Backpacking ‘Western’ beggars new trend in KL

Benjamin-HolstPETALING JAYA: A growing trend is being seen on the streets of Kuala Lumpur with backpacking tourists begging for money, The New Straits Times reported.

There now seems to be “Western backpackers” who are asking for money from other tourists and Malaysians alike, to help fund their travels.

According to the daily, some who witnessed these “beg-packers”, said they could be seen in the heart of the city and in typical tourist areas, including Jalan Bukit Bintang and near KLCC.

“I have seen them trying to sell postcards and photos. I think it is fine if they genuinely run out of money and need some cash to go back home, but not to fund their travels,” NST quoted a street artist, who only identified himself as Wan.

Some of these westerners were also spotted asking for money along the KL Pedestrian Walkway that connects KLCC to The Pavilion in Jalan Bukit Bintang, with various connections along the way to hotels and office buildings.

A guard who patrols the walkway said he had chased away foreigners begging in the area on several occasions.

The issue of a Westerner begging first came to light after a German named Benjamin Holst, who has a rare disease macrodystrophia lipomatosa that causes severe swelling of the leg, was seen using his condition to solicit funds from strangers and road users, near Jalan Dewan Bahasa Pustaka.

He had reportedly travelled to other countries in the region and done the same.

However, he angered people on social media and was even kicked out of Thailand, after posting photos of him staying in expensive hotels, drinking in bars and hiring prostitutes, instead of using the money to buy a ticket home to Germany, as he had claimed he would do with the money people donated.