SEREMBAN - Being afflicted with polio at the tender age of three did not deter a young girl from going on to excel in her studies in architecture.
Now 52 and a lecturer at Universiti Malaya, Dr Naziaty Mohd Yaacob's commitment in her studies despite her disability earned her the Special Award (academic) in conjunction with the national-level celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities here.
"It's a privilege to be accorded this honour. I must admit that it was never easy being afflicted with polio but I am glad I persevered," she said after receiving her award from the Yang di-Pertuan Besar Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir on Wednesday.
Also present was his consort Tunku Ampuan Besar Tuanku Aishah Rohani Tengku Besar Mahmud.
A bright student in primary and secondary school, the Bentong-born eldest of three siblings earned a place at the prestigious Tunku Kurshiah College here before enrolling at Universiti Teknologi Mara and going on to complete her PhD in architecture at Britain's University of Salford.
"I had to rely on crutches for many years and in recent times, I was forced to use the wheelchair due to the nature of my job and my age," said Dr Naziaty, who had also received the Best Female Employee award in conjunction with Workers' Day in 2002 from then-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Two other disabled persons who also received special awards from Tuanku Muhriz were Mohd Sukur Ibrahim, 30, (entrepreneurship) and Mohammad Azlan Mat Lazin, 24, (sports).
Mohd Sukur, an IT graduate from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, runs his own company in office renovations.
Mohammad Azlan, who has autism, was honoured for bagging three gold medals at the recent Incheon Asian Paralympic Games.
Earlier, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said as of September, 506,228 disabled persons had registered with the authorities.
Of these, 182,055 suffer from learning disabilities, physical (166,206), hearing-impaired (59,868), vision-impaired (47,721), mentally-challenged (21,237), speech (3,792) and multiple categories (25,349).
The Government, she said, had adopted the New Asia and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities Declaration (2013-2022) as well as the Incheon Strategy: To Make the Right Deal for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific, in addition to its ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2010.
"The adoption of these declarations is a testament to the Government's continuous efforts to provide for the disabled and to ensure their active interaction with society," said Rohani, whose speech was read out by her deputy Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun.
Rohani said the Government would also increase the monthly allowances for the working disabled earning less than RM1,200 (S$460) from RM300 to RM350 while those unable to work would get RM200, an increase from RM150.