Friday, February 4, 2011

A Tale of Chinese New Year and Beggars of Penang


    Browsing through all the blogs of my Facebook friends, I came across two rants by one of my good friends, Sherilyn Yeoh.

      She rants about being approached by a middle-aged man in a cafeteria at her work place in Employee Provident Fund Building few days before Chinese New Year holidays started. For some unknown reasons, this man who work as a professional beggar managed to overcome the two Bangladeshi guard in the main entrance and made his way to the cafeteria.

      Sherilyn is a kind girl if you asked me, and as such, she gave him one RM 5 notes thinking of doing a good deeds before the holidays started but this man, being a professional beggars, rudely declined to accept the notes saying to her:

" Hoi, RM 5 boleh makan apa?!"  (loosely translated: Hoi, what can I eat with RM 5?!)

      And I knew Sherilyn is so annoyed with it because for the next few days, she rants about this beggars in her blog and when we met during her open house in Mount Erskine, she began the topics with this incident.

      You see, in my humble opinion, I had encountered  a lot of beggars in the streets of Penang and I can separated them into few types since my volunteering works involving them too:


For me, they are the scum of the beggars community. They dragged their little kids around to gain people's sympathy. Mysteriously, their little kids began to resemble the African malnourished children even though they earned roughly RM 100 (per day). This pity little kids will stare at you like a zombie from the drama The Walking Dead with empty expressions that tug at heartstrings. People give out of pity to the children and so the vicious circle is perpetuated. 


I am not against any religions in this world, trust me on that. My uncles and aunties is either Christian, Buddhist or Muslims. But what I hate the most is when people began to use religions as a tool to beg around. Clad in white or saffron robes, they will walk along the streets with their tin bowls seeking alms. But in my opinion, aren't they supposed to beg for food, not money?


Actually for me, they aren't a normal kind of beggars in the strict sense of the word. These blind musicians (couple with their dreadlocks hair) provide live entertainment for passers-by , making sentimental oldies on their Electone to enliven atmosphere at bus stations, or five-foot ways. For some people, they are contributing to the noise pollution, but for me, they should be lauded for earning an honest living compared to the beggars above (number 1 and 2).


They are able-bodied. They approached you at shopping complex or coffee-shop, stretching out their hands and lamenting that they haven't  eaten in days. The best way to handle them is to buy them a meal or a drink. If they are really starving, they'd be grateful for your gesture but if they insist on money, you can bet that the money you give to them will go towards the company called Sports Toto, Magnum 4D, Da Ma Cai, and whatever toddy shops.


We see them at the night or morning markets. They usually sprawled out in the middle of the road, all the better for people to see their handicap. You see, this kind of people is being given jobs but most of them, not all, declined to accept the job offer and prefer to beg on the street. Well, beside them, there is a cardboard detailing their pitiable plight and a plastic bowl for handouts. They could have moved from the middle of the road to the side and offer some tissue papers or knicks-knacks in exchange for alms.


As the name implies. they will tell tall stories, as high as Petronas Twin Towers or Burj Khalifa. Their spouses have left them, they do not have a job, they cannot work because they contracted Ebola-kind of disease, they have ailing parents and dozen of children to feed and so on.

        The bottom line is, I am not looking down to this beggars. They are all human. I am once a poor person too, but I work for my living. I am not ashamed to work at Esso Petrol Station when I was a 15 years old, I am not embarrassed to wash dishes at hawker stall when I was a 16 years old. For me, every one have an opportunity to work if they have the heart to do it.

      For old people, where are their kids? How can they let their parents do such things at the streets while they are enjoying times with their girlfriends or boyfriends out there.

      Bring them home, give them a shelter because home is where our heart belong to and make sure they can live like a normal human.

      As a 75% Chinese, I want to wish a very Happy Lunar Year to all my relatives and friends out there. Hope the year of Rabbit will bring together a lot of happiness in our life and may we hop around like a rabbit to find success in future.

 To whom I haven't met yet, one more New Year passed me by without meeting you in my life. But I just want you to know, I will continue to work as hard as possible so I can make you happy one day without the need to be poor again like me last time. Put in your heart the fact that I had fallen in love with you way before we knew each other. Maybe this is what I called, a groovy kind of love. Take care my other half of the sky, I am waiting for you. 

No comments: