Foreign beggars turn up increasingly at JB's pasar malams

BEGGING: Malaysians are moved by the sight of foreign beggars without limbs crawling along the stalls

JOHOR BAHRU - Be prepared for a shock if you are visiting any of the pasar malam in the city these days! What welcomes you could be more than what you would expect at a night market.

Chances are, you will see, or even stumble over several handicapped people lying in the middle of the already congested path.

Needless to say, they are there to beg for alms.

Checks at several night markets showed that the handicapped beggars, believed to be foreigners, have been around for quite some time now, although no one had cared to find out how they are brought to the night markets.

A night market trader in Taman Century, identified as Jennifer, said she saw the same beggars every time she set up her stall on Mondays.

"Although they do not disturb visitors and traders, I think their presence is an eyesore.

"From their looks and their accent, they seem to be from China. The question is, how did they enter the country in such a condition?

"Are they taking the normal flights or are they shipped into the country?" she said.

Visitor A. Murugan said he sometimes gave the beggars money out of compassion.

He said the beggars did not look like locals, adding that he had seen one being transported by van to the night market.

"I believe there were more than one beggar in the van," he said.

The same scenario is evident at the Taman Ungku Tun Aminah night market in Skudai. The Saturday night market is believed to be the biggest night market in Johor Baru.

Visitor Loh Tien Su, 45, said he could not understand how the foreign beggars had sneaked into the country, given their physical condition.

He believes there is a syndicate that brings them into Malaysia to capitalise on their handicap.

"Usually, they are without a leg. They crawl on the floor. It is such a pity to see them in such a condition," he said.

A Johor Baru Welfare Department spokesman said the handicapped beggars were usually from China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia.

The spokesman said the department carried out raids, upon receiving complaints, from time to time.

"Usually, the syndicate places two or three handicapped beggars in every pasar malam.

"When the beggars are rescued, they are referred to the Immigration Department, as these cases are considered human trafficking," said the spokesman.