After a few days of feeling feverish, exhausted, achy, and having an intermittent sore throat, I feared the worst: Covid-19. I immediately self-quarantined. My husband begged me to call the doctor, but I didn’t see the point, as I knew I would be told to get tested. For me, that medical advice was complicated by my disability.
It has been almost four months now that four blind masseurs have been left without any income. The massage centre operated by Yap Chong Yap, 55, Jeremi Ngalambang, 44, Nari Jerayit, 60 and his wife Uton Bilum in Jalan Salim has been closed since the movement control order (MCO) was enforced on March 18.
The Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) shows that the government wants to reach out to the most vulnerable in Malaysia, especially persons with disabilities, single mothers and youth. Among progressive measures in the plan include monetary incentives of RM800 per month for up to 6 months for companies hiring jobless individuals up to 40 years of age who would additionally benefit from comprehensive reskilling and up-skilling programmes.
The last three months have been very trying for visually disabled waiter Marcos Joel. “Since our restaurant is not operational, there is no salary but just an allowance of RM600 monthly which my employer says will be paid to us until November this year, ’’ said Marcos, who has a degree in broadcasting and journalism.
While social distancing has become the new norm for Malaysians during the Covid-19 pandemic, a community whose livelihood depends on the sense of touch is greatly affected by this change. The visually impaired are facing a great challenge as the abrupt loss of income and the movement control order (MCO), even under the conditional regulations, have made it hard for them to go about their daily lives.