KUALA LUMPUR, July 8:
Soup kitchens with their own premises will be allowed to operate in the city, regardless of the deadline to cease operations within a 2km radius of Lot 10 in Bukit Bintang.
Federal Territories Ministry secretary-general Datuk Adnan Md Ikhsan said the ministry was actually concerned with ad-hoc soup kitchens due to hygienic reasons.
“We are also worried by the fact that many homeless people refuse to budge as they know that people will come to them with food.
‘We want the soup kitchens to have a fixed place,” he told reporters after chairing a meeting with 12 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating soup kitchens this morning.
He said the deadline, supposedly to take effect today, would be extended until after Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
He said the ministry would also set up a laboratory or workshop to discuss short and long- term measures with NGOs on how to deal with the issue, including logistics, lodgings and funding.
On why Lot 10 was the focal point of the 2km radius, Adnan said the location was right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and also a tourist hub.
Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK) president Datuk Ruby Khong said the meeting had helped to clear much uncertainty over the directive, which had been made by Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.
“We will have another meeting with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) tomorrow to further discuss the matter.”
At the same time, she reiterated that it was unfair to blame the homeless and hardcore poor for dirtying the city.
“We have seen how pedestrians and road users dumped rubbish indiscriminately in the city.”
On claims by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim that tourists were also taking advantage of food provided by soup kitchens, Khong said this was shocking to them.
“There are times when we fetch the less fortunate senior citizens and children to our centre by chartered buses.
“This might have given the impression that tourists are coming to our soup kitchens.”
Pertiwi Soup Kitchen founder Munirah Abdul Hamid said they were fine with the explanation on why they wanted the soup kitchen operations to move out.
“The ad hoc feeding also needs to be looked into as there is no coordination between the different NGOs.
“This has resulted in leftover food on many occasions,” said Munirah.
She added that Pertiwi’s next step is to look at the map to determine future locations for soup kitchens.
“We do not have fixed premises in the city centre due to the high building cost.”
She cautioned that there was much more to be done and fine-tuned on the issue despite today’s meeting.