KL's homeless say they are mistreated and feared

KL's homeless say they are mistreated and feared

MALAYSIA - It's close to midnight in Kuala Lumpur and Mr Anuar, 35, often gets looks of scorn as he prepares to retire for the night at his usual spot along a walkway.

He said: "I have no choice but to sleep here, since I can't afford to rent a room. Other than that, I am your average Malaysian. Why humiliate me by considering me unfit for the city?"

He is not the only one who claims to be "treated like scum", as members of the homeless community in the city say they are often mistreated and even feared by the city's other residents.

Mr Anuar, who has been in KL for eight years, also recounted the times people had refused to acknowledge him when he warned them to be careful with their bags when walking along the street, The Star reported.

His plight comes at a time when the Malaysian government announced that soup kitchens would not be allowed within a 2km radius of Lot 10 in KL.

Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the activity encouraged people to remain homeless and jobless, with an added result of litter and disease-carrying scavengers.

But soup kitchen operators have been defying the order and supplying food to the needy and homeless.

Said Mr Anuar: "As it is, we are swallowing our pride and living on the streets, taking food from soup kitchens.

"Thinking of us as being on a lower level than the rest of society is painful."

Mr Krishna, 28, who is jobless, said people often thought of the homeless as lazy and dependent on handouts when they simply failed to find employment.

He told The Star: "I have health issues and have a certificate from the doctors saying I am unfit for certain jobs, such as those that require lifting heavy objects.

"I can still do simple work, but many refuse to hire me because of my medical condition."

Mr Krishna, who has been homeless for five years, said it's unfair for people to expect them to simply "clear the streets".

"Now you tell us to go away, what will happen to us?

Many of the homeless there receive aid from soup kitchens, such as the Pertiwi Soup Kitchen that runs four nights a week.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Razak will hold discussions with soup kitchens to reach an amicable outcome for all affected parties.

He also stressed that the government remains concerned about the dilemma faced by the homeless.

This article was first published on July 7, 2014.
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