*deep breath*

Dear Society-at-Large, but especially Healthcare Professionals,

My name is Hasbee, and I have Type II Bipolar Disorder. I am also registered as an OKU.

We really need to talk about discrimination.
In the past few days, I've come across quite a few postings on Twitter which are indicative of the level of ingrained & internalised discrimination against OKU (in general) that our society still seems to tolerate & perpetuate.

Hence, this talk.
Everyone has the right healthcare, but there are many barriers (time, distance, cost, availability of doctors - basically logistics) that affect accessibility.

This affects vulnerable & marginalised groups (those in poverty, OKU etc) more than most. https://relate.com.my/persons-with-disabilities-act-2008/
What is not so often mentioned in the accessibility discussion is how stigma and discrimination are also barriers to healthcare access, but I'll get to that in a bit.

We have laws that are supposed to protect vulnerable groups, with some affirmative action (like the 1% OKU employment quota in civil service) to encourage full participation in society.

Sounds good so far, right?
In 2010, Malaysia made a commitment to the international community; and OKU in Malaysia, by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)...

... but, with several Reservations, which basically mean we had some objections.

Ratifying with Reservations = We are onboard and good to go, but we have issues with a few things.
We have reservations (objected) to Article 3 on General Principles - which means we have issue with Persons With Disabilities (PWD)/OKU having rights.

We objected to Article 5 on Equality and Non-Discrimination - which means we're OK with discrimination of OKU.
We objected to Article 15 on Freedom from Torture or Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - which means we don't have a problem with torturing PWDs.
We objected to Article 18 on Liberty of Movement & Nationality - which means we're OK with arbitrary detention of OKU.

And, we objected to Article 30 on Participation in Cultural Life, Recreation, Leisure & Sport - which means we're OK with limiting OKU participation in society.
This is the philosophical stand that Malaysia has taken on the rights of OKU. And this stand has had an effect on all relevant laws & legal protections that affect OKU in Malaysia.

So, do our laws protect the OKU community?
No. https://twitter.com/hasbeemasputra/status/1306553079995576320?s=20
We have no protections from discrimination in employment. https://twitter.com/hasbeemasputra/status/1306553087784398848?s=20
Nope. https://twitter.com/hasbeemasputra/status/1306553090812702721?s=20
The arguably ableist phrasing of our laws reflects this. I'd call this a cop-out, stopping far short of explicitly spelling out protections (including legal remedies) for OKU.

The philosophical stand we have articulated is that - hey, this all sounds great, but just in case we might want to detain, torture and/or discriminate against OKU in the future, for whatever reason...
There is actually a joke here.

NO ONE ("normal" or otherwise) is protected from discrimination, torture and/or arbitrary detention.

Why? We've not ratified the relevant treaties (like the Convention Against Torture), so national laws..
..may not provide the highest standards of protections; and/or may also not serve the best interests of marginalised & disadvantaged communities, which need protections the most.
The (cruel) joke is, with our Ratification with Reservations to the CRPD, we've formalised the second-class status of OKU. And our national laws, guided by our philosophical stand on OKU rights reflects that.
Interestingly, we have similar Reservations to the other international treaties that we have ratified, namely:
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
It also seems like we approach affirmative action & protections for OKU as charity (oh kesian) and not as a function of justice (everyone deserves a fair shake, regardless of circumstances of birth).
So, let's talk about societal stigma & discrimination.

Stigma exists. We may not like to admit it, but it does. Some of us say "OKU", but mean "cacat", don't we?

It may affect me less since I look "normal", but it does affect me, and the larger OKU community a great deal.
Stigma is a barrier to seeking & getting help, and a barrier to accessing means of life (education, employment, healthcare, love etc).

Stigma is cruel and traumatising.
The stigma won't go away if we keep perpetuating stereotypes in media & in our daily interactions, including on socmed.

It won't go away if we continue making jokes, expressing disdain & passing moral judgements about the disabled & any number of "The Other" communities.
We don't need to justify our existence. Nor apologise for it.
So, on top of all these systemic, structural & institutional barriers to full participation in all aspects of life, with so many cards stacked against us, we still need to deal with stigma.

And it is HARD.
This is why rah-rah-you-can-do-it-feel-good-rhetoric & OKU porn/sob stories piss me off so much.

If you really want to help improve our lives, recognise & acknowledge the barriers and obstacles, AND REMOVE THEM.

Don't put more up.

Include us in the process, not as a favour or as a token, but because it's right.
I'd really like to continue this thread tonight, but I recognise the signs of my mania amping up, so I will stop here.

I do need to get this off my chest, but I want to be centered when I do. Some with BD struggle with impulsivity, & I want to be measured with this.

Thank you, Senator. Appreciated.

I just wish more OKU would be involved in the (democratic) process. Still feels very exclusionary. https://twitter.com/SenatorRasAdiba/status/1309162289774424072?s=20
There are a few mental health-focused OKU initiatives that have stalled, which we need to work on urgently.
- parliamentary caucus on mental health
- decriminalising suicide

For starters.
Examples of societal prejudice.

- Exhibit 1
- Exhibit 1 (cont)

Upon being called out, I get this.
- Exhibit 1 (cont)

This goes on for quite some time.

Finally muted. No apology, no remorse.
Actually, no apology.

And yes, speech like this harms OKU. It perpetuates prejudice, and is indicative of the level of prejudice and discrimination in Malaysia.
It's interesting how some people view being called out for having prejudiced views as an "attack" on them, but don't consider the public expression of their prejudice as an attack on those who face the prejudice on a regular basis.
You can follow @hasbeemasputra.
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