#IntiFmidol: Peter Gabriel Tan

Evanna Phoon

#IntiFMIdol is a project initiated by FounderMethod to promote 15 physically challenged entrepreneurs in Malaysia & is 100% a Malaysian Made Production by 70 Gen Ys from Inti Diploma of Mass Communication

As a proud Malaysian, I hope you can make full use of #IntiFMIdol Stories as your motivational communication to your sales force, staffs, colleagues, friends & loved ones. Thank You in Advance ....

Evanna Phoon, www.FounderMethod.com

Click on Above to share #IntiFMIdol Story of Peter Gabriel Tan 

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Here is the story of #IntiFMIdol Peter Gabriel Tan - A journey of faith

Peter was only eighteen when he had to sit on a wheelchair. His parents were the one who helped him out during his difficult times. Each of them had fulfilled their responsibility as parents to help him especially with moving him from the bed to the wheelchair and then to the car. No complaints were made because it is all for love to Peter.

Tony Fernandes with Peter

Going to school was out of the question. It was completely difficult for him to do so because nobody was able to push him around not even himself as he was not use to pushing the wheels by himself. He needed his parents’ help because they are now his backbone. All he did was visiting the physiotherapy and medical appointments.

Growing up in a loving family, he was the only child in the family. Sometimes, life is such that one accident might change your life forever. This was what happened to Peter.

One day at the age of eighteen, Peter went for a dive into the pool just like any other normal day. But that day was different, he suffered from a spinal cord injury after diving into the pool head first which resulted in his head hitting at the bottom of the pool hardly breaking his neck which made him unconscious after that. He had no control of his limbs from then onwards. The after effect has affected his spinal cord, muscles all over his body and nerve system in which caused him to be paralyzed right away.

He was rushed to the hospital right after falling unconscious. After removing some bone fragments from his neck, he manages to regain some movements in his limbs. He had been staying in the ward to be scrutinized over by the doctors for quite some time and after that, he was only allowed to be released after two months.

We were eager to meet Peter, the man himself to do an interview at the Curve in Secret Recipe. We wanted to find out more about his story and we were nervous as well. While waiting for his arrival, we continued to set up our equipment and other necessities before he arrives. After waiting for a few moments, he finally arrived.

Looking humble, polite and neat wearing a red collar checked shirt with a long black pant ready for an interview that was scheduled earlier via email was a man who was wheeled into the shop that was set prior before the interview by a woman who seem to be his wife.

After he was wheeled near the empty space for his wheelchair, we shook hands with him. We proceed to introduce ourselves after that. He gave us a warm but shy smile.

The man who is sitting in front of us is non-other than Peter Gabriel Tan, who is currently a principal trainer at his own company specialising in Disability Equality Training also a columnist of Breaking Barriers in The Borneo Post.

Peter Gabriel Tan

Peter who is born in Penang in the year 1966 moved to Kuala Lumpur in 2006 after meeting his wife, Wuan and they settled down after that. He has long been residing for 8 years in the Klang Valley now.

“Spinal cord injury robbed me of more than the ability to walk and use my hands. I also lost the sense of touch and temperature below my chest, and voluntary bodily functions like urination and defecation, I lost the ability to look after myself. My mother stepped in to become my hands and legs, and more," Peter explained.

Despite having to accept their son’s condition, he continued further saying that his parents tried non-stop looking cures for him after he became paralyzed. There were also the occasional jaunts to consult traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and mediums.

“My father was desperate to find a cure for me as the years wore on. Those that he sought were generous with their guarantees,” he told when asked.

They assured him that they could make him walk again after undergoing treatments that cost thousands of ringgit. None showed any result. It was pointless.

“Apart from going for follow-up treatments at the hospital, my parents also consulted Chinese physicians and even mediums in the hope of finding a cure for me. They often came back with packets of herbs wrapped in pink paper,” he remembered.

His mother was the one who took care of him the most. She was there with him for three months in the hospital. It was there he was diagnosed from two chronic wounds -bedsore on the tailbone and an infected scrotum that needs an incision to remove all the pus away. His mother continued to take good care of him after he was discharged from the hospital. She clean and dress up the wounds until it was healed.

Peter recuperating at the Kuala Lumpur hospital following his spinal surgery in 1984. His loving mother, attended to his every need back then.

“My parents made sure I was never in need. All aspects of my life were taken care of. They made all the decisions for me, from the important to the mundane. I became increasingly complacent, and comfortable, in the cocoon that they built around me. On most days, other than exercising, I ate, slept and watched television,” Peter continued.

“Despite that, I was expecting to recover fully and get back on my feet to start life afresh. Moving on with life is all I need because the past cannot be undo and all I can do is to manage whatever I can,” Peter said.

He experienced many difficulties after being paralyzed especially to the incontinence with limited public facilities for the disables and it became one of the most ostensible obstacles for him.

When asked about his achievement in any sports back he was in high school even way before he was involved in the incident, the “Penang-ite” said that he was once very active in sports and he became an athlete representing his school in the sprinter team running for 100 and 200 m.

Peter continued further when asked about his ambition when he was young saying he didn't have any ambition at that time because all he wanted was to have fun. His father especially wanted him to become an engineer so that he could take care of him.

“I could have become an engineer like what my father wanted me to. I could have become a politician. I could have turned to crime. I could be very dead by now. But that is not important anymore. I cannot turn back the clock and change that anyway,” he commented.

“Life is too short to be wondering what could have been done,” he stated and instead he reflect on what he has done and what he can be.

Tony Fernandes with Peter

In 2005, Peter received his first independent learning training in Disable Equality Training (DET )which focuses on helping disabled people to understand why are they in their current state, what must they do to handle their situation, get education so that they can be more productive and can become more valuable assets just like anybody else. This is actually no easy task for the beginners to understand their situation because it took Peter for 5 years in order for him to understand why is he in the current state and how he managed to get a grip and face reality.

DET was in the late 1980s which is widely used in the public and private sectors in the United Kingdom to address the need for information on disability and equality. This includes promoting disability as an equal opportunity issue, examining the barriers faced by disabled people in society, questioning stereotypes, myths and misconceptions about disability, promoting effective communication between disabled people and non-disabled people and promoting positive change both in policy and practice.

Peter continued saying that the Disability Equality Training is for everyone to join whether they are disable or non-disable. This is so that the non-disable will change in terms of their attitudinal in which how they perceived the disable by helping them to break these barriers. Before starting out his own company, he decided to create a blog of his own after facing so many difficulties because of his disability.

These obstacles motivated him to start writing about disability issues. Other than participating in the training, this is one of his hobbies during his free time. He started advocating equality through his blog called The Digital Awakening. In his blog, The Digital Awakening, it is mainly about disability issues and equality for all including the non-disables.

After understanding about his situation and know how to handle them, he decided to help the Disability Equality Training by expanding a little bigger to promote DET in a more professional way. What he did was he started his own Peter Tan Training Company as well as becoming a fellow trainer alongside with others on his own. Later on, Peter started organizing workshops named as Disability Equality Trainer in several countries such as Malaysia, Bangkok and Japan as the counselor for the Independent Living Program for People with Disability.

In October 2012, Peter collaborated alongside with Tena to organize the Rediscover Dream Program workshop, an initiative to grant wishes of incontinent individuals to help them find hope and continue living a fulfilled life. Tena is a Swedish-based brand of the SCA Group that specialises in products for adults with urinary or faces incontinence, such as pads and diapers.

The process of fulfilling these wishes are documented and then shared with the public through various social media channels. Through the workshop, Peter hopes that members of the public will understand the realities of living as a disabled person and the physical and attitudinal barriers they faced.

When asked about some of the activities that were usually done during the training session, the latter said that exercises were conducted during the 2 days training session. Their understandings about their condition are facilitated.

Peter giving a talk to fellow participants in his training session.

When asked about some of the activities that were usually done during the training session, the latter said that exercises were conducted during the 2 days training session. Their understandings about their condition are facilitated.

The Independent Living Program for People with Disabilities is a project, supported by the Malaysian Department of Social Welfare and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, to empower severely disabled persons to live independently in the community through self-respect, self-determination, and social reformation.

Peter took a break from blogging to take part in the AL-level TOT DET course that was held in Kuala Lumpur in January 2014. This was organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the welfare department. The 10 day course was tough compared to other trainings he has attended.

Peter (center) together with fellow Participants.

I had barely three hours of sleep every night because i needed to prepare for the sessions i was uncharged of. Teaching was tough but of course making sure the trainees really learn was even harder. That was the part that wore me and my fellow facilitators the most,” he said.

There were moments when my body and mind felt like giving up. I was pushed to my limits. In the end, I was happy to have hung on to conclude the course because I was able to learn the finer points of DET and the methods to deliver it efficiently, be it as trainers or facilitators,” he continued.

At this point, he is currently approaching to opening a center for the Independent Living Program (ILC) For People with Disability in Kuala Lumpur, which is yet to be built.

Basically, an ILC provides support required by disabled persons to live in the community instead of in institutions. This includes information provision, peer counselling, personal assistant service and independent living skills training.

Peter counseling helps a disabled person regain self-worth. Another disabled person qualified in peer counseling always conducts this on a one-to-one basis. It is the first and most important step in the process towards Independent Living,” Peter revealed.

Independent here does not mean that the disabled person has to live and do everything by himself. Where and when help is required, a personal assistant will provide the necessary support. This includes toileting, dressing up, cooking, feeding and even support in work if the disabled person is employed,” Peter explained.

The funds to employ personal assistants are usually provided by the federal, state or municipal governments. The number of hours of the service required is determined through consultations between the ILC and the disabled person. A severely disabled person may need 24-hour support while a moderately disabled person may only need a couple of hours.

Most severely disabled persons are totally dependent on their families in every aspect of their lives. Perhaps, the most worrying issue that is seldom voiced out is what will happen to them when their sole careers, who are usually their mothers, pass away.

The role of providing for a disabled person should not rest solely on the parents or siblings. There surely will be times when they are unable to take on this responsibility. Independent Living is crucial in liberating severely disabled persons in this aspect. They can move on with support from the ILCs and personal assistants.

The Independent Living Movement is rapidly spreading across Asia, thanks to the unrelenting effort of Shoji Nakanishi through the Disabled Peoples’ International Asia-Pacific Region and Asia-Pacific Network for Independent Living Centers. ILCs have been established in 11 countries in the past two decades.

He elaborated further saying that there is still a lot of work to be done in Malaysia. Many severely disabled persons are still unable to realize the Independent Living. There is a need to promote this movement throughout the country so that disabled persons understand the ways they can achieve self-determination and live with dignity.

The most important thing in life is to have faith. Having faith not only will help people who are in need or having difficulties in life to be able to take the next step but to move on as well. Faith was what Peter has during his difficult times which made him strong and because of that, he is who he is today. So whenever you’re about to give up, just remember to have faith in yourself. If he can go through this, so can you.

Business information of #IntiFMidol- Peter Gabriel Tan

Working Address: Independent Living Center Kuala Lumpur

Webpage: Http://www.petertan.com

Nature of Business: Principal Trainer specialising in Disability Equality Training and a speaker.

Blog: The Digital Awakening

Video Production & Article Write up by Group #7 Gen Y

Students of Group 7 with Peter Tan

-Aswary Sivanathan

-Jacyln Tang Li June

-Ting Zhen Hong

-Khanisha Hari Kharan

-Zee Zaki


Thoughts of Group #7 of #IntiFmidol Project

Most easy part for you in this project

- The easiest part for us is we gathered the information about Peter Gabriel Tan on internet webpage. We brainstorm the interview questions

Most tough part for you in this project

-At the beginning of this project we had a hard time in finding suitable interviewee. Especially when we have same thoughts and idea with other groups in the class because everything comes with a concept of first come first serves, in the matter of this we have to find a new interviewee instead of insist for the first employee that we found. With the help of my group mate we finally managed to find an interviewee who names Peter Gabriel Tan,  We faced difficulties in editing the background noise throughout the interview.

Your attitude before this project

-Agitated to meet him, feeling anxious when interviewing him,

Your attitude after this project

-Appreciate everything Peter did for the society and country by organizing Disabilities Equality Training program. We shouldn't humiliate disabilities authorities because they have the same right along with non- disabled people.

What we've learn from the disabled entrepreneurs that you can apply in your life

-Looking at Peter Gabriel Tan who manage to see things positively after the incident happened on him"Never think that you are disabled. Think always that you can do everything and then you will find that you will be able to do it. Be confident, maybe you have to try harder than other people so you will be stronger. Prove people wrong through your work'' has  motivated us not to give up and work harder to achieve our goal. Thanks  to this project #IntiFmidol, we were able to learn positive attitude which helps to move on in our life when we are facing obstacle.



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