KUALA LUMPUR: There are plans to review archaic laws against door-to-door begging, says Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh.
The review is aimed at groups claiming to help destitute children by canvassing for donations in the streets and door-to-door.
“At the moment, we have to look again at not only the Child Act but also other laws that are now outdated.
“These include Destitute Persons Act 1977 and House-to-House and Street Collection Act 1947,” she said when answering a supplementary question raised by Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said (BN-Kuala Krau) in Parliament Monday (April 8).
Yeoh said the provisions under the two archaic laws were insufficient to deal with door-to-door and street begging.
“When we go out on operations, in most cases, the best we can do is warn them not to do it again.
“They will then return to streets but at a different area to start it again,” she said.
She said the review will involve relevant bodies including the Home Ministry and Health Ministry.
Ismail asked if there were plans by the government to review the Child Act to increase penalties against those using children to beg, and whether those giving money to such beggars should also be penalised.
Yeoh told lawmakers that the Child Act, which was amended in 2016, had already increased penalties against those exploiting children for begging.
She said the maximum fine of RM5,000 and two years’ jail had been increased to a maximum fine of RM20,000 and five years’ jail for convicted offenders.
Earlier, Nor Azrina Surip (PH-Merbok) highlighted a case in Kedah where an orphanage was shut down after it was found to be a sham.
She said the home claimed to be seeking donations for 213 orphans when only 11 were actual orphans.
Yeoh advised members of the public to check the background of those seeking alms with her ministry or the relevant authorities before handing over money.