KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — Visually-impaired Stevens Chan was surprised when taxi driver Mohd Kamil Affendy Hashim recently posted on his Facebook page that he was willing to ferry guide dogs in his vehicle.
“I ‘saw’ his Facebook comment with the text-to-voice software and I was touched at his reaction but it is too bad that I haven’t gotten in touch with him yet.
“It is very nice that someone is offering his service to ferry people with guide dogs,” said the star of the video that has gone viral, “Are You Blind?”.
The video was what inspired Mohd Kamil to write on his Facebook wall that he wanted to help the visually-impaired.
Chan, who is also founder of Dialogue in the Dark Malaysia, believed that with Mohd Kamil boldly stepping forward, others may join in.
“All it takes is some support and a momentum can be created,” he said.
Mohd Kamil or better known as Eddie, posted on his Facebook page that he did not mind taking passengers with guide dogs which instantaneously won the admiration of many.
But Mohd Kamil, who started driving his taxi in 2008, is no stranger to dogs, having transported them in his reliable Proton Persona.
“I got several calls after declaring I support any person using guide dogs and thankfully those who called had positive things to say,” said the 32-year-old.
“People need to understand there are many ways to handle dogs rather than running away from them.”
Other people who saw his pledge were moved and supported his comments.
Facebook user Dimple Gamgee commented that he gave hope to other people.
“I have to salute you sir. You have shown there is hope in humanity after all. May God Bless you with all the good things this world can offer,” he posted.
Other Facebook users like Mike Yeap and Christian Trevor also applauded Eddie’s pledge.
The video, which Mohd Kamil shared on his Facebook wall along with the comment, is about the troubles Chan and his guide dog Lashawn endure in travelling in and around the city. Chan and his faithful Labrador, who is Malaysia’s first guide dog, were even asked to leave a shopping mall in Bukit Bintang.
Malay Mail, had in May, conducted a similar exercise as our reporters joined Chan and Lashawn and saw first hand how difficult it was to stop a bus or cab and walk in malls.
Mohd Kamil said he was not afraid of dogs as his mother once told him to help a stray dog that lay in the middle of the road after being hit by a car.
“It started in 2010 when I was sending mum to the airport for Umrah and then she saw a dog lying on the road helpless.
“She suggested that we help and I carried the dog to the side of the road and contacted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,” he said.
His view on dogs changed since then.
“Muslim passengers need not worry because I cover my seats with newspapers and clean it with a lint remover once the dog and its owner get off,” he said.
“I was initially worried what the community will say if they found out. So I kept quiet about what I did. But I believe there is nothing wrong to help those in need.”
Mohd Kamil said there was no policy stating a taxi driver cannot carry animals. He had even consulted other Muslim taxi drivers regarding this matter.
Land Public Transport Commission chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar previously said there should not be a problem allowing guide dogs to assist the disabled in using public transportation, as well as in public places.
“Most of the other Muslim taxi drivers I talked to were also receptive to ferrying animals including dogs but they rarely talk about it fearing negative reaction from the community,” Mohd Kamil said.