Turning disability into a national asset

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Can disabled persons become effective economic contributors to society? According to a World Bank estimate from 2000, the exclusion of disabled persons from mainstream society worldwide causes a total loss to gross domestic product of US$1.37–1.94tril. For Malaysia, the loss is estimated at US$1.18–1.68bil!

Disabled people in the Malaysian workforce

Malaysia is signatory to numerous conventions on equal opportunities and equal treatment for disabled persons. However, Malaysian society has yet to give adequate thought to the productivity factor of disabled persons and whether they can be gainfully employed. People with disabilities (PWDs) are often stereotyped as “welfare” cases constantly in need of handouts instead of being seen as productive persons who can make an important contribution to the economy. Malaysia has a lot to gain from helping PWDs enter the workforce. For starters, it can reduce the dependence on foreign labour and create a more inclusive society.


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