Anda di halaman 1dari 3



Homeless in Penang
Posted on December, 2013
By Glory Nancy Viapude
Photography Ong Ee Lynn, Daniel Lim

Penang is perceived as a food paradise, a world-class tourist destination and the all- round place
to be. George Town is the cultural heart of the island state. But underneath her beauty and
vibrancy lies the sight that many still choose to ignore: the destitute and the homeless.

Reason 1

In 2012, the destitute and homeless in Penang numbered at 288. This was a sharp drop from a
staggering 445 in 20091. The majority of them are between 45 and 65 years old. According to
Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK) programmer director Patsy Gooi and the Social Welfare Department
( JKM) many senior citizens often choose to live on the street because of familial discords or
because there is no one to take care of them.

Reason 4

What is sadder is that the homeless aren’t just limited to adults – Penang alone has some 40
homeless children. The majority of them are listed as refugees under the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees and were rescued by JKM in 2012.

It becomes clear that the issue of homelessness is not as simple as not having a place to live.
The lack of stable jobs and the inhumane acts of others push one to live on the streets. Once

Conclusion 2

made homeless, redemption is difficult; securing a job becomes harder, and one is subject to
mockery and discrimination. On top of that, the detachment from normal social contact
heightens the risk of involvement in crime.
Conclusion 3

Efforts taken

Penang lacks a government-run shelter for the homeless. Yayasan Kebajikan

Reason 2

Negara, the only available government agency to shelter the homeless, was supposed to
provide a residential programme in November 20123. Till today, there has been no news of this.

However, Penang has a number of NGOs that provide assistance to the homeless, albeit on an
ad-hoc basis and with little funding. One such NGO is Kawan, which provides food and shelter

Recommendation 1

but can only operate during the day due to limited funds and volunteers.

KSK on the other hand focuses on feeding the homeless: on Tuesdays and Fridays, their kitchen
feeds 60 to 65 mouths, while on Mondays their volunteers take to the streets of George Town,
distributing up to a hundred packets of food.

While current efforts by both the authorities and NGOs are helpful, Penang needs sustainable
measures. The lack of a comprehensive and holistic policy as well as a specific institution to
address homelessness has allowed this issue to persist over the years. On top of that,

Reason 3
JKM’s night-time “catch and release” operations – usually concentrated in “hot spot” areas around
Komtar, Penang Road and Kapitan Keling Road – while undeniably reducing the numbers of
those living on the streets, seem like a treatment fit for criminals.