PETALING JAYA: Netizens gave an overwhelming no to the move to stop soup kitchens in the Bukit Bintang area.
Heartless, inhumane and short-sighted, they said, of the proposal to stop Kuala Lumpur’s homeless from receiving free food.
This came about after Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said soup kitchens will no longer be allowed to operate
within a 2km radius of the city centre.
Netizens on Facebook decried the announcement, with hundreds giving the thumbs-up to Fendi Ahmad, who urged the authorities to focus on eradicating vice instead of curbing charitable activities.
“You should close all the pub/rumah urut (massage parlours)/rumah ayam (prostitution dens). Not soup kitchen la…” wrote Fendi.
Varian Especkerman issued a challenge with his bold question: “Who are you to stop me from feeding my brother?”
Tengku Adnan’s statement that soup kitchens encouraged homelessness and joblessness was dismissed by Lavinia Lo: “It's there to feed those who are unfortunate. It's just some people who will take advantage of the kindness to remain stagnant in their lives instead of making the effort to move on because hey, free food.”
On the claim that soup kitchens caused littering and encouraged scavenging, Alvin Kanniah called for compassionate policy-making decisions based on factual findings: “How convenient to pin "garbage-related problems in the city" on the homeless and jobless! I'm sure you've got data to support this right?”
Instead of penalising those who care about their fellow man, Rohaiza Basir wants the authorities to solve the homelessness problem, while Kah Yan urged the minister to volunteer with soup kitchens to fully understand their positive impact on the lives of the homeless.
“So that he can understand what is the purpose of soup kitchen in the city. It is more like a platform to communicate with the homeless and bring them back to the right track of their life, than just giving them food,” she added.
In Lindsay Smith’s view, every country in the developed world allowed the operation of soup kitchens: “Just because you hide it doesn't make the problem go away. Only employment and subsidised housing can do that.”
Jay Blanche termed the move shameful and short-sighted, especially during the charitable month of Ramadan: “Poverty and hunger are not crimes, but do lead to crime if you don't help those in need.”
Neither is such a ban a Malaysian way, said Parwaiz Win: “Where is the compassion? Eradicate the cause of beggars and homeless people, not hinder those who are giving them a helping hand.”
Many questioned what the Government had proposed to do to help those without a roof over their heads, with Lenny Roy and Yu Meng He wondering if the underprivileged would be provided with jobs and shelter.
A failure to provide the needy with sufficient help would be akin to “pouring chili to their pain,” said Chen Yean.
Though the move’s detractors greatly outnumbered its supporters, some netizens favoured the announcement.
“In a way, I do agree but our authorities needed to set up halfway house to help keep tab of these homeless,” said Johnny Lum.
Napsiah Wan Salleh hoped the ministry would not reverse gear on the tough measure: “Soup kitchens do encourage homeless by choice people. Malaysia imports foreign workers by the millions and still there are jobless Malaysians who rely on soup kitchen?”
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