Access to Justice is a Fundamental Human Right

Rangkaian Solidariti Demokratik Pesakit Mental (SIUMAN) is perturbed by the recent news of a Deaf e-hailing driver being allegedly assaulted while working near KL Sentral on 28 May 2024. According to his account, the 46-year-old driver was punched in the face by a ‘VIP bodyguard’, resulting in soft tissue injury, which was diagnosed and treated at Kuala Lumpur Hospital. He was advised to file a police report, where at one point he was eventually given two options, i.e. to have his phone confiscated if he decides to proceed with the case, or to drop the case and be compensated. Under duress, the Deaf driver opted for the second option. Throughout his visit to the police station, he was also left unattended for hours, given no explanation as to why his phone was inspected for an extended period of time, and given no immediate access to a Malaysian Sign Language Interpreter to communicate and defend himself.

SIUMAN would like to draw attention to the jarring gaps in accessing justice for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) as highlighted throughout this case. A disabled complainant’s right to communicate was withheld through action (confiscation of phone as assistive technology) and omission (unavailability of a competent sign language interpreter or other sufficient reasonable accommodations). Access to justice is a fundamental human right. It enables everyone, including PWDs, to live a dignified life. This case (and many others) points to an urgent need to address the gaps in accessing justice for PWDs.

The gaps in protection mentioned in the Malaysian Deaf Advocacy and Wellbeing Organisation’s (DAWN) statement affect all PWDs. Even though Malaysia has enacted the Persons with Disabilities Act in 2008, universal access, reasonable accommodations and discrimination protections are not mandated in any area of life. Section 30(3) in the PWD Act states: “The Government and the private sector shall accept and facilitate the use of Malaysia Sign Language, Braille, augmentative and alternative communication, and all other accessible means, modes and formats of communication of their choice by persons with disabilities in official transactions.”

However, Section 41 of the same Act precludes the government and state bodies from any remedial or court actions by stating: “No action, suit, prosecution or other proceedings shall lie or be brought, instituted or maintained in any court against the Government… …in respect of any act, neglect or default done or committed by him or it…” This is further supported by Section 42 of the Act which states: “The Public Authorities Protection Act 1948 [Act 198] shall apply to any action, suit, prosecution or proceedings against the Government… …in respect of any act, neglect or default done or committed by it…”

This clearly highlights the jarring contradiction and reluctance of the State to uphold disability rights.

Furthermore, Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution on discrimination does not mention disability. The Federal Constitution was amended in 2001 to include gender as part of our obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). However, the same was not initiated for disability after Malaysia ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2010.

We have also arguably failed to domesticate the CRPD and its principles in Malaysian legislation. We had no reservations on Article 13 of the CRPD (Access to Justice), but it is apparent that we have not operationalised it. This all needs to change and justice must be accessible to everyone throughout the whole process. The International Principles and Guidelines on Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities offers practical suggestions for the State to design and implement justice systems that provide equal access to justice for PWDs.

Multiple administrations have excluded PWDs from meaningful social participation in all areas of life, ignoring the promotion and protection of Disability Rights. We call upon the State and State Actors to view this incident with urgency and proactivity to ensure the rights of PWDs in Malaysia are protected. 

Pursuant to that call to action, SIUMAN has made several recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, that we hope will lead to better discrimination protections and mandated reasonable accommodations via policies and laws. All our materials and references can be downloaded from

Our collective stands in solidarity with DAWN, our deaf peers, and the Deaf Community.


Endorsed by:


  1. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  2. Architects of Diversity
  3. Association of Women Lawyers
  4. Autism Inclusiveness Direct Action Group (AIDA)
  5. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)
  6. Agora Society
  7. Aliran
  8. Association of Women with Disabilities Malaysia
  9. Boleh Space, Disabled-led Disability Rights Advocacy Movement
  10. Centre for Independent Journalism
  11. CRIB Foundation (Child Rights Innovation & Betterment)
  12. CYBHER Collective
  13. Demokrat UKM
  15. ENGAGE
  16. Family Frontiers
  17. Freedom Film Network
  18. Gegar
  19. Gabungan Pilihan Raya Bersih dan Adil (BERSIH)
  20. HAYAT
  21. Ikatan Mahasiswa Demokratik Malaysia (MDM)
  22. Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM)
  23. Jentayu
  24. Justice for Sisters
  25. Kemban Kolektif (Intersectional Human Rights Activists)
  26. KauOKTak (Community Building and Mental Health Outreach for Teenagers)
  27. KRYSS Network
  28. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Youth Section (KLSCAH Youth)
  29. Klima Action Malaysia – KAMY
  30. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Deaf Media and Technology Association
  31. Kedah Sports Deaf Association
  32. Legal Dignity
  33. Mahasiswa Keadilan Malaysia
  34. MAJU Foundation
  35. Martabat PJ
  36. Malaysian Sign Language and Deaf Studies Association
  37. MUDA
  38. Mental Health Association of Sarawak
  39. Monsters Among Us (MAU)
  40. National Organisation of Malaysian Sign Language Instructors
  41. Negeri Sembilan Association of the Deaf
  42. North South Initiative
  43. Our Journey (Probono legal representation for migrants in labour immigration & criminal cases)
  44. Pusat Pembangunan Rakyat (MANDIRI)
  45. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
  46. Project Stability and Accountability for Malaysia (Projek SAMA)
  47. Pemuda Sosialis PSM
  48. Pertubuhan Rangkaian Pembangunan Kesinambungan Malaysia (SUSDEN Malaysia)
  49. Parti Sosialis Malaysia
  50. Pusat KOMAS
  51. Persatuan Advokasi Diri Orang Bermasalah Pembelajaran Selangor & Kuala Lumpur (United Voice)
  52. Projek Wawasan Rakyat
  53. Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia (PROHAM)
  54. PurpleLily Social Association Kuching
  55. Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO Bahagian Damansara
  56. Persatuan Ikatan Serikat Serantau (IKRAR)
  57. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia
  58. Sisters in Islam
  59. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  60. Sabah Deaf Muslim Association
  61. The OKU Rights Matter Project
  62. The Talisman Project
  63. Teater Untuk Semua
  64. Teoh Beng Hock Association for Democratic Advancement
  65. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
  66. Women’s Aid Organisation
  67. 3 June Onwards – Development of Human Resources for Rural Areas (DHRRA)


  1. Ali Amir Razali
    Political Activist
  2. Amin Zuhaili Bin Mansor
    Deaf Advocate
  3. Adrian Pereira
    Executive Director, North South Initiative, PWD Rights Advocate
  4. Albert Wong Tuong Chui
    Deaf Advocate
  5. Beatrice Leong
    Autistic Rights Advocate, Founder Autism Inclusiveness Direct Action Group (AIDA)
  6. Bathmavathi Krishnan
    Wheelchair user, Senator representing Persons with Disabilities in the Upper House, Parliament of Malaysia (2013-2016; 2016-2019)
  7. Calysta Tay
    BIM Interpreter, PWD Ally
  8. Christopher Yap
    Deaf Person
  9. Dr. Ikmal Hisham Md Tah
    Legal Academic, Disability Law Researcher
  10. Dr. Vilashini Somiah
    Feminist anthropologist, PWD ally
  11. Dr. Benjamin YH Loh
    Digital media researcher, PWD ally
  12. Dunstan SG Lim
    Sarawak OKU Skills Development Association (SOSDA), Disabled Disability Advocate & Person with Lived Experience
  13. Dayangku Syarizat
    Person With Lived Experience
  14. Dr. Lim Chee Han
    Public health researcher, Manifesto Rakyat coordinator
  15. Datin PH Wong
    Childline Foundation
  16. Durrah Sharifah Ahmad Azlan
    Mental Health Advocate
  17. Freida Pilus
    Chairman, Cempaka Education Group
    President, Persatuan Siswazah Wanita Malaysia
  18. Gigi Teoh
    Hearing ally, a member of JupeBIM, an employer to 4 deaf persons
  19. Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar
    Disabled Disability Advocate & Person With Lived Experience
  20. Ho Lee Ching
    Theater Maker
  21. Iskandar Khoo Kuan Yiaw
    Ketua badan Perhubungan Perikatan Nasional Kawasan Kepong
  22. ‘Izz Daenie
    Disability Justice Advocate
    Person With Lived Experience
  23. Jonah Ong
    Deaf Advocate/BIM Interpreter, Human Rights Activist
  24. Jessica Mak Wei-E
    Deaf Advocate
  25. Joan Sim Jo Jo
    Social Worker, Advocate for the Deaf, BIM Interpreter
  26. Khor Ai-Na
    CEO, Asia Community Service
  27. Kelvin Lee
    KLSCAH Youth
  28. Koh Lianne
    E-Hailing Driver
  29. Kaveinthran
    Native Blind person, Independent disabled human rights activist
  30. Kya Cahya
    Human Rights Advocate, Activist
  31. Lavinia Abirami
    ⁠Deaf Person With Lived Experience Global Institute For Tomorrow
  32. Leong Wai Min
    Deaf Person, e-hailing driver
  33. Lee Siow Hua, Declan,
    RRC Grab team (Rakan Representative Community for Klang Valley Deaf drivers)
  34. Leben Siddarth
    Ketua Penerangan MUDA
  35. Lee Nyook Loong
    Deaf Person, E-hailing Driver
  36. Laura Kho
    Mental health policy consultant, Mind Brew, PWD ally
  37. Muhammad Mustaqim bin Badrul Hisham
    Person With Lived Experience
  38. Muhamad Nadhir Abdul Nasir
    Independent disability issues consultant & researcher
  39. Murugeswaran Veerasamy
    President, Damai Disabled Person Association Malaysia
  40. Meera Samanther
    Co-Chair of Ad Hoc Committee on Persons with Disability, Bar Council
  41. Maizan Binti Mohd Salleh
    President, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Albinism Association
  42. Mohd Asraf Sharafi Mohd Azhar
    PWD Ally
  43. Maria Chin Abdullah
    Social activist
  44. Mutharasapan a/l Lakshmanan
    Deaf Advocate
  45. Marzuki Ong bin Maliki Ong
    Deaf Advocate
  46. Mohamad Faezal Bin Muktar,
    Chairman, Persatuan Ikatan Serikat Serantau (IKRAR)
  47. Mimie Rahman
    Managing Director & Registered Counsellor,
  48. Ng Lai-Thin
    Dementia care partner, Project Lead of National Early Childhood Intervention Council, Member of The OKU Rights Matter Project.
  49. Nurafirah Jaharuddin
    Master Student, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
  50. Ong Hwei Ling
    Deaf Advocate
  51. Nasrul Noor
    Disability Advocate
  52. Norman Goh
    Person With Lived Experience
  53. Ong Hwei Ling, Annie
    President of National of Organisations Malaysia Sign Language Instructors (NowBIM)
    Deaf Advocate
    Co-founder DAWN
    RRC Grab (Rakan Representative Community for Klang Valley Deaf drivers)
  54. Prof. Wong Chin Huat
    Political scientist; Member, Projek SAMA
  55. Quah Jia Tian
    President of Universiti Malaya Student Union, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    Vice President of YouthCare Malaysia
  56. Sofea Rozhan
  57. Sharifah Tahir
    Dementia and care partner advocate, founder of UMI, Dementia Care and Resource Center
  58. Shawn Sharif
    Patient Advocate & person with lived experience
  59. Srividhya Ganapathy
    Co-chairperson CRIB Foundation
  60. SK Lee
    Deaf Person
  61. Shane Capri
    Human and Animal Rights Advocate
    Disabled Disability Advocate
  62. Sya A.
    Autistic Self-Advocate & Person With Lived Experience
  63. Shah Fariq Aizal Sha Ghazni
    Director of Private Security Firm
    Member of Generation Democracy (Malaysia Chapter)
    Committee Member of Asia Pacific Security Association (Malaysia Chapter)
  64. Sariah Ibrahim
    Deaf Advocate
  65. Tay Chia Yi
    Speech-language therapist, Malaysian Association of Speech-language & Hearing (MASH)
  66. Thilaga Sulathireh
  67. Tashny Sukumaran
    Human Rights advocate
  68. Wong Yan Ke
    Human Rights Defender
  69. Yana Karim
    Boleh Space Co-Founder, Disabled Disability Rights Advocate
  70. Yuenwah San
    Disability Rights Advocate, Dementia care partner, Co-Founder Member, The OKU Rights Matter Project
  71. Yeong Moh Foong
    Senior Job Coach Trainer
  72. 3 June Onwards
    Munira Mustaffa & Mustaffa Family Lived Experience
  73. Pong Chang Khim
    Deaf Advocate
  74. Mohamad Burhanudin bin Mohamad Zamri
    PWD Ally
  75. Rafeeqa binti Ruslan
    PWD Ally
  76. Lim Heng Tuck
    Deaf Advocate
  77. Christine Lee,
    Wheelchair User and Polio Survivor
  78. Dr Sean Thum
    Independent Public Health Advocate
  79. Azad Akbar Khan
    Ketua Biro Polisi MUDA Selangor

EN – Access to Justice is a Fundamental Human Right – June 2024