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Monday, 14 July 2014

Mathew's beggar's life over

Home at last: Omar welcoming Raweng on his arrival at the Sibu Airport.

Home at last: Omar welcoming Raweng on his arrival at the Sibu Airport.

SIBU: Penniless and homeless, Mathew Raweng, from Song has been begging in the streets of Kuala Lumpur for the past two months until he was rescued by a businessman from Kuching.

Karim Abdul Rahman, the director of Syarikat Akar Bumi, a company based in Kuching, was walking along a street in Brickfield, Kuala Lumpur in the early morning of last Thursday when Mathew asked him for money.

After a brief conversation, Karim was shocked to find out that Mathew is actually from the state.

Concerned about Mathew’s wellbeing, Karim booked an air ticket for him to fly home.

He also gave him RM100. Not only that Karim also sent him to the airport and only left when the plane had departed for Sibu.

Mathew’s flight touched down at the Sibu Airport from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 10.40am on Saturday.

Karim’s teacher friend, Omar Levis, was there to receive Mathew. He was accompanied by another businessman, Wong Kai Ping.

Speaking to The Star, Mathew thanked Karim, saying he came to his assistance when the local authorities there were on their rounds to get vagrants out of the streets.

An illiterate, as he did not even have primary school education, Mathew, 29, recalled that sometime in 2000, he and three others from his longhouse in Song were recruited by an employment agency to work in Kuala Lumpur.

“We were promised a good job with good income. I ended up working in a coffeeshop washing plates. My last drawn salary was RM950 a month. However, I was forced to quit as the environment there was not conducive at all. My boss’ wife was very demanding. She was always nagging and shouting, sometimes for no apparent reason,” he said.

He also recalled that in the initial stage, he had to pay RM650 for three months to the employment agency.

With a starting pay of just RM400, he struggled to pay his ‘debt.’

The moment he quit the job, wearing only a T-shirt and knee-length short, he went round frantically searching for work.

But soon he found out that all his efforts ended in despair and misery.

“All the people I approached did not want to hire me. They said bluntly to me that I was too dishevelled,” he said.

Unwanted and homeless, the street was his only home. “The money that I got from begging was only enough for me to buy drink and cigarette,” he said.

He said if Karim had not showed up that day, he would still be stranded in the city and begging.

“My parents passed away many years ago. I have two siblings but I have lost contact with them,” he added.

However, he remembered he has an aunt staying in Sibu Jaya. The address in his identity card is also that of his aunt’s.

Omar brought him to his aunt’s in his car. When they arrived there, his aunt did not show any excitement at first.

It was only after Mathew introduced himself to her that she was caught by surprise.

“I knew there is such a person, but I thought he had passed away many years ago as we had lost touch with him,” said the aunt, who introduced herself as Intau.

Mathew also related to The Star that there were some other Sarawakians living the life of a beggar in Kuala Lumpur.

Asked how he knew that, he said they spoke in Sarawak Malay.

Tags / Keywords: Sarawak , Family Community , beggar


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