Still needs work… sigh

So I’m into my last few days in Kuala Lumpur before heading back to live in the UK after almost 21 years. Time to tidy up some loose ends.

Disabled access toilets have been and remain my standard bug bear.

After getting stuck in the disabled loo at Gleneagles Hospital last year Oh dear, what can the matter be? there was hope when the offending facility was closed for renovation.

Remember this:


Imagine my excitement this morning then, that after my final physio session I saw the renovations were finally complete. Yeah!

And then I opened the door.



Nice new tiles, I thought. Shame about the toilet (still midget sized). And then there was the railing. How the *@#! am I meant to reach that, when left folded up?

And guess what? There’s still only ONE railing. ONE.

Do they never learn/listen/care? Two. We need TWO.

And how about the positioning of the paper towel dispenser? Unique, was the first thought that sprang to mind as I stared skywards. Truly unique

I’d like to say things are better at Prince Court hospital, just down the road.

But I can’t.

Here’s the disabled loo from a few years back. Great, right? Not.


After some grumbling from yours truly they put in a wall-mounted railing. But it was too high to be of any real use. And the techies that installed it had placed a bend at the exact point I wanted to grab hold of it anyway, adding a further obstacle. Why?

And a heavy duty slip mat from a kitchen, I think. Why? I thought again. Why?

Still when I was told upgrading was in place here too, I allowed myself a tingle of excitement. Finally no more straining my shoulders to get up or calling on the concierge for help hoisting me off the seat.

Oh, how foolish of me.


One look and I could see the new pull down railing was also too high and way too far away to be of any use. I tried once and called the concierge for help anyway, preferring to keep my shoulders in their sockets.

My score for both places. E+ for effort but overall a big fat Fail (again)


Oh dear, what can the matter be?

One lady stuck in the lavatory…


Actually the way I remember the bastardized version of the children’s nursery rhyme it was three ladies, but who’s counting?

So anyway, this morning after physio I thought I’d grab a quick coffee before heading home to see my plumber (who’s investigating a leak of another kind in my bathroom).

Caught short, I needed to use the disabled bathroom at Gleneagles Hospital, Kuala Lumpur.

And that’s where my problems started. (by the way the picture above is not the offending loo itself, but a good representation of all that is wrong about disabled loos in Malaysia and possibly all the places I visit.)

First was the height of the toilet bowl. As noted in previous posts – made for midgets. Perhaps 30cm off the ground. Being generous 40cm at most.

Differential in height between toilet seat and wheelchair: may as well have been Everest (i.e. insurmountable)

Then there was THE railing (note SINGULAR railingG (again)): Broken.

Chances of pushing myself off midget loo? Zero.

Alarm bell? None.

So that’s a Broken, a Zero, and a None

Oh… (choose expletive of your choice)

Good job then I’d kept my phone near me, through force of habit. Quick call to the hospital switchboard and I soon had half the hospital security trying to fight their way through the door.

A bit of shouting later about ‘ladies only’ and a woman appeared, which eventually became two nurses. (So we ended up with three ladies after all  😉 )

And after telling them that yanking at my arms would not get me upright,  just dislocate my shoulders, and a suggestion of how about lifting me up?  we got there.

Me back in chair. Me pissed as hell (in both senses).

Complaints were made. Unacceptable for a hospital. Unacceptable for an international hospital. What were you thinking? Were you thinking? Shut it down until you make it useable and safe. grrrr etc etc

Chances of them doing anything?

Not holding my breath.

Now to understand how Malaysia treats its disabled (and associated facilities) you need a quick language lesson.

‘Disabled’ in Bahasa Malay is written as Orang Kurang Upaya or shortened to OKU. The problem with this is that it can literally be translated as ‘person with lesser ability’ which is NOT OK.

And to negotiate half the disabled loos in this town you really need super-human abilities, not lesser ones.

Researching this post, I found an article talking about negative attitudes associated with the acronym OKU  (ya’ think?) and how to change them with a different translation. But it also noted that although the conservative estimate for the number of disabled people in Malaysia was 2.7 million (in 2007) only 220,000 people had registered as disabled, suggesting stigma associated with disability was part of the problem (again, ya’ think?)

After I got home, still fuming, I flicked on the tv to see a promo for Victoria – a British costume biopic of the late Queen.

As she herself was known to utter: WEe are not amused…