Home Civil Society Voices 2014 Civil Society Voices Withdraw the ban on soup kitchens

Withdraw the ban on soup kitchens

Homeless people queue up at a soup kitchen in KL - File picture

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Ignoring the growing number of marginalised is not the solution, says Charles Hector.


The existence of the poor, homeless and hungry in Malaysia is an indication of the failure of Malaysia’s BN government.

Well, after all Malaysia seem to have adopted a neo-liberal ideology – and just like the United States of America, we too would see soon the rise of the Fourth World – the new poor – the homeless.

Some governments do step in and assist the poor and the marginalised – but alas, it seems like in Malaysia, the government seems to be more concerned about painting a good picture of Malaysia that depicts development and success; so let’s hide the ‘victims’ – the poor, the marginalised, the excluded, the hungry…

When the government failed to look after the homeless, the poor and the hungry, ordinary Malaysians came forward to help a bit – to provide at least some little good food to the needy. The number of such groups has grown, and they are doing a good job. And this government really should be saying ‘Thank You’ – but no, they are now trying to ‘get rid’ of these groups.

The ‘Good Samaritans’ went to where the need was – where the people who needed help were…

Many of the people involved in helping feed the hungry are doing it as volunteers – no, some are even expending their own money and resources to help. (There may be some like the Rosmah-launched Kechara Soup Kitchen which received big cheques of RM85,000 from CIMB Group – wonder whether she donated any of her own money as well; it would be good if she did.)

Many of these groups are operating from their existing premises – like the one known as Carl’s Kitchen, which is operating from the Catholic Archbishop’s premises near St John’s School; so the governments order that they all must move out of KL, outside the 2km-from-Lot 10 zone, is absurd. Well, for one it may mean money has to be spent for new premises, etc – this is something that these Good Samaritans may not have.

A lot of the people who go for a meal have a life – yes, they do; they also work and earn money – little and insufficient for a decent home, food and shelter..

What are the causes? This is what a caring government should be interested in finding out. How can we help?

Help? Well, many would just really want to be able to earn more – find better paying jobs or businesses. A narrow-minded government may just think about sending them to some home – or maybe even ‘detaining’ them someplace – so that we can still present Kuala Lumpur … Malaysia as a beautiful place where all is well and good. But that is not the way.

Really, it is the BN government’s failings that are causing this.

Employment – this government is not ensuring that workers get regular employment until retirement. Now this government allows employers to use short-term employment contracts. Guess what? It will become more and more difficult for older workers to find employment. With short-term employment arrangements, employers are also less inclined to provide ongoing training so that workers can do the work.

When workers lose their jobs and try to find new jobs – Malaysia has no unemployment benefits. Our neighbour Thailand has them. This ‘welfare payment’ is important for workers and families; the absence of this kind of assistance can lead to the complete financial/economic collapse of the family. The car is repossessed, as there is no money to repay the loans. What? the house is also going …. and the credit card company is also chasing them.

In modern Malaysia, thanks also to the policies of the BN government, the lives of workers and their families have become most precarious. A brief stint of not being able to find employment and income may destroy people. Ever wonder why there is an increase in petty crime? Ever wonder why the government does not disclose actual figures for crime – but just some crime index which does not clearly tell us how petty crime is on the rise?

Malaysia has failed Malaysians so much so that there are so many people who frequent these ever growing number of soup kitchens. Malaysians have pride and if people can avoid charity they will do so; so, the growing number of people without proper homes, shelter and food is most disturbing.

So, please withdraw the ‘BAN’ – and allow these soup kitchens to operate as they have been.

The government needs to determine:

  • the actual numbers of persons that are currently being helped by these many different soup kitchen-like initiatives.
  • who these people are and what has brought them to this condition and what needs to be done to overcome their problem – and, more importantly ensure that their numbers do not increase. For those, especially those that cannot find jobs and proper income – try to solve this problem.

We need unemployment benefits to be put in place.

We need to expand welfare benefits for others.

We need to create a new category for those that need special attention – jobs and income. Ignoring the growing number of the marginalised is not the solution.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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20 Jul 2014 8.21am

As usual the Umno schmucks just want the homeless who need the soup kitchen more than anybody else out of sight and hence out of mind. Just like the way they attempted … so that the Orang Asli would be forgotten. Most of all to hide from the world all their actions and policies have failed in Malaysia. Sweeping the dust underneath the carpet is certainly not the way to run away from your failed policies !

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