Barriers, Benefits, and Enhancers of Employment for Persons with Down Syndrome: An Exploratory Qualitative Study from the Malaysian’s

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Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Barriers, Benefits, and Enhancers of Employment for Persons with Down Syndrome: An Exploratory Qualitative Study from the Malaysian’s


Abg Safuan bin Adenan

Master of Science 2022


Barriers, Benefits, and Enhancers of Employment for Persons with Down Syndrome: An Exploratory Qualitative Study from the Malaysian’s


Abg Safuan bin Adenan

A thesis submitted

In fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science (Public Health)

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences UNIVERSITI MALAYSIA SARAWAK





I declare that the work in this thesis was carried out in accordance with the regulations of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. Except where due acknowledgements have been made, the work is that of the author alone. The thesis has not been accepted for any degree and is not concurrently submitted in candidature of any other degree.



Name: Abg Safuan bin Adenan

Matric No.: 20020372

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Universiti Malaysia Sarawak




Alhamdulillah, praise Allah for His blessings and for providing me with the strength and opportunity to embark on and complete my academic journey. First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my supervisor, Professor Dr Md Mizanur Rahman, for his invaluable guidance, motivation, and support throughout this study. His unwavering encouragement kept me going, regardless of what hardship I had faced throughout this study.

It was a great privilege to be under his guidance. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Dr Rosalia Simon for her valuable insights and kind advice.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my family for their continuous prayer and encouragement that made it possible for me to complete my study. To my parents, Hj Abg Adenan bin Hj Hassim and Hjh Wagini bt Hj Kemis, and my siblings, Dyg Hafida, Abg Zahiruddin, Dyg Noraizan, Abg Abu Hanifah, and Dyg Mastura – this is for you guys.

Immense gratitude to my postgraduate friends, Amirah, Tekno, Luqman, Vaen, Syatir, and Sultana, for their encouragement, advice, and laughter when things got too difficult to handle alone. Without them, my academic journey would be lonely and dull. A very special thanks to Khairil Anas for his aid in respondent recruitment and much more. Without him, I would not be this far.

This study was supported by a grant (Grant no. FRGS/1/2020/SS0/UNIMAS/01/2) under the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia. Finally, this study is dedicated to all participants, especially individuals with Down syndrome, whose paths I crossed in conducting this research. May your opportunities in life grow better.



Integrating persons with disabilities (PWDs) into society is the most critical issue of the current social policies. Globally, PWDs have a notably higher unemployment rate. Among them, the socio-economic research on persons with Down syndrome (PDS) is scant. No current data on their employment exist, and the reasons for these low employment rates are not understood. To uphold their employment rights, this study aims to explore the employment barriers, benefits, and enhancers for PDS in Malaysia from multiple perspectives. A series of online semi-structured interviews were conducted. Forty-five participants were interviewed: six PDS, ten family members or caregivers, six employers and co-workers, 22 community members, and one policymaker. A reflexive thematic analysis was employed, to generate the themes and subthemes. A thematic map incorporating the three domains of barriers, benefits, and enhancers of employment were generated. For the barriers, the themes generated were: (1) individual circumstances, (2) family concerns, (3) organizational practice, (4) social norms, and (5) restrictive environment. Under the benefits, three themes were constructed: (1) personal growth, (2) employer’s incentives, and (3) improving social acceptance. Finally, for the drivers, the themes include (1) individual strength, (2) family support, (3) inclusive workplace, (4) inclusive community, and (5) supportive environment. Employment for PDS is a complex issue interwoven within every aspect of our social and environmental context. Therefore, securing employment is not only individualistic but demands the willingness of society and the workforce to accommodate them. Relevant authorities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private sectors can utilise the findings to develop better, more inclusive employment policies for PWDs.

Keywords: Person with Down syndrome, employment, barrier, benefit, enhancer


Halangan, Manfaat, dan Pendorong Pekerjaan bagi Individu Sindrom Down: Sebuah Kajian Penerokaan Kualitatif Menurut Perspektif Malaysia


Integrasi golongan orang kurang upaya (OKU) dalam masyarakat adalah sebuah isu paling kritikal dalam polisi sosial semasa. Pada peringkat global, golongan OKU mempunyai kadar pengangguran yang tinggi. Walaubagaimanapun, di antara golongan OKU, kajian sosioekonomik terhadap individu dengan sindrom Down (IDS) adalah terhad. Sehingga kini, tiada data semasa mengenai pekerjaan mereka, dan faktor kadar pekerjaan mereka yang rendah adalah tidak difahami. Dengan keperluan mendesak untuk menegakkan hak-hak pekerjaan mereka, kajian ini bertujuan untuk meneroka halangan, peluang, serta penggalak bagi pekerjaan IDS di Malaysia menurut pelbagai perspektif. Sebuah siri temubual dalam talian telah dijalankan. Secara keseluruhan, 45 peserta yang terdiri daripada; enam IDS, 10 ahli keluarga, enam majikan dan rakan sekerja, 22 ahli komuniti, serta seorang penggubal polisi telah ditemubual. Analisa refleksif bertema (RTA) telah digunapakai, dengan menggunakan rangka kerja analisa enam-langkah bagi menjada tema dan sub-tema.

Sebuah peta tema yang menggabungkan tiga domain termasuk halangan, peluang serta penggalak bagi pekerjaan telah dijana. Untuk halangan, tema-tema yang dijana termasuklah: (1) perihal individu; (2) kebimbangan keluarga; (3) amalan organisasi; (4) norma sosial; dan, (5) persekitaran yang membelenggu. Di bawah peluang pekerjaan, tiga tema telah dibina: (1) perkembangan kendiri; (2) insentif majikan; dan, (3) menambah baik penerimaan sosial. Akhirnya, bagi penggalak, tema-tema termasuklah: (1) kekuatan individu; (2) sokongan keluaraga; (3) tempat kerja yang kondusif; (4) komuniti yang inklusif; serta (5) persekitaran yang membina. Pekerjaan bagi IDS adalah sebuah isu yang kompleks, yang terjalin dalam setiap aspek sosial dan persekitaran kita. Justeru, bagi



mendapatkan pekerjaan, perkara tersebut bukanlah bersifat individualistik, namun turut mengharapkan kesediaan masyarakat serta sektor pekerjaan untuk menampung keperluan mereka. Agensi berkuasa, badan bukan kerajaan serta sektor swasta boleh menggunapakai dapatan kajian ini untuk membangunkan polisi pekerjaan yang lebih inklusif terhadap golongan OKU secara am nya.

Kata kunci: Individu dengan sindrom Down, pekerjaan. halangan, peluang, penggalak













1.1 Study background 1

1.1.1 Legislations and policies regarding disabilities 2

1.2 Problem statement 10

1.3 Significance of the study 11

1.4 Research questions 12

1.5 Objectives of the study 12

1.6 Operational definition 13


2.1 Overview of Person with Disabilities 15



2.2 Person with Down syndrome 17

2.2.1 Prevalence 18

2.2.2 Diagnosis 19

2.2.3 Clinical features and medical management 20

2.3 Employment and the person with Down syndrome 21

2.3.1 Barriers to employment 24

2.3.2 Benefits of employment 48

2.3.3 Enhancers of employment 56

2.4 Conceptual framework 66

2.4.1 Social-Ecological Model 66


3.1 Research design 71

3.2 Research setting 72

3.3 Sampling procedure 75

3.4 Sample size determination 76

3.5 Study population 78

3.5.1 Inclusion and exclusion criteria 79

3.6 Research instrument 82

3.7 Developing research instrument 82

3.7.1 Developing interview framework 84


3.7.2 Developing interview questions 84

3.7.3 Reviewing interview questions 86

3.8 Pilot testing of the interview protocol 87

3.8.1 Selecting interview participants 88

3.8.2 Interviewing the participants 88

3.8.3 Results from the pilot test 89

3.9 Data collection procedure 89

3.9.1 Pre-interview stage 89

3.9.2 Interview stage 91

3.10 Data analysis 93

3.11 Data management and quality control 98

3.11.1 Trustworthiness 98

3.11.2 Reflexive writing 104

3.12 Ethical consideration 105

3.13 Study duration 106


4.1 Sociodemographic profile of participants 110

4.2 Perceived barriers to employment for PDS 113

4.2.1 In the end, it’s they themselves’: individual circumstances 114 4.2.2 “Would their family support them?”: family concerns 119



4.2.3 “Employers are hesitant to change”: organizational practice 121 4.2.4 “Some people shy away from them”: negative social norm 127 4.2.5 “There’s not enough room for them to grow”: Restrictive environment 130 4.2.6 Code frequency for perceived barriers of employment for person with Down

syndrome 136

4.3 Perceived benefits and opportunities of employment for PDS 141 4.3.1 “I can learn some more, to help myself”: Personal growth 141 4.3.2 “The employer will get a benefit”: Employer’s incentives 146 4.3.3 “Instil a sense of empathy in accepting people who are different from them”:

Improving social acceptance 150

4.3.4 Code frequency for perceived benefits and opportunities of employment for a

person with Down syndrome 152

4.4 Perceived enhancer of employment for PDS 156

4.4.1 “Special children can do a lot of good work too”: Individual strength 156 4.4.2 “Be proud of her. We are empowering her”: Family support 158 4.4.3 “The employer helps me to do work well in the café”: Conducive workplace 160 4.4.4 “They are being accepted into the community”: Inclusive community 163 4.4.5 “All they need is a supportive environment to grow”: Supportive environment 164 4.4.6 Code frequency for perceived enhancers of employment for person with Down

syndrome 169

4.5 Summary 173


4.6 Hypothesis generated 175


5.1 Employment barriers for PDS 176

5.2 Employment benefits and opportunities for PDS 180

5.3 Enhancers of employment for PDS 183

5.4 Strengths and limitations of the study 186

5.5 Implication of the study 187


6.1 Conclusion 189

6.2 Recommendations 190






Page Table 2.1: Registration of PWDs in Malaysia according to groups, 2015-2020 17

Table 2.2: Barriers to employment 33

Table 2.3: Benefits of employment for PDS 51

Table 2.4: Enhancers of employment for PDS 59

Table 2.5: A description of Social-Ecological Model levels 70

Table 3.1: Sample population of the study 80

Table 3.2: Interview protocol matrix 85

Table 3.3: Questions and criteria for trustworthiness 100

Table 3.4: Strategies to ensure trustworthiness 103

Table 4.1: Sociodemographic profile of the participants (N=45) 111 Table 4.2: Sociodemographic profile of participants according to groups (N=45) 112 Table 4.3: Frequency table of themes and subthemes of barriers to employment

for PDS 139

Table 4.4: Frequency table of themes and subthemes of benefits to employment

for PDS 154

Table 4.5: Frequency table of themes and subthemes of enhancers to employment

for PDS 171




Figure 2.1: The flowchart for systematic literature review 23 Figure 2.2: The hierarchy of the Social Ecological Model (SEM) 69

Figure 3.1: Flowchart in participant recruitment 76

Figure 3.2: Flowchart in interview protocol development and refinement process 83 Figure 4.1: Thematic map representing the relationship between barriers and

benefits of employment for PDS 109




CDC Centre of Disease Control and Prevention

DS Down syndrome

GDP Gross domestic product

ID Intellectual disability

ILO International Labour Organization

LD Learning disability

NGO Non-governmental organization

PDS Person with Down syndrome

PWD Person with disabilities

SEM Social-Ecological Model

SUHAKAM Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (Human Rights Committee of Malaysia)

UN United Nations

UNCRPD United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund

WHO World Health Organization




1.1 Study background

Currently, the global point prevalence of people with disability (PWD) is estimated at 15% of the world population, or about one billion people (The World Bank, 2011). This number is equivalent to the population size of the US, Brazil, Indonesia, and Pakistan combined (United Nations, 2019). In 2020, Malaysia had 588,378 PWDs registered, up 60.9% from 2015 (Ministry of Human Resource, 2021). As there is no specific registry for person with Down syndrome (PDS), the exact prevalence of Down syndrome in Malaysia is unknown. Nevertheless, these statistics showed that PDS and PWDs in general, are a significant portion of our population and a potential source of labour.

Employment is vital to an individual because it allows for meaningful social relationships, social status, and political standing (Jameson, 2005). Apart from that, employment could enhance one’s quality of life by providing a sense of identity, contribution, and belonging (Emerson et al., 2011). On the other hand, PWDs are often able and willing to become financially independent, and contribute to the community and societal development (Waterhouse et al., 2010). However, like many PWDs globally, Malaysians with disabilities have significantly higher unemployment rates than their peers without disabilities (Ang, 2017). Their lower income and job insecurity expose them to a poorer health outcome and living conditions (Curnock et al., 2016; Emerson et al., 2011).

Unemployment would also keep them dependent on their parents, family, or the government, jeopardizing their transition goals towards independence (Harun et al., 2019).



Despite the importance of work to PWDs, and their readiness to work, this vulnerable group remained hampered in their employment opportunities. Studies suggest that insufficient understanding of disabilities results in negative attitudes toward hiring them (Ang, 2017; Narayanan, 2018). Therefore, the widening gap between the labour force participation of people with and without disabilities has been an enduring concern for many governments worldwide (Khayatzadeh-Mahani et al., 2020). This concern has led to policy initiatives such as labour market activation programs, welfare reforms, and equality laws (Hashim & Mahmood, 2009). Various studies have demonstrated barriers to employment for PWDs in general. However, few studies explore barriers specific to PDS. The existing data often includes adults with Down syndrome as part of the larger group of PWDs or people with intellectual (ID) or learning disorders (LD). Moreover, to date, no study in Malaysia had examined the employment barriers specific to PDS. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to explore the employment barrier for them to uphold their employment rights and subsequently aid in their independent living.

1.1.1 Legislations and policies regarding disabilities

Throughout history, the PWDs had consistently faced stigma and discrimination, and their suffering is common in all societies. They are often denied chances to work, attend school and participate fully in society - which creates barriers to their prosperity and well- being. From the Classical period to the Early Modern era, discrimination against them are well documented (Munyi, 2012). In the Middle Ages, disability was considered a reprimand from God for one’s sin or misbehaviour or that of one’s ancestors, while others viewed disability as the devil's work The rise of the eugenics movement in the mid-1800 to mid- 1900 had further shunned disabled communities, as disability was seen as a failure, deformity, or defect of the individual (Marini, 2018; Smart, 2009). As a result of the myths


about disability, PWDs were feared and often stigmatized, shunned, abused, or condemned (Henderson & Bryan, 2011; Marini, 2018; Munyi, 2012). Therefore, it is of utmost importance to have legislations and policies that would protect the PWD communities' rights and act as a tool to provide equal opportunities for them (World Health Organization, 2020).

Earlier legislations mainly regulated people with mental disorders and intellectual disabilities, and were discriminatory (Frankenburg, 1982; Gray, 1960). Instead of protecting the community's rights, the law criminalized them, as they were often detained against their will to be rehabilitated in the asylums (Frankenburg, 1982). However, by the late 1800’s, the view regarding disability began to change, and it was perceived as an issue that had individual and public health implications and social and policy implications (Smeltzer et al., 2017). Disability was seen as a medical problem due to disease, trauma, or other health conditions, and this generally led to the medical model of disability ((Smeltzer et al., 2017;

Wilber et al., 2002).

With the new understanding of the condition, early precursors to anti-discriminatory legislations began to form in the Western world. One such legislation was the 1935 Mental Health Act enacted in Ontario, Canada. The Act emphasized the need to treat the mentally ill rather than control their behaviour (Frankenburg, 1982). It was an advanced piece of legislation and was considered more progressive than any legislation existing at that time in Great Britain, the United States, or elsewhere in Canada (Gray, 1960). From there, the enacted legislation and amendments became more protective, inclusive, and comprehensive toward the disabled communities (Smeltzer et al., 2017). In the UK, the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 became the first legislation to recognize and give rights to PWDs (NHS, 2013). It imposed responsibilities on local authorities in providing welfare services, housing, and practical assistance for people in their own homes. The Act also gives



disabled people the right to equal access to recreational and educational facilities and provides accessible infrastructures in public buildings (NHS, 2013).

Birth of the UN CRPD

Historically, the global effort in promoting and protecting the rights of PWDs was spearheaded by the United Nations, with the enactment of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons in 1971 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Person in 1975, among others (Md Tah & Mokhtar, 2016). However, these declarations are not legally binding and were adopted voluntarily by the member States, thus impeding having a full and equal recognition of PWDs under international law (Kanter, 2015; Kayess

& French, 2008).

In the following decade, efforts to call for a legally binding treaty specifically on the protection, rights, and inclusion of PWDs had become more vigorous (Md Tah & Mokhtar, 2016). Finally, on December 13, 2006, the UN General Assembly had adopted the UN CRPD and its Optional Protocol, which were then taken into force on May 3, 2008 (Md Tah

& Mokhtar, 2016). The purpose of the Convention as stated in the Article 1 in which the State Parties have the obligation “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.” ("United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol," 2006, p. 4). The UNCRPD encompasses mainly the personal aspects, equal and just interaction within the society, and the protection of a vulnerable group of PWDs such as women and children (Md Tah & Mokhtar, 2016).

Stipulated under Article 3, the principles of the Convention include (a) respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy, including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons, (b) non-discrimination, (c) full and effective participation and


inclusion in society, (d) respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity, (e) equality of opportunity, (f) accessibility; equality between man and women, (g) respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities, and (h) respect for the right of children with disabilities and preserve their identities ("United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol," 2006).

The UNCRPD was hailed as a great landmark as the first human rights instrument which acknowledges that disabilities may not be used as a justification for denial or restrictions of human rights (Degener, 2016; Kayess & French, 2008). The Convention also catalyses a paradigm shift in the view on disability, as it shifted the medical model of disability to the social model (Md Tah & Mokhtar, 2016). In the medical model of disability, emphasis is placed mainly on the impairment itself, which causes the limitation, without recognizing the role of the social environment in disabling PWDs (Degener, 2016).

Otherwise, disability is recognized as a social construct in the social model, created when impairment interacts with societal barriers (Degener, 2016).

There are 182 States Parties to the Convention with 162 signatories, and 96 States had further ratified the Optional Protocol, thus making it the most rapidly negotiated international treaty ever (Kayess & French, 2008; United Nations, 2022). However, the implementation of the UN CRPD within the countries was not all-inclusive, despite being ratified, due to several reasons (Md Tah & Mokhtar, 2016). In most multilateral treaties, State Parties are allowed to make interpretative declarations and reservations, or even having the option of not signing the Optional Protocol of such treaty (Md Tah & Mokhtar, 2016;

UN Women, 2009). Reservation can be defined as a declaration made by a state to refuse to abide by certain treaty provisions while agreeing to the rest of the agreements (United Nations, 2022). Meanwhile, an interpretive declaration on the treaty simply means the state’s



interpretation of a particular provision for clarification (Md Tah & Mokhtar, 2016)). Unlike reservations, declarations merely clarify the state's position and do not signify, exclude or modify the legal effect (United Nations, 2022).

The Optional Protocol is an additional agreement to the Convention, where it establishes an individual or group complaints mechanism for disabled people who allege that their rights under the Convention have been denied (Office for Disability Issues New Zealand, 2019). This two-way communication between the individual or groups, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Party-State, are entombed under the Article 1 and 6 of the Protocol ("United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol," 2006).

Malaysia and the UN CRPD

On April 8, 2008, Malaysia was one of the signatories to the Convention and had ratified it on July 19, 2010 (United Nations, 2022)). However, Malaysia had put forward interpretive declarations with regards to Articles 3(b), 3(e), 5(2) and 30, whereby it acknowledges the principles of non-discrimination and equality, and recognizes the participation of persons with disabilities in cultural life, recreation and leisure, for as long as they are in line with the Federal Constitution (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, 2015;

United Nations, 2022). Malaysia also made reservations on Articles 15 and 18, with no formal reason given, and did not sign the Optional Protocol (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, 2015; Md Tah & Mokhtar, 2016).

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia, SUHAKAM) organized and prepared a report on the Roundtable Discussions on the reservation involving several other treaties ratified by Malaysia including the UN CRPD in 2015. In its report, the reservation for Article 15 of the Convention was made on the


suggestions from the Attorney-General Chambers, which listed three main reasons; (1) Malaysia is not the State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Convention against Torture (CAT); (2) broad interpretation of the concept of

“torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” as it also includes death sentence and whipping, and; (3) the death sentence and whipping which are entombed under the Penal Code could be then considered as torture (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, 2015). Apart from that, Malaysia had also made the reservation on Article 18, which protects the liberty of movement and nationality of PWDs to choose their residence and nationality equally with others (Md Tah & Mokhtar, 2016). Albeit no formal reason for the reservation was given, SUHAKAM believes that the issues regarding nationality as the main reason, as Malaysia has a strict nationality law under the Federal Constitution (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, 2015; Md Tah & Mokhtar, 2016).

Persons with Disabilities Act 2008

Before ratifying the UN CRPD in 2010, Malaysia has adapted the Persons with Disability Act (Act 684) in 2008. This is to show Malaysia’s ongoing readiness and effort to protect the rights of PWDs. In essence, the legislation aims “to provide for the registration, protection, rehabilitation, development and wellbeing of persons with disabilities, the establishment of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, and for matters connected therewith” ("Persons with Disabilities Act," 2008, p. 7). The Act consists of five parts: Part I is preliminary that contains the short title and interpretations; Part II concerning the establishment of the National Council for PWDs; Part III concerning the appointment of the Registrar General and registration of PWDs; Part IV includes the aspect of promotion and development of the quality of life and well-being of PWDs; and Part V containing general provisions (Abdul Wahab & Ayub, 2017; "Persons with Disabilities Act," 2008).



In ensuring PWDs are treated on an equal basis, most of the provisions stated that they must be treated based on equality (Abdul Wahab & Ayub, 2017). The legislation imposes obligations on government, private sector, and non-government organizations as stated under Sections 14 to 17, with regards to the rights of PWDs as stated in Part IV of the Act, which includes (a) access to public facilities, amenities, services, and buildings, (b) access to public transport facilities, (c) access to education, (d) access to employment, (e) access to information, communication, and technology, (f) access to cultural life, (g) access to recreation, leisure, and sport, (h) habitation and rehabilitation services, (i) access to healthcare, health personnel and protection against the further occurrence of disabilities, (j) lifelong protection for persons with severe disabilities, (k) access to assistance, such as in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies ("Persons with Disabilities Act," 2008).

Matters pertaining to the employment of PWDs are stated under Part IV (Section 29) of the Act, where they “shall have the right to access to employment on equal basis with persons without disabilities.” ("Persons with Disabilities Act," 2008, p. 26).

Despite that, with the persuasive approach towards the employer and the absence of punitive or sanction imposition in the PWD Act 2008, a promise for PWD’s right to employment remains doubtful (Md Tah, 2013). In any legislation protecting civil rights, there is the need to adopt anti-discrimination measures to express the implementation and enforcement of the rights (Md Tah, 2013). One of the important measures included the existence of remedial provisions to address any breach (Hashim & Mahmood, 2009). The provision may act to address the need for the PWDs to launch any complaints against authorities, should any breach of their rights occur, and impose punitive actions against the persecutor (Md Tah, 2013). Unfortunately, Section 41 of the act mentioned that no suit and the legal proceeding could be filed to the courts in any event or act, omission, neglect, or


default done in good faith towards the government, especially to the Council members ("Persons with Disabilities Act," 2008). Furthermore, the Public Authorities Protection Act 1948 has been applied in this act to protect the Council and the government against any liabilities committed (Md Tah, 2013; "Persons with Disabilities Act," 2008). Several quarters have criticized this clause as being a ‘toothless tiger’ (Md Tah, 2013).

National policies

The Government of Malaysia has introduced several policies that are relevant for PWDs as follows: (a) National Social Policy, (b) Plan of action for PWD, (c) National policy for PWD, (d) service circular on the implementation of 1% policy on employment opportunities for PWD in the Public Sector; and (e) Code of Practice for Employing PWD in the Private Sector (Abdul Wahab & Ayub, 2017). The National Social Policy (Dasar Sosial Negara) was first mooted in 1998 and was approved by the Malaysian Cabinet in 2003 (Department of Social Welfare, 2016a). As an umbrella, the general objective of the National Social Policy, is to ensure that every individual, family and community regardless of ethnicity, religion, culture, gender, political affiliation and religion can participate and contribute to the national development and achievement of well-being (Ministry of Women Family and Community Development, 2016).

The National Policy for PWD was then followed by the National Plan of Action for PWDs with its 28 strategies embracing the following (Hasim, 2010); i) Ensuring a barrier- free environment including facilities within and outside the building, at the workplace, at home, and in public areas; enhancing user-friendly transportation facilities for PWD; ii) encouraging the availability of facilities and access to information and communications technology (ICT); iii) as well as encouraging universal design in the construction of houses




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