Beggars on the city's streets are indeed an eyesore. Likewise, homeless sleeping on five foot ways and park benches are a reality in cities all over the world.
However, it is only in Malaysia where we attempt to bring beggars and the homeless to court and fine them instead of solving the underlying social problem. Adding salt to the wound, we are also contemplating penalising and arresting the volunteer care givers and the soup kitchens.
The excuse given is to "clean up" the city especially the tourism belt.
Take a walk down Jalan Bukit Bintang, from Pavilion towards Federal Hotel after dusk. What greets you on your journey?
On your left, one is left with a narrow uncovered passage way. Taking up what should have been a safe comfortable pedestrian way are cafes and money changer kiosks etc. These should not have been allowed by DBKL in the first place.
On the opposite side of the road, families with very young children are there all along the pavements selling fake "branded" watches. Unattended children are moving in and around the cars selling roses. I would guess many of these families are illegal immigrants forced onto the streets by circumstances or probably even by syndicates. Is this issue being looked at and addressed?
Take a look at the shops and you cannot miss noticing that almost all are middle eastern restaurants with not a single Malaysian face on their staff. How could this even be allowed by DBKL licensing department and the Immegration authorities?
Your walk from Pavillion to Federal Hotel has only just started.
Cross the traffic lights over to Macdonalds amidst the MRT construction site in the middle leaving just a small passage for pedestrians.
You now have to struggle through a maze of scantilly dressed ladies of all ages, each waving a pieces of laminated paper into your face. And into your ears, each of these foreign ladies will be whispering "masas sir, masas. good masas".
You succeed out of the maze and you have men walking alongside you offering, " beautiful girls, can choose: have thailand, china russia, all have, young girl"
You ignore them and continue walking. The men having been ignored will ask, "mister, you no like girl, we have boy, strong muscle boy, lady boy, anything you like". You are now close to losing your patience and wanting to tell the guys to leave you alone.
On the opposite side of the road, you notice every shop is a reflexology center but here you do see a fair share of Malaysian faces.
On the right side you have either budget hotels or middle eastern restaurants. Your pathway is again a maze of scatilly dressed ladiea waving that familiar laminated sheets of massage menu.
You do wonder if you are in Malaysia or in some cosmopolitan city somewhere else on the planet. Suddenly you are brought back to Malaysia as you see the familiar PappaRich cafe.
Opposite that, you have reached your destination, the Federal Hotel an iconic Malaysian landmark, built to house our VIP guests at our Independence Day celebrations in 1957.
That walk from Pavillion to the Federal Hotel brought you the mixed and vibrant life of Bukit Bintang. It also exposed you to the many ahortfalls of our authorities in enforcing the laws. Or perhaps, its deliberately ignored to allow enforcement officers the opportunity to "improve" their income. Surely they cannot be blind to all that is going on around them.
The mushroomig of budget hotels too are a great source of income. Im guessing that more than half of the rooms are taken by foreign sex workers both male and female as their work places.
So to the Federal Territories Minister talking about "cleaning up the city", there, thats your work cut out for you. Sort out the illegal businesses, illegal foreign workers.
The homeless and the soup kitchens and volunteer care givers should not be your target. Do not seek cheap publicity by "bullying" your own people but kow towing to illegal exploitative foreigners.
Or worse still do not attempt to create a smoke screen around DBKL's failures in building a safe , clean tourism belt that all Malaysians can be proud of.
Go take a walk down Bukit Bintang this weekend.