Tourists taking advantage of soup kitchens to get free food, says minister


(TMI) – Tourists are also taking advantage of soup kitchens in the city, said Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim in defence of the proposal to move soup kitchens away from the city centre in a bid to rid the streets of Kuala Lumpur of the homeless and beggars.

The Women, Family and Community Development minister said that the feeding of the poor and the homeless by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has attracted the attention of others who have taken advantage of the situation to get free food.

“Sometimes, tourists too, line up (to get food) because they don’t know. They think Malaysia is so generous in giving food to everyone.

“So I suggest we don’t stop them (NGOs), but prepare an institution for them to prepare other services to the homeless,” she said at a press conference in Putrajaya today.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor caused a controversy after announcing that soup kitchens in the city would be fined if they do not move out of Kuala Lumpur by today.

He said this was in line with Putrajaya’s plan to remove the homeless from Kuala Lumpur’s streets and added that NGOs were prohibited from feeding the homeless within a 2km-radius of the city centre’s iconic Lot 10 shopping complex.

Elaborating on Tengku Adnan’s statement, Rohani said there was a misunderstanding as the former had not clearly clarified the matter.

She said Tengku Adnan had only wanted to prevent the homeless from prowling the sidewalks besides preventing diseases as it also involved cleanliness issues.

“Ku Nan (Tengku Adnan) had said radius, that means you can still give food but in a different location. But he also did not reveal that he had identified shelters for these people.

“This was just a misunderstanding and I hope that this can be rectified,” she added.

The ministry’s statistics show that there were 1,560 homeless people on record from 2011 until 2014 and 735 of them have managed to find jobs.

The crackdown on the homeless, through Ops Qaseh, would be done to place the homeless in shelters and welfare homes.

It was reported that Ops Qaseh would be carried out in the city centre from this month, but Rohani refused to divulge specific details, for fear that the homeless would hide.

This is different with the Anjung Singgah concept, where the homeless were given shelter for about two weeks only and were also given counselling, food and job opportunities.

“If they are left to their own devices, it would be dangerous, but to institutionalise them is the last resort,” Rohani added.