I grew up with many of my classmates, from age 7 we were in the same class until 17/18 years old. We knew each other's families and our siblings also grew up together. We might all have gone our separate ways or even countries abroad but we would not forget those formative years. I was in a mainstream school, my colleagues here in the UK now tell me I was lucky not to have gone into a special school.
Where I came from, I had to tell them, there were no special schools. It was not like I had a choice. Special schools would be equivalent to a charity orpanage placement. Thank God my parents did never leave me to go into one of those places. My parents wanted me to have as high an education as possible. However this means that I had never had any role models, my classmates accepted me and tried to beinclusive as possible but that did not mean I was often often left not being able to join in to PE classes or extra curricular activities.
To come back to present reunion, I find it more and more difficult as I get less mobile as the years get on to be able to negotiate the barriers at home. I find it difficult to plan a trip home even to see my family I am fiercely in need of maintaining the independence of movement - I use a power wheelchair which means I can more or less wherever I wish to go - dependent on the accessibility of the built environment. In Malaysia, I cannot see it easy to use a wheelchair on my own. In fact it is well nigh impossible. The built environment is hostile with practically no ramped access, dropped curbs or wide doors. There are many uncovered monsoon drains and steep steps. My colleagues in Malaysia such as Peter Tan have much reason to lament.
As I get into inclusive travel, I do not feel I can recommend Malaysia to other wheelchair users - which is a shame because I would love to. I am not even sure I know if Singapore which prides itself as an accessible and wheelchair friendly capital in S E Asia.