Artiste-turned-vagabond Ben Nathan gets help

Policemen were seen taking Ben to Hospital Kuala Lumpur for treatment yesterday. ― Malay Mail pic
Policemen were seen taking Ben to Hospital Kuala Lumpur for treatment yesterday. ― Malay Mail pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Having spent much of his time roaming and sleeping on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Ben Nathan, 54, has been given a new lease of life.

And his family thanked Malay Mail for getting the '80s singer the help he needs.

The artiste-turned-vagabond had in the past resisted help from family and friends. Yesterday, however, he was persuaded to seek treatment at Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

Here’s what happened:

Tuesday — A video, showing a dishevelled Ben receiving ang pow from a stranger, went viral. It was highlighted on Malay Mail’s front page the following day.

Wednesday — Malay Mail reporter Murali Arumugam, tasked to locate Ben, spotted him in Brickfields. He alerted the family who advised Ben to seek help but he refused. He, however, promised to meet them the following day. Murali and Malay Mail photographer Hari Anggara stayed by Ben’s side throughout the night, not wanting to leave the singer out of their sight.

Thursday — With Ben still with him, Murali contacted Ben’s family who then called Yayasan Artis 1Malaysia (YA1M) president Datuk DJ Dave. Dave, joined by Social Welfare Department personnel and Ben’s family, met Ben before sending him to Hospital Kuala Lumpur for treatment.

“For years we have been worried about Ben. We thank Malay Mail for helping us locate Ben and finally getting him off the streets,” said P. Vashanthi, 43, who rushed from Setapak to meet her brother in Brickfields.

“We don’t want him to be sleeping and walking in the streets anymore. I want my brother back.”

Added Ben's niece, S. Suguna, 33: “We appreciate the efforts by Malay Mail. Social media played a great role, too.

“I want my uncle to get proper treatment. We want him to lead a normal life again.”

Dave assured Ben he would get all the help he needed.

“We want to help you,” Dave told Ben. “You are my friend. I want you to get help.”

Dave and Ben’s family members spent close to 30 minutes coaxing him to seek treatment. A police patrol unit arrived and the policemen managed to get Ben into their vehicle to take him to the hospital.

Dave, Vashanthi and Suguna also went to the hospital.

Doctors said Ben would be kept at the hospital for observation for at least one week.

Vashanthi said they would wait for the full medical report before deciding what’s best for Ben.

“Right now, we are glad he will be taken care of. We will not see a messy and dirty Ben on the streets,” she said.

“We will follow the advice of the doctors and the authorities. They know best and we just want the best for Ben.”

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