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KUALA LUMPUR, July 26:

After a meeting days ago with the Federal Territories (FT) Ministry, soup kitchen operators are pleased to be able to carry out their mission of feeding the homeless.

This was due to the ministry’s discussion with the operators and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to lift the ban on soup kitchens’ operations within a 2km radius from Kuala Lumpur’s Lot 10 area in Jalan Bukit Bintang. While this means that soup kitchens need not relocate their operations, the ministry has yet to make the decision official.

Attempts byThe Rakyat Postto get confirmation on the decision by FT minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor were fruitless.

Speaking to Dapur Jalanan, its treasurer Mandeep Singh said that the ministry’s priority was the cleanliness of the areas in which soup kitchens operated and the ministry would carry out evaluation on soup kitchen operations from Aug 16.

“They said that the issue had been solved and they will do an evaluation from Aug 16.

“We made it clear to the ministry if after Aug 16 they impose a ban again, we will not move. Until there is even one person who needs food, we will be there,” he toldThe Rakyat Post.

He said they didn’t know what kind of evaluation it will be, but they had also demanded for the ministry to make a public statement on their decision.

Mandeep added that the ministry also agreed to hold regular town hall meetings with NGOs, but explained that it was also necessary for officials to also meet with the homeless personally.

“We can have meetings with NGOs, but again the affected people are the ones who should be consulted with,” he said.

Pertiwi Soup Kitchen founder Munirah Abdul Hamid was also pleased with the lifting of the ban, saying that cleanliness was something they want all soup kitchens to prioritise to ensure the ministry had no reason to question their operations again

Munirah said it was important for soup kitchens to follow certain standard operating procedures (SOP), such as avoiding the wastage of food and refraining from using polystyrene containers for food.

“Don’t leave cooked food next to someone who may be high or drunk.

“If someone is asleep, we would tap them and ask them if they want to eat. If they are hungry they’d get up immediately,” she toldThe Rakyat Post.

She said it was common for a homeless person to leave food lying on the floor if they weren’t hungry and this meant that the streets would be left dirty.

“Once you adhere to those things, there’s no question of food being discarded. They (officials) said we can continue, but don’t mess up like that,” she said.

But, at the same time, Munirah said officials should not solely blame soup kitchens for the messy streets.

“Sometimes, it’s also due to traders at markets nearby,” she said, hoping officials would investigate first before doing any finger pointing

When speaking to Kechara Soup Kitchen, project director Justin Cheah said he was happy that soup kitchens were allowed to continue operating as usual.

“We can continue to do what we have been doing. It’s good that the ministry came to that decision after a series of considerations.”

When asked if there were any changes in operations due to the evaluation that will be carried out by the ministry, Cheah said they would operate as they had been doing all along.

“We don’t have to change what we have been doing. We just need to take care of cleanliness. If there is rubbish, we must make sure we clean up.

“We will try to have more people to monitor the cleanliness,” he said.

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