KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — Soup kitchens in the capital city say they won’t abandon the Kuala Lumpur’s homeless and are ready to defy a minister’s order to move out by Monday.
The kitchens, run by NGOs, do not get public funding and say they provide service that is desperately needed.
“Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur believes that the Federal Territories minister and DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall) have no right to determine the distance or area that can be used by whichever organisation to give free food because our activities do not use funds from the ministry or DBKL,” Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur said in a statement today.
“So we have the right to determine the venue for our activities,” the group added.
Tengku Adnan said earlier today that soup kitchens will be fined if they do not move out of Kuala Lumpur by Monday, as the government is seeking to remove homeless people from the streets in a campaign by the Women, Family and Community Development Minister dubbed “Ops Qaseh”.
He said NGOs were prohibited from feeding the homeless within a 2km-radius around shopping mall Lot 10 in the Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle business hub.
The minister, who is also Umno secretary-general, further claimed that soup kitchens were dirty, drawing rodents that spread diseases like Leptospirosis, and dengue.
Tengku Adnan said the homeless could go to temples and mosques outside Kuala Lumpur if they wished to get food, adding that those who donate to beggars in the capital city would also be fined.
Pertiwi soup kitchen founder Munirah Hamid said the organisation would continue feeding the homeless throughout the city.
“Stop hitting out at people who have so little,” Munirah told The Malay Mail Online.
“If the country was better managed, we can have better facilities for the poor...cut out overseas trips for conferences which are not important. And stop flying first-class,” she added.
Munirah said the homeless are likely to remain in the city despite any government crackdown as they have been here for generations.
The crackdown will simply force them to hide, she added.
“Because they're happier, they're well-fed, they don't have to resort to crime. People who are well-fed are not angry people; it's only when you're hungry that you're angry,” she said.
Munirah also criticised Tengku Adnan for calling the homeless “lazy”, stressing that few had quit jobs prematurely, adding that many are physically unfit for work, elderly or sick.
“If he's against begging syndicates, go and address the beggars and syndicates. He's scared to touch those people because he's scared of the gangsters in the syndicates...that’s the real problem,” she said.
Prematilaka KD Serisena, vice-president of the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple, said the Brickfields temple would continue feeding the homeless on Sunday nights.
“What are you going to do with them? Let them die in hunger?”
“It's irrational. If he wants to eradicate the homeless, than he should be first ensuring that there are mechanisms in place to help the homeless,” he told The Malay Mail Online.