Poverty and poor Muslims (photos)

I found old women lying on the five foot way, on a burning hot afternoon, napping. It is a very sad sight. Things like these shouldn’t happen here in a country which often talk so much about how developed it has become. The Government is reminding us about giant projects like the NCER and the PGCC.

(Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang)

Yet, how do they explain the poverty face by these unfortunate folks? Initially, I was reluctant to take their photos. Then, on second thought, why not? If I can bring the stark reality to everyone that things are not rosy like what our Government wants us to believe, I think I am doing something useful. If I can bring awareness to my readers that there people who live on roadsides, maybe there are kind folks out there willing to give alms to them.


It is very sad to see this makcik curled up under the shade, in the hot sun, sleeping on a mat. It makes me very angry that in a state that often have so many projects to beautify the roundabouts and other useless projects, we have failed to find shelter for these people.


I do not know where these folks come from or if they are Malaysians. But they are still human. I guess they are gathering there to collect donations and handouts from the nearby mosque. There are like 30-40 of them.


I hope the State Government of Penang do something with this real fast. Why are there so many poor people? And yet, there are so much wastage in all the useless projects? Can’t we find a balance somewhere?

If these photos touched your heart, remember to give some donations to the poor folks you find around you. Raya is coming and they deserve new clothes, nice foods and the knowledge that all of us care.

15 thoughts on “Poverty and poor Muslims (photos)

  1. Hi there!

    I worked at Berkat Jewellers opposite the Masjid Kapitan Keling, when I was living in Penang so I can share with you what I know about these ‘poor folks’ and where they come from?

    The majority of the Malays you have taken pictures here are from the mainland northern states of Kedah and Seberang Perai.

    When I was working there, the Rohingyas @ Myanmar Muslim ‘refugees’ make up the bulk of the poor folks gathered there to beg for alms from the jewellers along Masjid Kapitan Keling and other wealthy Indian Muslim businessmen.

    These beggars would go from shop to shop begging and the jewellers will be handing out alms to each beggar who comes a calling.

    Minimum handout is 50 sens and the usual handout is RM1 for every beggar no matter who they are?

    Before you know it, these ‘beggars’ will be flushed with cash and they will come to the moneychangers and change their accumulated stash of bags of coins for ringgits and some of them end up buying gold chains with the money they have collected.

    I speak from my years of being engaged in the distribution of ‘zakat’ that my employer @ Haji S.M.Mohamad Abdullah and his sons , Haji Mohamad Hussain and Haji Mohamad Sultan hand out in thousands of ringgits every Ramadan.

    So, you see dear friend, these are ‘seasonal beggars’ who will crop up without fail every Ramadan.

    Yes, its a bit sickening to see them camp ou like the vagabonds and create such an ugly scene there but as you know, our Social Welfare Department ain’t really that bloody efficient in nabbing these beggars.

    So, there you have it, from a source who was there and knows about these poor folks!

  2. Mahaguru – Thanks for enlightening me. So, it looks like our authority here is not sure how to deal with them. If they shouldn’t be there, the authority have shoo them away, isn’t it? I heard about the Rohingyas from Lucia’s blog the other day. So, what is our Government doing to help these refugees, I wonder?

    Again, thanks for telling my readers and I about the hardships of these refugees.

  3. Dear Lillian,

    If the MPPP or any other government agency come and round up these beggars and take them away, there will be a hue and cry about insensitive ‘kerajaan’ being harsh on ‘poor people’!

    The bloody NGO’s will rally behind these seasonal beggars and riff raffs from both the Malaysian citizens and those Rohingya’s!

    Some of the ‘champions of the ‘poor and destitutes’ will unfurl large banners condemning the MPPP and whatever government agency that tries to clear away the beggars from the area but it will be a futile exercise, I tell you!

    You have yet to see the hordes of such beggars coming inland from Seberang Perai and Kedah!

    If you are keen to catch these hordes coming in, just go with your camera and wait near the ferry terminal.

    You will see hundreds and thousands of these ‘poor beggars’ coming like war refugees and amongst the hordes will be vagrants, alcoholics, drug addicts, petty thieves, wayward youths, you name it, you’ll see it, type of unsavory characters!

    It’s for the sheer reason of not wanting to ‘wrestle with the swine’ that local authorities like the MPPP, the Social Welfare Department and the PDRM, try their best to stay clear of getting themselves embroiled in a sure to happen controversy!

    You will not want to mess with the types that come and occupy the five foot ways around the area!

    The kind who don’t give a shit about sleeping on the pavements like that will not bat an eyelid in shouting at you like hell and cause you to feel embarrassed if you even try to advice them not to be there, messing up the image of the historical area.

    Fights break out between them. Hair pulling, lifting up of sarongs, abusive language, filthy signs , all kinds of vulgar mannerisms are part and parcel of their unruly behavior if anyone tries to evict them from the areas!

    So dear Lillian, I hope that before anyone jumps to any conclusions and tries to say that the local authorities are not doing anything about such ‘poor people’, please learn from this sharing of the real deal here from me as I know what I am saying here.

    I was the Founding Secretary of the Masjid Kapitan Keling’s Islamic Centre under the minaret building and had a pretty tough time in chasing away the bloody nuisance mischief makers from the hordes who tried to set up camp around our centre!

    I didn’t give them any quarter and wielded a thick rotan cane to whack anyone amongst them away from the compounds of the mosque’s grounds!

    Many of them do not fast and eat openly there and they leave the place dirty, littered with the used paper wrappings and Styrofoam containers.

    It’s damn frustrating I tell you in having to face such nuisances year in year out!

    I really pity the mosque authorities in trying to remain civil every Ramadan.

    The beggars really cause so much heartaches to everyone who loves Penang and try to preserve our island’s reputation.

    The local authorities are sort of caught between the devil and the deep blue sea in facing this recurring problem every year!

    If it was up to me, I’d dispatch the FRU to tear gas the vagrants back home to wherever they came from?

    Yeah, the sympathizers will say that I am bloody cruel but if you know what I know and have seen the shit that these people do without fail, you’d take up that rattan cane yourself and whack them back to their bases!

    I thank you for writing about this. Now your readers and you know better.

    Penang is a beautiful place but the kind of people coming in to mess it up day in day out really drives me nuts.

    No matter that I am here in KL, deep in my heart, I am always a true blue Penangite!

    Wa si lu ey kaki lang!

    Chai chien!

  4. It’s like that la..

    Give me a fish, I eat for a day. Teach me to fish, I eat for a lifetime.

    The money should be spent on projects which would then create jobs for people like that. If you give these people the money straight, they will piss it all away in no time, and go back to living on the streets.

  5. Thank you lilian for raising the issue. Thank you mahaguru for the clarification, strong words, but I can see the issue more clearly.

    Malaysia memang tanah permai dan orang Malaysia sebenarnya memng pemurah sebab itu ramai orang suka datang Malaysia.

  6. rizlan – I also must thank Mahaguru for that insights. I didn’t these refugees are like that. Usually, during Thaipusam or Wesak Day, there are plenty of them, small kids and jaga babies too. I sometimes give when they begged but the temple people forbid me. Tapi kan…kesian anak-anak kecil tu, so I give secretly. Now, I wonder if I am encouraging them even more.

    vincent – Yalah, cant they be absorbed into the plantation work or something? No need to pay for Indons, I mean Indonesian nationalities.

    mahaguru – Kamsiah!

  7. If I can still remember a few years back in the newspaper, there was one beggar was robbed more than RM20K at Komtar, Penang. RM20K woo!! More than your 12K August income. See! Begging is a profession in Malaysia not because their were poor or did not have enough to eat. These beggars are working!! Myself have seen an old man begging inside a hypermarket and after that seen him driving a car going out from the car park.

    This problem is not only happening in Malaysia but also in other muslims country. I have been to a few gulf countries and every time i went to the mosques, I will see beggars hovering around the mosques pavement and begging for money. Mind you, some of these beggars I think is even aggressive and worse than what we have here because they will scold at you if you don’t give them anything (Happened to me when I was in Doha, Qatar). To me as a muslim, I am sad to see these lazy kind of people are taking advantage from what Islam has taught muslims to be kind and help those in needs.

    So, whoever they are and however they look, next time when you see them, please don’t be duped into believing that they are poor and have nothing to eat. They are probably richer than you are.

  8. No offence to anyone here, but,
    If those poor lady beggars were young and pretty, do you think they will be quickly snapped up as second or third wives with good and valid reasons? They want to care for them.

  9. We rarely see beggars in KL, PJ (where I’m currently live) and even back in my hometown in Kuantan.

    There used to be a lot of beggars in Kuantan town when I grew up but now it seems that the welfare department has done something and provide jobs and shelters for them.

    So I do believe what mahaguru58 said, those are seasonal beggers and only appear especially during the Ramadhan month.

  10. Malaysia is a free country you can sleep everywhere you want!!. Oh crap why they conquer the street and destroy the beuty of our Masjid Kapitan Keling?.

  11. this is what u called loving society ! i wish i can sleep on the street just like they do, but my situation doesn’t allow me to do so.

    household income rm2800, got mother, father, wife (full time housewife), and 3 kids to fed, pay house, car installment, etc, every month only incurred extra debt on credit card ! couple with the uncontrollable inflation in Malaysia …

    they keep talking about those mega projects like NCER, 2nd bridge, monorail in penang, but fellow penangites benefits nuts from those white elephant projects, it just makes u paid stupid toll in penang for the rest of your life !

    they keep building those millionaire condo and hike up the property prices in penang but the average joe can barely even afford a decent housing, say 150K …

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