Putrajaya – Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim today asserted that she never told soup kitchens to stop their operations in helping the homeless.
In turn, the Women, Family and Community Development Minister said she told non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who regularly fed the homeless, to instead give their food donations to welfare institutions and NGOs under her ministry to be given to the needy.
Rohani said this was one of the issues she discussed with 12 NGOs on May 9, among whom were the Pertiwi and Kenchana soup kitchens.
“I am not stopping them. Instead of working on the streets, I told them it was better to divert to welfare homes run by my NGOs,” she told reporters after chairing a council meeting on the elderly.
On the widely reported commencement of Ops Qaseh yesterday, Rohani said she had never mentioned the initiative to have commenced on Sunday (July 7), saying efforts to get the homeless off the streets was an ongoing one.
She said Ops Qaseh was actually an “Ops Selamat”, which aims to get people off the streets.
“In the first place, they shouldn’t be on the streets. They should be in homes.”
Rohani also clarified that the ministry had never attempted to “raid” places the homeless were at and punish any of them.
“When we go and find them, we monitor them because not all of them would be under our purview.”
She said officers would determine drug addicts and those with mental illnesses apart from children, senior citizens and special needs people and refer them to the relevant ministries.
During the ministry’s recent visit, Rohani said they also found working people who were homeless because they could not afford a home. Hence, they were referred to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the Housing Ministry for help.
She further explained the instances whereby tourists were allegedly fed by soup kitchens, saying it was circumstantial, whereby a couple of backpackers stood in line not knowing the homeless were being fed.