Workplace discrimination against Malaysians with disabilities: Living with it or fighting against it?

Suet Leng Khoo, Ling Ta Tiun, Lay Wah Lee


Anti-discrimination legislations and employment rights for People with Disabilities (PwDs) have moved to the central of policy in developed countries.  The emerging importance of the role and future of PwDs in society is necessitated by a paradigm shift from a ‘charity’ to a ‘human rights’ approach.  According to the ‘human rights’ approach, the universal (human) rights to a better quality of life should not be the sole exclusivity of able-bodied citizens only; but a privilege extended to PwDs too.  In Malaysia, the ‘human rights’ approach is slowly permeating into the country’s politico-institutional mechanisms reflected in national agendas such as the Vision 2020 blueprint that advocates a sustainable, caring and socially-inclusive Malaysian society.  In this regard, the adoption of the ‘human rights’ approach is timely and considered as a key prerequisite and milestone to enable and qualify Malaysia to be a developed nation by 2020.  To this end, several policies for PwDs have since been formulated.  However, this paper argues that these policies have failed to deliver in terms of establishing an equitable, socially-inclusive and discrimination-free working environment for Malaysian PwDs.  More significantly, this paper provides valuable empirical evidences that highlight the inadequacies of these policies to address and overcome issues of discrimination that are on-going and continue to persist in Malaysian workplaces.  This paper contends that Malaysia’s aspiration to be a caring and socially-inclusive society by 2020 is being challenged and at stake, if, issues of workplace discrimination against Malaysian PwDs are not resolved in a timely manner.


People with disabilities; discrimination; employment; human rights

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Copyright (c) 2013 Suet Leng Khoo, Ling Ta Tiun, Lay Wah Lee

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