Spare a thought for the homeless

IN Kuala Lumpur, studies by the City Hall have seen the number of homeless people fluctuate over time, with 1,387 recorded in 2010, 600 in 2014, up to 2,000 in 2016 and 1,037 in 2017 (Source: Wiki Impact at

And 90% of them are Malaysian citizens with a majority being male, over 50 years old and in poor health. It is therefore a misperception that homelessness in cities relates to foreign beggars and undocumented persons only.

The reasons they cited for living on the streets include unemployment, domestic abuse, family rejection (due to being drug users, for example) and poverty.

Homelessness is a sad story of the local urban poor who are displaced and marginalised due to lack of access to housing and other basic needs.

It is a socioeconomic problem that requires poverty eradication programmes similar to those that are being implemented for the rural poor.

An unpalatable truth is that the number of homeless people in urban areas may now be higher as the nation is still recovering from the economic slowdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and also the higher cost of living.

The government needs to formulate a holistic plan of action to resolve homelessness and eradicate urban poverty.

This entails a review of the Destitute Persons Act 1977, which aims “to provide for the care and rehabilitation of destitute persons and for the control of vagrancy.”

Any poverty eradication programme for the homeless must incorporate productive welfare as an integral component in order to help them get jobs and become self-reliant rather than be dependent on welfare aid or charity.

The government needs to collaborate with NGOs, charitable organisations and individuals who have grassroots experience and knowledge of the homeless to spearhead productive welfare programmes.

Non-profit organisations like Kechara Soup Kitchen and Batik Boutique have shown that solutions to many social issues are being developed every day at the grassroots level.

A random act of kindness from the public, charitable and other non-governmental organisations (NGO) gives the homeless hope as they face their daily struggles.

These compassionate and dedicated people are unsung heroes doing extraordinary deeds as they provide free meals and medical treatment as well as impart skills and knowledge on hygienic living to the homeless.

But their capacity to do more is limited by financial resources, so let us be generous and donate to them to support their good cause, especially during festive occasions such as Chinese New Year.

No amount is too small to give, as Mother Theresa once said: “It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”

I would like to take this opportunity to wish the Chinese community Gong Xi Fai Cai, and to those who are not celebrating CNY, Happy Holidays!


Tumpat, Kelantan

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letters , homeless , urban poverty


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