By Zainal Alhakab Seman

Issues and debates surrounding disability or people with disabilities (PWDs) in Malaysia include accessibility of facilities, social and political right, employment opportunities and social inclusion. However, in most developed countries, the debate has moved beyond a concern about the perceived cost of maintaining dependent PWDs to an effort of finding ways to ensure they get  involved in and contribute to society and nation in all spheres of life.

Based on current situations and issues pertaining to PWDs in Malaysia, a great deal of work is required in order to address concerns ranging from accessibility of facilities, education, recognition to empowerment and support employment.

There are some obstacles which need to be addressed by the government including public perception towards PWDs.”

In public service, agencies were established based on the provisions provided under the country’s Federal Constitution. In the case of recruitment and development of the human resource policy, the Federal Constitution  states that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Ruler of states are authorised to formulate policies where the appointment of Federal or state public offices will be under the jurisdiction of a commission or the respective appointing authorities.

The Public Service Department (PSD) is entrusted and responsible in formulating policies which govern human resource management and development for the public service.

Such policies include organisational development, personnel management, career and training development, employee relations and remuneration, pensionable scheme management including policy of having PWDs in public service.

Supported employment is about a system that supports PWDs in regards to an on-going employment in an integrated setting. Supported employment provides assistance that may involve certain reasonable adjustment such as assistive facilities, job coaching, job development, job retention and individually tailored supervision and training.

In some situations, supported employment often refer to both the development of employment opportunities and on-going support for PWDs to remain employed. In governmental perspectives, components of supported employment may be referred to vocational profile or assessment; job searching, job placement and job coaching that involve certain agencies such as Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Human Resource, Public Services Department, Service Commissions and related public agencies.

Since 1988, the government has initiated a policy of equal chance which indicates a reasonable percentage for PWDs to secure jobs in the public service. It was made official on Dec 20, 1988 via service circular No. 10, 1988 by the Public Services Department, in which the government has agreed on the policy of at least one percent of job opportunities for PWD in the public service.

With that policy, it is hoped that many PWDs who have academic qualifications and relevant disabilities would have the opportunity to serve in the public sector. In view of speeding up the recruitment of potential PWDs in the public service, once again, PSD has come out with the Service Circular No. 3 2003.

Through this service circular, the government has entrusted each and every public agency and the appointing authorities to put a great deal to meet the target. On the other hand, PWDs are highly encouraged to submit their application to the respective appointing authorities and register themselves with the Social Welfare Department in order to expedite matters.

In order to treat them equally during recruitment, the appointing authorities have considered separate exercises based on basic qualifications as stated in service scheme terms and conditions for PWDs compared to other candidates.

The appointing authorities may also appoint suitable and experienced panel of interviewers who consist of officers from Social Welfare Department who have vast experience in managing PWDs.

The Social Welfare Department is asked to provide guidelines that match categories of PWDs-job functions, monitor the progress of job opening and numbers of PWDs who have successfully securing the jobs. PSD as a central agency for human resource management in the public service will review the policy and also report the recruitment of PWDs to the government.

In conclusion, since 1988, the government through the Public Service Department has come out with a policy to provide job opportunities to PWDs in the public service. Currently, all relevant agencies are working closely to speed up the achievement of the target.

The target of getting at least one percent of PWDs in the public service can be achieved in a reasonable time if every party is looking forward, seriously taking part and continuously putting a great effort towards making it a reality.

CHALLENGES VOL3 ISSUE2 2010  (Challenges Magazine is a journalism skills training project for persons with disabilities started in 2007)