Soup kitchens feeding tourists too, minister claims

KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — The city’s soup kitchens are not entirely fulfilling their purpose of feeding the homeless as even tourists are sneaking into their food queues for free meals, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said today.

She said it was pointless if the soup kitchens, currently operated by more than 12 non-governmental organisations in the city, are not serving the right target group.

“We are grateful for their concern to feed the homeless but I told them as well that sometimes when they do it on the streets, like not only the homeless but other people also join in... sometimes tourists are also in the line because they think Malaysians are so generous in feeding everyone,” she told reporters today.

“We don’t want to stop them from handing out food but we want to give them an institution so that they can do other services for the homeless,” said Rohani.

Rohani was responding to the outrage following Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor remarks last week that soup kitchens would be barred from operating within a 2km zone in the city centre as their operations are encouraging homelessness and reflected poorly on the image of the nation’s capital.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said soup kitchens are pointless if they do not serve the target group. She alleged tourists also sneak into food queues to get free food. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said soup kitchens are pointless if they do not serve the target group. She alleged tourists also sneak into food queues to get free food. — Picture by Choo Choy May

Tengku Adnan, who is also Umno secretary-general, said the areas where soup kitchens operate were dirty, attracted vermin that spread diseases like Leptospirosis, and dengue.

The ministry has since sought to contain the public relations damage by saying it is merely setting up a “one-stop centre” to combat vagrancy in Kuala Lumpur and it would be meeting the NGOs operating the soup kitchens sometime this week.

Rohani, however, said there was a “miscommunication” in Tengku Adnan’s remarks as the latter was also “identifying shelters” for the homeless.

“Tengku Adnan was just trying to say he wanted to place a radius so meaning to say that if they want feed they can carry on but change the location but he didn’t finish his statement,” she said.

Rohani added that director-general of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry will be sitting in the meeting between the soup kitchen operators and Tengku Adnan.