Kuala Lumpur versus the homeless

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is now being accused of displacing homeless people by driving and dropping them off at random locations.  

The allegation comes from Lalitha Abdullah of SEED, through a Facebook post detailing events which happened on May 22. 

“After having the opportunity to watch a fundraising concert by Seed, our homeless community were picked up in a massive raid in KL. They were herded onto a lofty and driven out of the city. They were told to get off at Rawang and some at Karak highway,” she said in the post. 

Lalitha said that some have walked or were dropped off again at Seed.

While Lalitha has voiced her outrage, I am confused by a few things in the city hall’s actions. Firstly, why drop them off at Rawang and the Karak Highway?

Why not drop them off at homeless shelters around the city?

KL Mayor Datuk Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz himself had launched such a place in Medan Tuanku and urged more non-government organisations to use it. In fact, another homeless transit centre was opened in February along Jalan Pahang at the cost of RM3 million. 

And secondly, who authorised such an action when it takes place? 

Obviously if an official truck is used to transport the homeless, some paper trail in the form of petrol allowances and claims must be seen, signed and approved by someone. Thus, it is safe to say that government and tax ringgits are being used in such an exercise in futility. 

This seems to be the newest action in Kuala Lumpur’s war against the homeless, after the past debacle in 2014 which saw Federal Territory Minister Tengku Adnan Mansor trying to close down soup kitchen in the city centre where the homeless get free food. 

And yet, Adnan and DBKL in their infinite wisdom seems to have no qualms with lawbreakers, considering their insistence to host illegal motorcyclists racing on the streets, nor are they concerned enough to come up with a proactive flood mitigation plan for the city. 

While it obviously shows where someone’s priorities lie, there is a need to come up with proper management of this issue and a permanent solution. 

Transit centres are a good start in order to allow the homeless to clean themselves up, but what is the sustainable endgame here?

Should we be looking at permanent shelters, as well as job opportunities in the so-called Dirty, Dangerous and Difficult or Demeaning (3D) sector? 
Could that be doubled with a scheme of government subsidised low cost housing or even hostels, thus giving them a permanent home?

A study in compassion is necessary in looking at the homeless, but at the same time it is also a good opportunity to consider it as a sustainable solution to other issues, namely our dependence on foreign labour for one. 

If a policy were in place in encouraging a so called “Malaysian First” employment model rather than dependence on foreign labour, it would truly provide the ability to sustainably lower the homeless population as well as growing unemployment. 

But let us start small. Allow NGOs such as Seed and others to have a sit down with the Mayor as well as other interested stakeholders to look at what plans can be put in place to alleviate the homeless from their current predicaments. 

At the same time, put an end to these actions of driving them off to the middle of nowhere with the hope that they don’t return. These are human beings, not to be treated like abandoned cats and dogs abandoned at some pasar or commercial area. 

2 thoughts on “Kuala Lumpur versus the homeless

  1. I’ve been working with an NGO that helps the homeless for more than 5 years now and rest assured that this tactic of “cleaning” up the streets is not new. It’s usually done when an international event is in town to make sure KL is free from any “thrash.”


  2. Which is funny, considering the American mayors pull this kind of bullshit on their own homeless populace in their respective cities, mostly it’s New York. For all the talk by our local UMNOliticians like Ku Nan on how Malaysians should not emulate “Yahudis” or “budaya kuning Barat”, this kind of apathy towards the homeless that plagued the US has now infected our ministers.


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