By SHAUN HO
KUALA LUMPUR - Many of the homeless Sabahans and Sarawakians here are still reluctant to go back to their hometown though they are forced to sleep on the streets and depend on charity for food.
Hillary Mark Joseph from Kota Kinabalu said he preferred to find a job here rather than go home.
"There are no jobs there," said the 23-year-old who came to the federal capital with his relatives when he was a youngster.
"And it is embarrassing to go back to my hometown with nothing after all this time," he added.
Last week, The Star carried a report about Sabahan youths who are living on the streets of Kuala Lumpur after losing their jobs or being cheated by employment agencies.
Sabah Umno Youth exco Jamawi Jaafar met a group of homeless people, including some from Sabah and Sarawak, at a free kitchen operated by the Archdiocesan Office for Human Development at Jalan Bukit Nanas yesterday.
"We came to see if there really are over 400 homeless Sabahans as reported. Today, we saw about 28 people," he said, adding that the seemingly high figure might have been due to multiple counts by different charity groups.
Desmond Gasing, 24, from Sibu, Sarawak, said there were more than 400 homeless Sabahans and Sarawakians here but they were scattered throughout the city.
"They are around. Some already have jobs. That's why you don't see them now," he said.
Meanwhile, Jamawi said he would help arrange flights for those who wanted to return or help them find jobs that provided accommodation for workers.
Accompanying him were several representatives from the Sabah Government Liaison Office in Cheras who were there to register the homeless and compile their names into a database.
"This is the first time we are doing this.
"We are trying to collect as much information as possible. We will continually update the database," said liaison office director Edris Maidin.
Other Malaysians can also seek help from the office to get jobs even in Sabah.
"We also welcome people from other states who need help to contact us," he added.