Policy of arresting the homeless cruel, ineffective says charity

Source: NST Online

The arrest  and detention of the homeless without trial under the Destitute Persons Act must be stopped as it is cruel, said a non-profit charitable organisation today. Pic by NSTP/Mohd Rizal Abdullah
The arrest and detention of the homeless without trial under the Destitute Persons Act must be stopped as it is cruel, said a non-profit charitable organisation today. Pic by NSTP/Mohd Rizal Abdullah

KUALA LUMPUR: The arrest and detention of the homeless without trial under the Destitute Persons Act must be stopped as it is cruel, said a non-profit charitable organisation today.

Petaling Jaya-based Community Excel Services (CES) said the current policy of detention does not help the homeless as they are stigmatised and placed under ‘rehabilitation’ against their will, which does more harm than good.

“Rounding up and detaining the city’s homeless population shouldn’t be part of government strategy to help vulnerable people.

“What we should do is address the psychological and emotional needs of the homelessness, which includes their lack of love, feeling of belonging, acceptance and safety,” said CES coordinator Jerry Teo.

He was speaking to the press during CES’ KL Urban Fellowship program to assist the poor, which includes providing medical check-ups, clothing giveaways, games and meal sessions with volunteers at its centre in Lorong Petaling.

Teo, who has been working with the homeless community for more than 15 years, said fulfilling these needs is important in order to make the homeless feel supported and accepted.

By having an emotional connection with other people through interaction, they can more easily cope with depressing situations and find strength to overcome problems such as loneliness, depression and anxiety.

“(When they are detained) the authorities tell them that they are being put away for their own good, but they need more than a solution to them being physically homeless.

“They are not lazy. And in fact, some of the people who live on the street have a home to return to.

“But they lack a loving, caring and home-like environment where relationships with people make them they feel happy and motivated to improve their situation (so they stay away),” he said.

Teo said the matter has been raised with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and Federal Territories, but progress has been slow.


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