A MAJORITY of the foreigners caught by the authorities for begging, will return to their old habit after laying off temporarily.
The Selangor Welfare Department said it was having a tough time dealing with beggars, particularly those given refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
An official for the department told StarMetro that they had apprehended the same individuals during different operations.
“As they were refugees, the department handed over the beggars, including children, to the UNHCR.
“Our observation revealed that almost all of the refugees caught for begging will return to their old habits,’’ he said.
The official added that this year as at August 31, 15 child beggars from Cambodia and six from Myanmar were apprehended by the authorities. Alarmingly, eight of them were aged two and below used by adult beggars to garner more sympathy.
Last year, 21 child beggars from Cambodia, 18 from Myanmar and six from Thailand – including 16 who were below two years old – were detained during enforcement rounds.
The beggars claim they had no choice but to beg on the streets as they had no other source of income.
“Begging has become a way of life for them and they are finding it hard to quit begging.
“They also said that they are unable to work because they are not educated and are not Malaysian citizens.
The official said a total of 80 foreign beggars below 17 years old had been arrested between January last year and August this year.
He said a majority of them were refugees based in Klang and Shah Alam.
“A total of 49 of them were caught last year and 31 this year from a series of raids,’’ he said in response to the article “Raised to be beggars” published by StarMetro yesterday.
It reported that the sight of children knocking on windows of cars stopped at traffic light junctions to beg for money was common on the streets near the North Klang bus terminal in Klang.
About 20 foreign child beggars were spotted along Jalan Pos, Jalan Raja Hassan and the Bulatan Seratus roundabout in Persiaran Sultan Ibrahim.
Some of the children could be spotted as early as 8am on weekdays while others would appear around noon. When StarMetro checked again yesterday, the foreign child beggars were not at their usual spots.
Taxi driver G. Manuel said the beggars who would normally be on the streets by 10am were noticeably absent yesterday.
“I think they have not come out to beg today to avoid being caught by the authorities,’’ he said.