MALACCA, Malaysia - Transvestites in this historical city are to be given business opportunities to take them off the streets and the flesh trade.
The state will set up a centre for these transgender individuals to open food stalls, hair dressing saloons, handicraft outlets and boutiques, among others.
"The planning of the centre will start now and will take a couple of months to complete," said Chief Minister Datuk Idris Haron after chairing the weekly executive council meeting.
"We are doing this because we respect them and want to give those who genuinely want to give up their immoral activities a chance to rehabilitate.
"We understand their predicament and will help them start a new life.
"A micro credit scheme will be launched for them."
Many transvestites in the state are reported to be involved in prostitution because they faced difficulty getting jobs.
Enforcement agencies, including the Malacca Religious Department, had carried out operations every now and then to curb their immoral activities.
The transvestites mostly plied their trade in the back lanes of Jalan Hang Tuah and Jalan Tun Ali.
On hearing the news that help is underway, a 35-year-old transsexual said he was gratified that their predicament was finally getting the attention of the Malacca government.
He said he had gone into prostitution because he found it tough to get a job.
"My parents never accepted me as they were embarrassed of having a sissy son and chased me out of the house when I was a teenager.
"To survive, I became a sex worker at public parks here," he added.
In a separate development, Idris said that all six licensed gaming outlets in the city will have CCTV installed and connected to the State Religious Department and the four local councils.
This was to enable the department and councils to know whether Muslims and underage people are patronising the outlets, he added.
Idris said the local councils had been directed to carry out daily operations against illegal gaming premises.