It is totally weird, bewildering and disturbing that certain politicians and members of the press see it as their patriotic duty to chase homeless people on the streets of George Town…
Is it any wonder why these street people fear these rough “rescue operations” so much? Do those who are “rounding up” these people know where these street people are being sent to and what conditions are like there? The Social Welfare Department should ask itself why these people are so afraid of being “rescued”. Has anyone stopped and thought about the root causes of such homelessness and what kind of social safety nets we have?
The press were there to cover the operations but that did not stop one press member from going on his motorbike in hot pursuit of a homeless person, already being pursued by the political secretary to the CM no less. Reminds me of journalists “embedded” with US troops in Iraq and how they like to don army flak jackets and pretend they are part of the war too, while reporting from the US military’s perspective.
Oh, what gallant “heroes” we have in our midst! Someone should award them medals for bravery, courage and patriotism beyond the call of duty…
Perhaps these political and press “heroes” should visit the Lighthouse centre along Penang Road and speak to the volunteers there to find out how to approach street people without violating their dignity as human beings. And then actually talk to the street people. Then our “heroes” might begin to see a different picture and realise that these street people could very well have been their fathers, mothers, sisters or brothers. The Star reporters for their part might want to actually talk to these street people and find out why they are on the streets in the first place.
Check out this excerpt from a report in The Star:
THE frantic appeal of a vagrant rang in the air as he was approached by Social Welfare Department officers in George Town.
“Sabarlah…sabarlah, jangan tangkap aku, aku nak berniagalah!” (be patient…be patient, don’t catch me, I want to trade).
The vagrant known only as Hamzah was picked up during one of the biggest raids against vagrants and beggars on Penang island this year on Sunday night.
When told by Komtar assemblyman Ng Wei Aik that he would be sent home, he replied: “Rumah? Saya tak ada rumah, sudah lama aku tak balik rumah. (Home? I don’t have a home, it’s been a while since I last returned home).
Zero Hardcore Poverty Press Conference at Dewan Sri Pinang, Penang.
Citizen journalists Lilian Chan and Jimmy Leow giving the state government a pretty tough time answering their questions.
Guan Eng: Penang has eradicated hardcore poverty
GEORGE TOWN (March 30, 2009) : Penang has become the first state in the country to eradicate hardcore poverty by arranging financial aid and economic activities for all 726 households registered under the hardcore poor category.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the initiative was successful partly because of the support of the private sector and social groups who chipped in to aggressively alleviate the hardships of the poor.
"Even though it is difficult, including facing bankruptcy, I am more willing to have the state becoming bankrupt to help the poor and be burdened than to be bankrupted by corruption," he said today.
The implementation mechanism, overseen by the Welfare Department, consists mainly of funding affected families to ensure their incomes are topped up such that they get at least RM500 every month.
The department even helped some individuals set up bank accounts to receive the funds.
Lim said checking the state's poverty rate was one of the first things that he had given priority to after Pakatan Rakyat took control of the government in March last year.
The state then took a whole year to conduct an exhaustive survey, with the help of socio-economic specialists from Universiti Sains Malaysia, to determine the exact number of hardcore poor.
Of the total number, 150 were on the island's south-west and 41 in the north-east, while 48 were in Seberang Perai Selatan, 186 in Seberang Perai Tengah, 303 in Seberang Perai Utara.
The figures are updated every three months, Lim said, adding that the state was planning to now eradicate general poverty as well, which is classified as income below RM700 a month.
Lim also said a total of RM2.2 million had been collected from the private sector, including philanthropists and charitable businesses, under an initiative called "Partners Against Poverty".
Lim said this in a ceremony to announce the successful eradication of hardcore poverty in Dewan Sri Pinang here.
He also questioned what happened to a reported RM1.1 million allocation under the Rural and Regional Development Ministry to help 22 hardcore poor in Penang.
Penang Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh rebuked Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen for rejecting the state’s plea for funding to build a housing complex for about 300 homeless people.
Ng reportedly said the state should fund the complex by itself since the project was its own initiative.
"I was shocked to hear her response," said Phee, adding that the 12 acre land in Seberang Perai Selatan was transferred to the federal government by the state.
"If you give us the funds, we can build houses for 300 families and a place where they can be trained and equipped with working skills," he said.
Phee said if Ng did not have full details about the land and project, the state was willing to furnish her with the information and take her on a tour of the site.
A short conversation about hope and life (Source: Obnoxious 5xMom’s blog.)