NO mercy for syndicates that use children to beg, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh has warned.
“If the public is approached by child beggars or performers seeking alms by the roadside, in restaurants or in front of houses of worship, don’t give them any money,” she said when answering a question raised by Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh (PH-Ledang).
Instead, Yeoh advised the public to report the matter to the ministry’s 24-hour hotline at 15999, under which welfare officers will be sent to rescue the children.
She said those guilty of exploiting children for begging can face up to RM20,000 in fines or five years’ jail or both upon conviction under Section 32 of the Child Act.
Yeoh also urged the public to refrain from buying items sold by children used by NGOs to seek alms.
On the homeless, Yeoh said 6,936 individuals were given temporary lodgings at five Anjung Singgah shelters since they were set up in 2011.
Of this, she said 5,022 managed to find jobs after receiving counselling and assistance at the shelter.
To a question from Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian), Yeoh said it is impossible to achieve zero homeless folk in Kuala Lumpur.
The minister added that 799 homeless people were rescued from several locations in the city last year.
Since January, 67 homeless individuals have sought temporary accommodation at the Anjung Singgah shelter in Kuala Lumpur, she added.
“Of the number, 38 found jobs and became self-sustaining,” said Yeoh.