SINGAPORE: A video of a Malaysian man berating a couple for parking their car in a handicap lot has divided netizens from both sides of the Causeway.
Three videos of the incident, posted on Facebook group “Champion4disability” by Naren Narasiah, 44, on Monday (April 11), have since gone viral. The first video he posted has been shared more than 11,000 times.
Naren, an energy consultant for the manufacturing industry, told The Straits Times that he regularly confronts people who park in handicap lots.
“This was an incident where I went gangster on a Singaporean couple who parked on a handicapped parking lot and tried to worm their way out with dumb excuses, ” he said in a Facebook post accompanying the clips.
This is how the incident, which took place at Machap rest stop in Johor on the North-South Highway, played out based on his videos, Facebook posts and what he told The Straits Times on Wednesday.
Naren said he “deliberately blocked” the couple’s car, then waited for them for 45 minutes.
When the Singaporean couple returned, there were two vehicles blocking its exit: Naren’s truck and a motorcycle. They asked Naren for his help to remove the two-wheeler but the latter refused.
The couple then attempted to reverse it out of the lot anyway, knocking into Naren’s truck in the process.
“That kind of added fuel to my fire,” he said, adding that he had finished a long day of work, and was feeling irritable.
“Very tired and extremely irritable I wanted them to feel what it was like having to wait just like how a disabled person would have felt.”
In the videos, Naren is seen confronting the couple. They apologised to Naren repeatedly, and the woman said they did not see the signboard indicating that the lot they were parked in was reserved for the handicapped.
“Rubbish! So big there you cannot see the signboard ah?!” Naren exclaimed.
He also said he was “sick and tired” of “irresponsible” people like them.
“Now you say you are very sorry… because I am here, big, tall, shouting at you – you scared, you don’t know what to say. Because handicapped people cannot fight for their rights.”
The couple offered to help Naren repair his truck, but he asked how they were going to do that, given that he is from Shah Alam in Selangor and they were from Singapore.
After some discussion, Naren told them to donate the RM1,000 which they offered as compensation to a charitable organisation for the handicapped.
The Singaporean man promised to do so, and to send the receipt for the donation to Naren.
Naren then passed the Singaporean man his namecard.
In the comments following one of the videos, Naren said that the incident happened nearly seven months ago at the Machap rest stop in Johor on the North-South Highway.
In a later comment he said: “This happened almost a year ago. I decided to post it because the guy did not keep his word to donate the money to a handicap organization.”
One Facebook user commented that Naren could have brought the couple to the attention of the rest stop management centre.
Naren replied that the centre was closed so he did what he could at the time, which was to let the couple know such behaviour was not acceptable.
The majority of netizens who commented supported his actions, but some said Naren over-reacted to the situation.
Netizen Nadeera Vasu commented: “I agree! We need voices like him… It’s time people realised the seriousness of this issue. It’s not only accessible parking that is an issue in this country. Everything pertaining to accessibility for the physically challenged is abused by very able-bodied people ALL THE TIME!!!”
Another appreciative netizen, Ahmad Kerp Daniel, said: “Thanks bro. Being a wheelchair user it can be very very frustrating to see our rights being robbed on daily basis but these mother-parkers just couldn’t bother because they don’t feel our hardship. So such tough action is a real welcome.”
Netizen Jing Ling, who disagreed with his actions, wrote: “He stand for right is good, but why…people already say so many times sorry, he still want to make the news big?”
A few accused him of intimidating others and being a bully.
The videos have been shared on various Malaysia and Singapore websites, including Stomp.
Stomp reader Brown Bess commented: “Agree, the Singaporean couple should not have occupied the handicap parking lot and show disrespect as a visitor to another country. Deserves an earful from the guy and the people there. But there is a limit to everything and he behaved like a bully and a show off!”
Speaking to The Straits Times on Wednesday, Naren said, “If I said, ‘don’t park there lah’, what would be the outcome? Just because of this one video, something has happened.”
Besides, he has implicated himself as well, he said.
“I have also subjected myself to insults, harsh comments, even from my friends. But it’s worth it to get the message across to many people like this.”
Naren is the administrator of the Champion4 Disability Facebook page, which he created in March.
He said in another post: “This page has been created because I am sick and tired of insensitive people who do not have even the slightest sense of responsibility in protecting the disabled in Malaysia.”
Many people have posted photos of other cars illegally parked in handicap lots in Malaysia on the page. Not only does it identify the cars and where they were parked, Naren also approaches the malls where the photos were taken and asks them to take action.
“I personally have a few friends who are disabled, and seen how much they suffer when these facilities are not available to them.”
Earlier, when he encountered such errant drivers, he would question them and ask them to move their cars.
If the incident ocurred in one of the malls near his residence, he would take a photo of the parking violation, and report them to the mall security office.
In a few instances, the mall clamped the wheels of the car, he said. But many people try to justify their actions, or simply ignored him, he said.
In one case, an elderly driver pulled up his pants and showed him a band aid, to justify parking in the handicap lot, Naren recalled. â€“ The Straits Times/Asia News Network