Foreigners using the blind to conduct begging activities

16 Feb 2022 12:50pm

KUALA LUMPUR - Some unscrupulous people are making easy money using persons with disabilities (PwD) to engage in begging activities.

These people are the ‘leaders’ who guide the beggars to beg in the city and are easily able to earn more than RM2,000 a month.

One of these leaders, Maria, 38, from Madura, Central Java, Indonesia recently admitted that she can earn over RM100 per day depending on a beggar's collection.

"There are no fixed working hours. We usually move around with other leaders to escort the blind beggars around to 'sell' tissue packets.

"From my earnings, I can remit RM300 to my family back in the village as well as pay RM450 for my house rent a month”, said Maria when questioned by the police after her arrest in an operation codenamed Op Pintas Bersepadu (Pengemis) here recently.

A special Bernama report today revealed that begging activities, especially in Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam, did not involve syndicates but rather were done ‘voluntarily’ as it was an easy source of income.

Even though Maria tried to be evasive when being interrogated, she finally said that she entered the country on a maid's permit in 2018 before becoming a ‘leader’ for blind beggars, such as Mustaqim, since 2019.

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Maria, who possesses a gentle appearance, admitted that she used black magic to get him to marry her.

Though they are now divorced, Mustaqim still is her main source of income (through begging activities).

She is currently being detained under the Immigration Act 1959/63 for overstaying in the country.

According to a police source, Maria would meet Mustaqim and friends in a restaurant in Brickfields to plan their work activities.

"Based on intelligence, these beggars will work according to shifts starting at 9am. There is a break and they will end (their work) before midnight," said the source, adding that each shift is believed to involve seven visually impaired beggars and seven leaders.

At the end of their day, they regroup at the restaurant to count their takings and split the earnings equally between the leaders and beggars.

Bernama observed that Maria's modus operandi included the restaurant that was strategically located to the main road and public transport such as the monorail. This made it easier for her to organise her operations.

Taxi drivers, believed to be locals, also cooperated with Maria by sending the beggars and their leaders to the designated locations in the city.

According to the police, the activities of these beggars also extended out of the city including to Seremban, Negeri Sembilan for a more lucrative income.

"It is believed that these beggars are not part of a syndicate, and there was no compulsion to join but the PwD worked voluntarily as beggars.

"From the investigation, it is believed Maria uses black magic on the PwD to get their cooperation to work with her.

"Further investigations are still underway to uncover begging activities involving these foreign leaders," the source also said.

Meanwhile, Mustaqim, 56, who was also arrested admitted he joined the begging activities voluntarily as he could earn RM2,000 a month.

The father of four who lives in Damansara said every morning he would go to Brickfields to meet Maria (to liaise on their begging activities) and considered the job of selling tissues as his main source of livelihood.

The four-day integrated operation, which started on Feb 9, is aimed at ridding begging activities in the city which is a cause of public concern and has also given the country a bad image. - BERNAMA