Don’t spoil the homeless, says Rohani

07 Jul 2014 / 09:31 H.

    PUTRAJAYA: Welfare Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) must refrain from "spoiling" the homeless with free shelter and food as it can interfere with the government's initiatives to rehabilitate the group into a normal community.
    Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said there is a group of homeless who are freeloading from the NGOs aid and refuse to undergo the rehabilitation programme offered by the Government and subsequently work.
    "We have a case where we provided a homeless family with a low cost house and work. Instead they returned to the streets to sleep as they deemed it 'more comfortable' and refused to work," she told theSun in an interview.
    "Some of the homeless are desperate, but there are also those who take it as their normal way of life and this is the kind of thinking we must get rid of," she said.
    "We are not saying the NGOs are wrong but we need to channel the food directly to welfare homes and help the homeless to rehabilitate and be gainfully employed."
    She said through the Ops Qaseh initiative, the ministry is hoping to reduce the number of homeless to zero and this can only be achieved through public cooperation.
    She added the public need to change their perception of fearing that the homeless will be treated without compassion during the operation.
    "Sometimes we need to be strict in enforcing the rules. However, that does not mean that our method is going to be harsh," she added.
    Rohani said those who are picked from the streets are given shelter, rehabilitation, training and a job to start a new life.
    On Federal Territories Minister, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor statement that the government may penalise those who give money to beggars, she said: "It may sound harsh, but this might be one of the few ways to give those beggars and homeless a way to start a new and normal life. We are actually trying to help them."
    She said donations must be channelled directly to charity foundations and other recognised welfare institutions. "Generosity is sometimes abused by unscrupulous begging syndicates."
    She said her ministry was working together with other relevant ministries and authorities to come up with affordable housing projects to reduce the homeless.
    "Many from rural and remote areas come to the city to find work and some of them are homeless because they cannot afford to pay the rent," she said, adding that employers should provide hostel facilities for their workers.

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