can use this new masterplan.



What challenges do you think DPOs and government stakeholders will encounter when implementing the Master Plan?


I there will be at least, at least three major obstacles or major challenge faced by DPOs or government… a… government agencies. So… the first obstacle would be multi sectorial cooperation. Do the, do the disabled people, the DPOs and government in each of the ASEAN country can have a sense of cooperation, right? Like I said before, disability issues is a multi-sectorial issues. Its cross sectoral, It is not only by government but DPOs and private sectors, they have the role. The second challenge would be funding, right? Funding…a … budgeting. So each of the ASEAN government should aware and recognize the importance of the inclusive budgeting practice. We should not only focus, we should not only ask ministry of social affair or ministry of social welfare to have budget with regard to person with disability. All ministries should practice inclusive budgeting, right? And must allocate sufficient funding to achieve all of the indicators set up in the masterplan. And the last but not least, a… is with regard to the capacity, right? The capacity of the government officers. Do they understand a disability issues, do they..a…do they have the skills, necessary skills, necessary information, necessary knowledge to act, to implement, to realize all of the indicators, OK. So this are three major obstacles that I can think of.


What improvements or changes you would like to see happen to ensure persons with disabilities are being included in all aspect of life?


The fastest approach is that by a top down approach, right? Or macro to micro. So it seems for me, at the very least or as a starter, all the all ASEAN government must adopt this policies, law, regulations, and also, like I said just now, inclusive budgeting, to ensure, there are government, there are governance system, good governance, governance include the interest and needs and also the part of full participations of persons with disabilities in the governance, governance sector. Without that … whiteout policy, without law, without political participations, persons with disabilities will never have the real opportunity to voice out or to act, or, or to translate…a… the vision to be included in their society, …