Ras Adiba Conferred Honorary DegreeWebmaster
“It wasn’t easy when I became disabled. I faced a lot of discrimination. I didn’t have a job. People didn’t want to give me a job. People’s perceptions towards persons with disabilities (PWDs) was hard; it’s still hard now. But slowly we are working towards empowering our community and having people know how best to support those with the 7 categories of disabilities in our country.”
These were the heartfelt words of Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Mohd Radzi, after she was conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Social Sciences and Humanities at a Special Convocation on 16 November.
Her opening words had the audience roaring with laughter – “Yesterday, I asked my husband whether I should prepare a speech and he said, no, if you did then you would talk like you were in Parliament.”
So this veteran newscaster wowed the audience with a raw account of her life’s journey after being declared partially paralysed in 2002.
“When I became disabled, a doctor told me, do a checklist of what you want in your life,” Ras Adiba said, revealing an intriguing list – marry someone who can cook, have children, become a paralympic athlete, serve as a spokesperson for PWDs, and continue reading the news – all of which she achieved.
Her inner strength shone through as she added, “People ask me how I managed to pull through in life. I said, very easy, I am my own best friend. Only I can push myself and only I can work towards where I want to go.”
She went on to win 7 gold medals at the National Paralympic Games and score 2 significant appointments in 2020 – as a Senator representing PWDs and as the first female chairperson of national news agency BERNAMA.
“OUM greatly appreciates the major contributions made by Datuk Ras Adiba in championing the rights of PWDs,” noted President/Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Ahmad Awang Izanee. “In almost all 26 of the Convocations which have been held by the University, there have been disabled graduates. Their success bears testimony to OUM’s concern for learners with disabilities and its capabilities to cater to them.”
Meanwhile, Chancellor Tun Jeanne Abdullah provided food for thought. “The prevailing tendency is to view disability as a tragedy. PWDs are viewed as unfortunate, lesser beings who require charity. However, their achievements in different fields have shown that they too have hopes, dreams and goals, and they too can work just as hard as everyone else to achieve them.”