GEORGE TOWN - Foreign beggars, some with missing limbs, turned up along Jalan Waterfall here to solicit money from the hundreds of thousands of devotees and tourists at the Thaipusam festival.
Five of them were brazenly lying in the middle of the road trying to "waylay" the passing crowd yesterday.
Asked if a syndicate could have brought them there, Penang deputy police chief Deputy Comm Datuk A. Thaiveegan said there had not been any report about beggars.
"There is no such syndicate from our investigations.
"The beggars could be individuals who have taken the opportunity to ask for alms," he said when met at the police thaneer panthal (refreshment stall).
Balathanduyathapani Hilltop Temple Committee chairman R. Subramaniam said the beggars could not have come on their own and they were a "regular feature" of Thaipusam celebrations.
"They could have been brought and left here by a syndicate. They are foreigners and the police should investigate the matter.
"There are also foreign beggars at the foothill of the Hilltop Temple but we do not take action against them as we practise kindness during the festival," he said.
Subramaniam said another issue was the unfinished food and rubbish thrown everywhere by the people despite an abundance of bins and "Do Not Litter" signs.
"People do not seem to appreciate anything that they get for free as packets of food given at the thaneer panthal are strewn all over the roadside.
"Food containers, empty boxes and plastic and paper cups are everywhere and they create a bad image for the festival although the committee had advised people to maintain cleanliness at numerous press conferences before the celebrations.
"There is very little we can do as the people should take responsibility to maintain the cleanliness and not waste the food given to them," he said.