1) I read with interest Alyaa Alhadjri’s article entitled “New Penang ferries a danger to disabled people – Activists” that was published on Malaysiakini on Jan 3, 2021. The article highlights, among other things, comments about the new ferry service in Penang and focuses on the dangers that disabled people have to endure in order to enjoy the new ferry service in Penang that came into operation at the start of this year.
2) I cannot help but wonder why such a basic requirement has been neglected by a public service in the state. After all, the ferry service is not new, having been in operation for the last 126 years.In addition, the ferry service has received a lot of publicity recently due to the retirement of the old fleet and the ‘new passenger and two-wheeled vehicle only’ service.
3) For a long-neglected public service, the attention given by two Chinese majority political parties recently is enough to raise eyebrows.DAP, which runs the Penang state government, has even made the ferry service issue such a big deal with its claim that it can only protect the service if Pakatan Harapan was returned to power. MCA as usual, remains mum over much of the issue, speaking up only to rebut DAP’s attacks over the issue.
4) I really need to ask, how does all this bickering and attention help the disabled get on and off the ferry safely?? If you read Alyaa’s article, the answer is obvious, it doesn’t! If both DAP and MCA truly care about serving the rakyat, please do not use the ferry service to further their vendetta against each other.
5) It is quite disappointing to see them trying to assign blame to each other and neglect considering the needs of the disabled, who are unable to use the new ferry service conveniently.
Also, planning for accessibility for the disabled should have been done before the service was launched. So do find out why this oversight happened and ensure that whoever is responsible is held accountable for their inactions.
6) Thus far, feedback has indicated the new ferry service does not consider the disabled, especially the process of embarking and disembarking. In addition, ferry service employees have not been trained properly to handle any disabled passengers or their needs. No signages or disabled-friendly access have truly been considered at both terminals.
7) If DAP and MCA truly wish to help, they should stop bickering and work together to ensure that Penang has a ferry service that is accessible to all its citizens, both able-bodied and disabled alike.Only then can we be assured that politicians from both sides truly place the rakyat’s interests ahead of their own agendas.
8) It’s time for political bickering to come second and the people to come first. Only a true Penangite will know the feeling of losing their 126 year-old ferry.