PETALING JAYA: The German beggar Benjamin Holst is back in the country and has been spotted asking for money in Kuala Lumpur.
The 32-year-old left Malaysia for a holiday in Vietnam on March 15 but returned early this week.
He was spotted panhandling on Jalan Dewan Bahasa Pustaka this week.
Writer Adrian Lai, 28, told The Star Online Friday that he saw Holst asking for money from motorists who had stopped at a traffic light.
"He was walking from car to car with a paper cup, begging. People were winding down their car windows and generously donating to him," Lai said of his encounter with Holst at around noon Thursday.
"Drivers were even gesturing for him to come over so they could give him money."
Lai added that the situation caused congestion in the area and posed a safety hazard to other motorists.
"I wanted to go on my way when the traffic light turned green but several cars had stopped by the side of the road for him. One van abruptly swerved to the right lane to get to Holst."
Lai said he had seen Holst at the same spot on three consecutive days.
He said Malaysians were willingly donating to Holst because they empathised with his disability, but were not aware that the tourist uses the money to fund a lavish partying lifestyle.
Holst suffers from a rare form of localised gigantism called Macrodystrophia lipomatosa that has caused his left leg to be severely swollen.
According to criminal defence lawyer Farhan Read, Holst's panhandling is an offence under the Minor Offences Act.
"If convicted, he would be liable to the normal penalties under the Act. However he would not be automatically deported if found guilty. That is up to the discretion of the Director-General of Immigration," said Farhan.
When contacted, Kuala Lumpur CID chief Senior Asst Comm Rusdi Mohd Isa said police are looking into the issue.
The Star previously reported that Holst was seen around Kuala Lumpur and Penang early this month.
Known worldwide as a professional beggar, Holst travels around the world to beg, while uploading Facebook posts about staying in expensive hotels, drinking in bars and hiring prostitutes.
His exploits have caused him to be deported from Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.
According to his latest Facebook posts, Holst will be returning to Thailand after his "stint" in Malaysia.