A recent viral Facebook video showing a driver in Penang protesting against Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP) parking wardens clamping her car for parking in a disabled (OKU) parking spot despite her having a wheelchair-bound mother has been making the rounds. In the video, the driver is seen trying to argue her case that she should be allowed to use the space because her passenger is unable to walk.

However, the council enforcement officers stood firm by the ruling that only vehicles displaying an OKU sticker, with an official OKU identification card issued by the Social Welfare Department (JKM) are allowed to use disabled parking spaces. Eventually, the officers relented and released the clamp after the driver paid the fine.

The driver, when asked to show an OKU card, said the passenger was recently disabled, and the application was still being processed by JKM. Members of the public were also seen trying to convince the officers that an allowance should be made in this situation.

Checks with both the JKM and disabled advocate Peter Tan showed that JKM rules require a disabled person to be examined, with a letter from a government medical officer stating the nature of the disability – temporary or permanent – and type of disability. The disabled person, or caregiver, should then complete a JKM form and the card will be issued.

With the OKU card, one can proceed to the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to obtain an OKU sticker, which is only distributed at the department. Find out about the process and required documents by the JPJ here.

Tan said that for council controlled parking spaces, usage of OKU parking is only with the display of the OKU sticker on the vehicle, and the OKU card must be produced on request or displayed. This also applies to parking located inside government buildings, but according to Tan, the security guards in such buildings do allow abled drivers with disabled passengers to park in OKU spaces, at their discretion.

We contacted Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (MBPJ) for clarification and the council confirmed that it has the right to issue summonses to cars without OKU stickers parked in OKU lots. Under the MBPJ traffic ordinance, those wrongly parked in special parking lots (OKU and reserved) can be fined RM100. The rate may be different in other jurisdictions.

MBPP mayor Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif explained to the woman in the viral video that council officers cannot nullify issued compounds on the spot. “We will review the guidelines. There could be room for improvement. Yes, the enforcers saw your mother was in a wheelchair. However, your car could not be unclamped without the need for payment. At the moment, that is not the procedure,” she said, as reported by The Star.

As the current ruling stands, only disabled drivers, with suitably modified vehicles approved by the JPJ, with a JKM identification card, are allowed to use disabled parking. In many cases though, the disabled rely on abled drivers to move around.

It should be noted that OKU spaces are designed with extra space so that a driver in a wheelchair is able to move around the car and get in and out easily. Such spaces are located near building entrances with ramps for easy access to the disabled.

Registration as a disabled person with JKM is voluntary, but does allow access to all the services and privileges provided by the government for OKU. What do you think? Should the ruling stand as it is with OKU parking only for disabled drivers with proper JKM card and sticker, or should an allowance be made for drivers with disabled passengers, despite not having the proper documents and sticker, such as in this recent case?