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Tengku Adnan told to walk the streets

 | July 3, 2014

NGO's slam the minister for wanting to close and criminalise soup kitchens and the destitute.

tengku adnanPETALING JAYA: Non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) said that the Minister of Federal Territories Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor should personally experience the situation of the hardcore poor and the homeless to understand their plight.

FMT contacted Reach Out run leader Oscar Ching who said that many of the homeless and hardcore poor did not have a choice, contrary to Adnan’s statement that they were taking advantage of the situation.

“Some of them come from Sabah or Sarawak to Kuala Lumpur to make a better life for their families but unfortunately their earnings cannot support the high costs in the city,” Oscar said.

“Most ministers just make a lot of noise in the media but they do not come down to the streets to experience the situation.”
The founder of Pertiwi Soup Kitchen Munirah Abdul Hamid was also critical of Adnan and said that he does not understand the difference between beggars, homeless and hardcore poor.

She emphasised that beggars which are under organised syndicates only look for money while the homeless and hardcore poor need and seek food and clothing.

“Why stop people from doing good? I wonder what Prophet Muhammad would say when he sees a poor person,” she lamented sadly.

Both NGO’s said that they will continue with their activities in helping out the homeless and hardcore poor despite the government’s threat to fine them.

“Find a logicial way to reduce the number of homeless and hardcore poor rather than stopping us from helping them,” said Ching.

They are not criminals

Lawyers for Liberty in a statement released today said they were appalled with “Adnan Mansor’s ill-conceived and heavy-handed plan to crackdown and clear Kuala Lumpur of the destitute and homeless by criminalising begging and even those who sought to help them”.

“The desire to rid the destitute and homeless and even soup kitchens from Kuala Lumpur is outrageous and superficial as it fails to take into account the real human lives that will be affected and the root cause of homelessness and begging which is varied and complex.”

“Soup kitchens and those providing aid to the destitute and homeless exist to compensate for the lack of social support that should be the responsibility of the state.”

“Penalising, arresting and hiding destitute and homeless persons from public view will not resolve anything but will have the opposite effect and worsen their very real day to day life struggles.”

“To pave the way to a more inclusive society, the state should pursue a more viable and long term solution to include resolving their personal issues (lack of identity documents, addiction, family problems, etc.) and provide affordable basic needs like food, healthcare, housing, employment, skills and training,” their statement highlighted.

“We wish to remind Adnan that being destitute and homeless is not a crime, they are human beings with human rights and dignity.

“It would be a serious violation of their right to life and liberty if the authorities were to go ahead and criminalize their existence and way of life.”

“A more holistic, long term and compassionate approach must be taken rather than merely perceiving them as social ills that can only be resolved by criminal sanctions. There are no short cuts in resolving these issues.”

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