KLANG: Generous Malaysians fish out from their pockets an average of RM5 per person when approached by beggars, and this has driven many, especially foreigners, to not stop soliciting for cash on the streets.
This has resulted in a higher number of foreign beggars compared to locals, said the Selangor Welfare Department.
From Jan to Aug this year, 130 foreigners, including 56 children, were picked up from the streets in the state.
The numbers are about four times higher than local beggars, which come to 29 adults and 12 children, in the same period.
Topping the list of foreign beggars are Myanmars, who are mostly United Nations High Commissioner for Refugess (UNHCR) card holders, at 87, followed by Cambodians at 31, and Thais at 30.
Department deputy director Wan Zarina Wan Salleh said Myanmars, for example, come out to beg because UNHCR card holders are not allowed to work in Malaysia.
“They can’t have a job and so have no income. They have to come out to beg so that they are able to get their daily basic necessities. We have to discuss with the UNHCR how can we resolve this issue because this involves certain policies,” she said today.
Zarina said this when met after launching the Selangor-level anti-beggars campaign called ‘Bijak Memberi Elak Tertipu’, which aims to educate and create awareness for the public to channel funds or donations through proper platforms, and not to be influenced or get cheated by the tricks of beggars.
Zarina feels that local beggars resort to begging because they are simply too lazy to get a job, despite the many opportunities available and lack initiative to make positive progress in their lives.
Kind-hearted Malaysians who have no qualms over parting with their money have somehow dampened the department’s mission to make Selangor a beggar-free state.
“It is our culture to love giving, and we have a high level of sympathy for those in need. This positive trait of ours, however, has a negative effect, as this has encouraged more people to become beggars. There are beggars who are able to gain hundreds of ringgit in a day.
“We are conducting 50 operations monthly and till Aug, a total of 418 raids were carried out to eradicate begging activities. The public could help us in reducing the number of beggars by channelling funds legitimately.
“The public can check with the Selangor state religious department or the police on the list of welfare organisations that need contributions from the people. This ensures that the funds given are channelled to the right parties,” she said.