Can OKU’s Voice be Heard?
Senator Bathmavathi, is the first disabled woman to be appointed as senator and the only second disabled individual to become a member of the senate after late Prof Datuk Dr Ismail Md Salleh. K.Bathmavathi was a translator prior sworn as senator on 18 November 2013 to represent persons with disabilities (OKU) and the post has been vacant since August 2009 upon loss of the economist.
Senator Bathmavathi graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in 1978 and later pursued a Masters course in Library Studies at the Loughborough University of Technology, United Kingdom. She has been an active advocate on the rights of disabled persons for the last 35 years and has published articles, presented papers at conferences and seminars both locally and overseas. She also involved in the drafting of several memoranda to the government on issues on the needs of persons with disabilities in Malaysia.
The appointment of Senator Bathmavathi was not welcomed by some disabled community leaders as they questioned her contribution towards their community. They also indicated that the ministry’s choice were wrong as the ministry did not consulted the grassroots people. This dissatisfaction did not stop the appointed Senator to perform her duty to make full use the opportunity.
Senator Bathmavathi mentioned cash handouts alone were insufficient and a comprehensive plan plus proper allocation of funds ought to be made for the disabled community. The recent 2015 budget announcement has made Senator Bathmavathi unhappy as she proposed the allowance for disabled workers to be raised from RM300 to RM500 and for the unemployed from RM150 to RM300 monthly to keep up with economic changes. However only additional of RM50 were allocated which she mentioned that its inadequate to cushion the rising cost of living.