THIRTY-FIVE homeless people were picked up during a joint operation led by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
The three-hour enforcement exercise that began at midnight covered areas in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Pudu, Jalan Hang Kasturi and Medan Tuanku.
Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Jalaluddin Alias, who headed the operation, said those picked up --- all of whom were Malaysian men --- were sent for Covid-19 screening at a homeless centre in Medan Tuanku.
They all tested negative for the virus.
“Those who tested negative will be placed at the Anjung Kelana centre for the homeless in Taman Desa for three months.
“Here, they will receive training and taught skills by relevant departments to help them get back on their feet,” he said.
He added that illegal immigrants would be handed over to the relevant agencies for further action.
The police, alongside personnel from the Welfare Department, Immigration Department, National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) and Health Ministry took part in the operation, which was the fourth to be carried out this year.
Jalaluddin said there would be similar operations in the future to prevent an outbreak of Covid-19 in the capital.
“Actually, rounding up the homeless does not come under DBKL’s purview, but we consider this to be our social responsibility.
“There is a need to map out a long-term strategy to ensure that those rescued do not return to the streets,” he said, adding that some were not keen to stay at transit centres as they felt constrained by the rules at such facilities.
“They might also have become used to living on the streets.
“This is an issue we must address,” he highlighted.
Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Mahadi Che Ngah said DBKL had picked up over 380 homeless people so far this year, with the number decreasing during every operation.
“This could be a good sign compared to the numbers from our previous operations.
“Some of them have secured a job and now live independently,” he said.
Mahadi reminded non-governmental organisations distributing food to the homeless to do so at designated spots.
“This is to prevent food waste littering the streets, which can attract pests and pose a risk to public health,” he added.
Of the 35 homeless rounded up, 17 were sent to Anjung Kelana, while 14 were handed over to Kuala Lumpur Health Department to undergo mental and physical health tests.
Another four, who tested positive for drugs, were handed over to AADK.