Here’s another saddening story of our former top athlete, who was now left to sell tissue covers on the roadside to survive, despite bringing glory to Malaysia.
The athlete was discovered by Twitter user @fxwxb and he had documented his meeting with her and her heartbreaking story in a thread.
While he was on the streets, he said he first notice the recognisable ‘Harimau Malaya’ polo shirt that all national athletes wear. The person was also holding a battered newspaper clipping of herself, with the headline reading “Former OKU Paralympic Swimmer Scorned”.
The person then approached the netizen and introduced herself as Koh Lee Peng from Penang and claimed that she was not ashamed of her current job that sells tissue cover and said he can go look her up on YouTube.
Koh Lee Peng was once Malaysia’s top Paralympic athlete and she represented the country in swimming, winning 7 gold and 3 silver at the Asean Para Games from 2001 to 2005.
The YouTube video turns out to be a story of her getting to the press, saying she was heavily scorned while selling tissue packets in her hometown Penang.
According to Berita Harian, she had been insulted and ignored when she was selling tissue packets in Bukit Mertajam, with locals calling her ‘part of a syndicate’ or claiming she was an illegal foreigner from Vietnam, Thailand, or the Philippines.
Koh is confined to a wheelchair and cannot use both legs. She also revealed that she had an office job previously, but the workplace was located in a building without a lift, making her daily life extremely difficult.
This then leaves her with no choice but to turn to the street to earn a living.
In 2019, after her making it to the national news, she and fellow Paralympians were awarded cash aid and a token monthly allowance of RM300.
However, Koh’s story is not uncommon and a Vice documentary in April 2021 showed how retired Paralympians are treated in Malaysia, at the same time, attracting huge criticisms from Malaysians.
Despite the calls for changes in the policy, the matter was not given enough emphasis, and Malaysia’s former Paralympians are continued to be forgotten.
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