VAGRANTS, ENTREPRENEURS OR DESPERATE PEOPLE? LEGAL AND MEDIA DISCOURSE ON BLIND TISSUE SELLERS
Society tends to ascribe negative connotations toward blind people who receive their income primarily from selling tissue to the public in the streets, restaurants, and public markets. The perception of blind tissue sellers as beggars is conveyed through media and legal categorization of destitute people, which produce and reinforce the disabling cycle of marginalization onto these individuals in society. This article analyses selected Malaysian online newspapers concerning disabled tissue sellers and legal documents concerning destitution. The authors discuss the phenomenon within the framework human dignity, poverty, bio-politics philosophy, and decent work. The public and the government easily misunderstand the issues surrounding blind tissue sellers. The authors emphasize this social phenomenon as a symptom and outcome of continuous disablement in society caused by compromising the integrity of the desperate self, the pressure of neo-liberalized socio-cultural functioning and, the systemic and structural failures of society. The phenomenon perfectly exemplifies the neo-biopsychosocial interpretation of disability. There is an urgent need for the Malaysian government to take structural measures to increase blind people's opportunity to have gainful employment, decent work, and a social safety net.