Putrajaya clueless about homeless issue, say activists

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KUALA LUMPUR: The government has failed to comprehend the real problems faced by the homeless, and the Destitute Persons Act (DPA) 1977 is no longer relevant in resolving the vagrancy issue, a forum heard on Wednesday night.

Hadi Khalid, a coordinator of soup kitchen Dapur Jalanan, said leaders must look at the bigger issue of poverty, which began when the economy shifted from an agricultural one to industrial.

“The real issue here is poverty. As long as it isn’t resolved, this problem will never be over,” Hadi told the forum titled “Homelessness: Issues, solutions and the future” organised by Akademi Belia.

“When we met ministry officials, we brought up the issue of poverty, and how [the homeless] are unable to afford homes or get jobs with a stable income.”

Hadi said vagrants have been arrested and evicted since the 1980s, when the country’s economy began to undergo a transformation.

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) coordinator Michelle Yesudas said the DPA is no longer relevant in efforts to resolve the homeless issues.

“Just like the Sedition Act, we do not agree with this act as its definition and implementation are discriminatory.

“Can the authorities simply arrest someone who is incapable of earning a living, and take them away without giving them a choice in the matter?” — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 10, 2014.