Beggars at busy traffic light junctions stir public annoyance


Traffic hazard: A beggar on crutches going from vehicle to vehicle peddling pens to motorists at the traffic light exit to Bukit Raja, about 250m from the Sungai Rasau toll plaza in Selangor. –SHAHRUL FAZRY ISMAIL/THE STAR

PETALING JAYA: Foreign beggars are cornering hapless motorists at busy traffic light junctions, causing uneasiness among Malaysians and invoking scenes straight out of impoverished countries.

They go after car drivers who stop at the red lights and approach them on the pretext of selling items like pens and tissue packets.

Their modus operandi differs from the “usual” beggars stationing themselves at places like pedestrian bridges and sidewalks.

Among their “hotspots” are the LDP-Motorola intersection, near the Sungai Rasau toll, and the intersection of Persiaran Bukit Raja in Klang and the intersection off the Federal Highway towards Jalan Utara.

Public annoyance was reflected in letters to The Star, complaining that these beggars gave the country a bad image.

One reader cited the case of a beggar on crutches going from car to car asking for money at the intersection into 1Utama shopping complex via LDP from Kepong/Sg Buloh.

He was also seen last week at Bukit Raja, Klang, about 250m from the Sungai Rasah toll plaza, peddling pens to motorists.

Despite his disability, he could approach about a dozen vehicles before the traffic light turned green.

At the Persiaran Bukit Raja traffic intersection, a woman was also going from car to car selling packets of tissue paper.

When asked for its price, she looked confused and merely took RM1 before handing over the item.

A similar scene was seen at the traffic light intersection off Federal Highway towards Jalan Utara and at the LDP-Motorola intersection.

Federal CID director Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin said most foreign beggars in the Klang Valley were linked to syndicates.

“We have been monitoring such activities for some time.

“It is impossible for them to be operating alone. Most of their activities are carefully coordinated by the syndicates.”

He said many of the beggars came from China.

(There was also a report last year about bogus monks from China who “begged” here for a month before heading home.)

However, Comm Bakri did not think that such foreign beggars were victims of human trafficking.

He said police, through their Anti-Vice, Gambling and Secret Society Division, had been working with agencies such as the Immigration Department and city councils to get the beggars off the streets.

“We must send out a clear message that they are not welcome. They are preying on people's kindness for easy income,” he said.

MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong estimated that each beggar could earn between RM7,000 and RM10,000 a month.

Chong, who believed they were foreigners, said: “I have talked to them and they sounded different.”

He said some of the foreign beggars had complained to him that they were bullied by their syndicates who refused to give them their share of the “earnings”.

Last year, the Welfare Department rounded up 1,408 beggars.

Of the total, 318 were foreigners.

Between January and June this year, 504 beggars were rounded up, of which 119 were foreigners.

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