Saturday, July 5, 2014

DAP promises legal aid for homeless, others as crackdown looms

Teresa Kok from DAP (centre) and Nurul Izzah from PKR (left) distributing food to people living on the streets of Kuala Lumpur together with a soup kitchen, May 4, 2014. ― Picture by Choo Choy May.
Source: (By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal 5/7/2014)
KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 ― Opposition party DAP has pledged to give legal assistance to the homeless and others who may be caught up in the government’s crackdown on homelessness in the capital startingon Monday.
“DAP lawyers are prepared to give legal servicesthis Monday for those who might be arrested and those who would be issued fines,” Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng told reporters after distributing food to people living on the streets of Kuala Lumpur together with a soup kitchen late on Friday
Also present were PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar and DAP’s Teresa Kok.
“I don’t know what legal provision the authorities are going to use...the only one I know is the Destitute Person’s Act.
“I cannot think of any legal provision which can be used to take action against people who assist the homeless,” Lim added.
Government social welfare officers and local authorities have used the Destitute Persons Act 1977 to round up and detain homeless people for up to three years in government sponsored homes for the vulnerable. Occasionally, the detention period has been extended.
Persons detained are kept in facilities run by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
KR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar told reporters that Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had declined her invitation to assist in handing out food supplies.
“I am told the minister is in Labuan,” she said.
The minister has been vilified for banning soup kitchens from operating within a 2km radius of the city centre to support a government campaign to rid the city of its homeless people.
The minister warned charity groups to move their soup kitchens out by Monday or face fines.
Tengku Adnan, who is also Umno secretary-general, told reporters that soup kitchens were dirty, drawing rodents that spread diseases like Leptospirosis, and dengue.
He said the homeless could go to temples and mosques outside KL for food, adding that those who give to beggars in the capital would also be fined.
The ministry has since said sought to contain the public relations damage by saying it is merely setting up a “one-stop centre” to combat vagrancy in Kuala Lumpur.
In a statement on its official website, the ministry said it is working with the KL City Hall (DBKL) to identify a building at a suitable location to provide facilities for the city’s homeless, including free nutritious food and a place to rest and places to sleep.
There will also be a medical treatment centre to curb the “spread of infectious diseases” and an integrated registration centre with the help of the Welfare Department to record information from homeless people, it said
Neither the location of the building nor a start date for its services were given.
Related news: Crowds at soup kitchen prove it's still badly needed

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