KUALA LUMPUR: The Welfare Department wants the public to stop giving donations directly to beggars. It plans to establish a new “mechanism” which will see public donations being disbursed to those in need through “proper channels”.
The department’s rehabilitation unit director Harun Mohd Isa said there was a need for such a mechanism as many people were exploiting public generosity to their advantage.
Complaints range from people posing as monks, the disabled and the poor to organised syndicates that use children to beg for money.
Harun said the department would consult religious groups and organisations on how such a mechanism should work.
“While donating to the needy is encouraged by most religions, questions remain as to how the donations should be handed out to deserving ones,” he said in an interview.
According to Islam, extending a helping hand is more noble than a receiving hand,” he said.
He said the department planned to introduce the concept this year and a campaign would be introduced to encourage the public to donate to the needy through it.
Harun declined to reveal more details of the proposal, saying there was a need to first consult the various religious bodies on their stands.
He also said there was a need for a firm and consistent position by relevant parties on the problem of begging.
“In the past, we have held discussions with the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim) about the matter particularly when Malaysia was organising international events.
“There will only be discussions when there are major events and there is a need to get beggars of the street, but when the events are over it will be forgotten,” he said
Asked about the problem of syndicated beggars in the country, he said the matter was a criminal offence under police jurisdiction.
“We cannot take action against these activities. People should lodge reports to the police. But then again when the public report the matter, the police treat it as a trivial case,” he said.
Harun also said the country’s sole beggar rehabilitation centre in Mersing, Johor was now overcrowded. He said there were now nearly 600 inmates when it was meant to house up to 450 at a time.
The department would appoint an independent party to conduct a survey on beggars soon.
“From the survey, we will be able to see how serious the situation is in the country.
“Then, we can formulate a draft proposal on how to resolve the problem more effectively,” he said.