Blind musicians barred

Source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/4/27/southneast/17539951&sec=southneast

Friday April 27, 2007

Blind musicians barred

By STEPHEN THEN

MIRI: A group of blind musicians claimed they have been prevented from earning a decent living when they were barred from sitting up outside the entrances of several major shopping centres and hotels here in the city.

Blind musician James Seling, who lives in the Tudan resettlement scheme 20km from the city, said security personnel from two major shopping cum hotel complexes had stopped him from performing near the entrances to their buildings.

Seling said he and a few other blind musicians would travel into the city by bus daily to sing and play organs and harmonicas at the side of streets and market places in the old part of Miri City.

Needing help: Lee (middle) having a discussion with blind musician James Seling (yellow shirt) and other blind folks in Miri recently.
They would venture to the modern shopping and hotel areas with the hope to get more money from the crowd there, he said.

Seling said however the management of the hotels and shopping complexes consider them as a nuisance and chased them away.

He said only one major supermarket in the outskirts of Miri City - EMart - had allotted them two stalls near the entrance of the building to play music and sing.

Seling and his fellow blind have appealed to Sarawak Assistant Minister for Infrastructure Development and Communications Lee Kim Shin to help them find proper long-term salaried-jobs so that they could earn a steady income to support their families.

We have school-going children to support. Our wifes stay at home to cook. Donations from the public during our music sessions are not enough to share among us.

It will be better if we can have steady jobs that can give us a fixed monthly income so that we can plan ahead to meet the increasing needs of our homes, said Seling, adding that the cost of living had increased a lot in Miri.

Lee, who is state assemblyman for Senadin, agreed that there was a need for the blind and handicapped to be given more opportunities to find steady jobs.

They have families who depend on them. Playing and singing in public places will not guarantee a fixed income. I will try to find them proper jobs that they can do, he said.