Pattaya’s Terminal 21 shopping mall and the driver of a luxury sedan have apologized to a disabled teenager who watched in horror as a mall security guard pulled her motorbike sidecar from a disabled-parking spot so a wealthy, able-bodied couple could park there.
Kamolphan Krarachapetch, a 17-year-old student at Redemptorist Technological College for Persons with Disabilities, said Feb. 21 that the woman driving the expensive sedan, a mall executive and the security guard contacted her to apologize for the incident, but only after she told her story in a video that went viral.
She had watched with three disabled friends from the third-floor food court as the guard removed her sidecar from the disabled spot and left it in the middle of the parking lot lane after the woman and another man strolled into the shopping mall unfettered.
She said she had advised the Terminal 21 parking lot attendant she was disabled and got permission to park in the spot reserved for the handicapped.
Kamolphan told her story in a 45-second video that quickly went viral on Facebook, with commenters raging about the preferential treatment the rich are given, pointing to numerous examples of owners of luxury sedans and imported sports cars being allowed to park wherever they want, legal or not.
As the scandal erupted, the unidentified man in the video contacted the mall and arranged a time to meet Kamolphan, but he never showed up.
The security guard, meanwhile, claimed that he didn’t intentionally leave the sidecar motorbike in the aisle, but forgot it when he had to rush back to his booth to take care of an incoming vehicle.
Kamolphan said that was a lie. The only other car moving in the lot was one blocked by her motorbike in the lane. A friend came down from the third floor to move it to safety.
“We were very disappointed and don’t want this incident to happen to other people with disabilities,” Kamolphan said, adding that she wants the Prime Minister’s Office to order the building of more disabled facilities across the country.
“We want everyone to understand that people with disabilities are humans with hearts just like you,” she said.
Udomchok Churath, director of Redemptorist Technological College, said many people don’t understand why parking spaces for the disabled are important. He explained they are closer to doors and are wider to accommodate wheelchairs.
He echoed the need for more accessible facilities and called on authorities to enforce disabled-parking laws, not just give them lip service.