Dirty and starving, they were dumped and forgotten

MALAYSIA- An old lorry stands in the driveway, with trash piled up behind it.

The double-storey house, once an old folks' home, appeared to be deserted.

But beyond the padlocked gate and the front door secured by a nylon string, there were five aged and infirm people abandoned to live in squalor.

The house has no water supply and food is delivered to the five every now and then, reported Malaysia's The Star.

Neighbours who had believed the house in Taman Wahyu, Kuala Lumpur, had been vacant for at least a year, were shocked to find them amid the stench and garbage. The five elderly had apparently been abandoned by their caretakers.

The secretary of the residents' association of the housing area, Mr P. Duraimohan, 53, had decided to investigate claims of strange sounds, including muffled cries, coming from the house.

"We informed the security guards and I decided to enter the house. When I asked if anyone was in, I was shocked to see an old woman coming down the stairs," he said.

Mr Duraimohan found three men and a woman on the first floor.

"They were skinny and unbathed. One man was lying on the floor and surrounded by so much rubbish that I did not even notice him there at first," he said, adding that the premises used to be one of three houses used as an old folks' home for more than 10 years.

"About two years ago, the houses were vacated but we thought the operators had kept this one as a store."

Ms Leong Soo Ah, 66, told The Star that she and the four others had been living there for two months and that it was a "temporary arrangement".

"We were supposed to move to Batang Berjuntai," she said.

When asked about what they had been eating, Ms Leong said someone delivered food and water in the evenings. She had a mattress in the living area upstairs, which was also filled with piles of old clothing.

There was no water supply and they kept the lights off for fear of attracting thieves.


She shared the space with Mr P. Muniandy, who slept on the floor.

"We have not gone out in a long time. We just stay inside," said Ms Leong.

The lower floor of the house was filled with old newspapers, clothing and furniture. A woman was sitting on a sofa in one of two rooms in the rear of the house while the two men, known only as Mr Ah Meng and Mr Ah Seng, were sharing a queen-sized mattress.

"Sometimes we have food, sometimes there is none," said Mr Ah Seng, pointing to stacks of empty food containers and water bottles. There were packets of half-finished food strewn on the floor.

Mr P. Muniandy, 70, said he had been unable to find work after being involved in an accident eight years ago.

Speaking from the Hospital Selayang, where he has since been warded for observation, he said his four children told him that they could not take care of him.

"I was a burden so I was dropped off there. I have not seen them for almost a year. Please help me find them," he said with tears rolling down his face.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim said she has ordered welfare officers to investigate the case.

"I'm quite upset. There are many societies being set up to look after the needy but there are still many that are not registered and known to the ministry," she said.

"Those registered with us will receive annual grants. The ministry allocates RM8 (S$3) per person per day for food and beverage."

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