Begging or vagrancy is a crime under Section 27(C) of the Minor Offences Act 1955 and many believe these ‘begpackers’ are more than capable of supporting themselves.
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‘Begpackers’, a combination of the words, begging and backpacking is an apparent problem here in Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia.
We’ve seen plenty of ‘world travellers’ (primarily Caucasian) coming to Malaysia to travel and then resort to begging from locals when they run out of money. With pristine and good-looking apparel, they ask for money to fund their dreams of travelling ‘around the world’.
Compare that with our own underprivileged folk begging on the street just for a bite to eat.
Couple Begging For Return Ticket
Recently, Malaysians spotted a Caucasian couple sitting on the streets of Bukit Bintang asking for money.
Twitter user Mischa Selamat posted a picture and video of the couple sitting in front of the Public Bank next to the Grand Millenium Hotel Bukit Bintang begging for money two days ago. The user, @Michellelanious, asked the public on whether the matter should be reported to DBKL or Immigration.
Ni patut report PDRM ka, DBKL? Atau Imigresen? pic.twitter.com/mR2JEbEtZI— 🏴Mi$¢ha $elamat🏴 #REVOLUSIS (@Michellelanious) January 31, 2023
In the picture, the note beside the piggy bank reads “Food & Return ticket” in Malay.
Many commented on the tweet and expressed their hatred towards these tourists that take advantage of our kindness.
Many believe that if they wanted to travel around the world, they should’ve planned their financials earlier before travelling.
Even if they are in great need of food or accommodation, their best action is to go to their embassy, not beg on the streets.
One user even pointed out that if Malaysians were the ones doing this in other Western countries, we would be arrested.
Mischa said the matter was reported to immigration and DBKL.
However, there are also some other people who think that they should be given mercy and that what they’re doing is not even illegal.
Is it a crime to beg in Malaysia?
According to one commenter, he stated that begging or vagrant is in fact a crime in Malaysia and he even stated which section to refer to.
Kesalahan bawah Seksyen 27(c), Akta 336, Seksyen 268, Kanun Keseksaan, Seksyen 8(3)(c) Akta Imigresen. Begging/vagrant is a crime.— Ahmad Ebak Malik (@mal_ae) February 1, 2023
In that particular section, it talks about begging in a public place.
According to Section 27(C) of the Minor Offenses Act 1955, anyone found begging in a public place when he or she is capable of earning a living can be fined up to RM100 or imprisoned.
There was a case a few years ago in 2016 where a Myanmar woman, mother of six children was fined RM100 for begging in public at Ampang Point.
They’ve been there awhile
A few weeks ago, another Twitter user also shared the same couple begging for money at the same spot.
Nature is healing. The begpackers are back 💕— DuckyMomoStanAcc (@HolyCannoli09) January 17, 2023
📍Bukit Bintang pic.twitter.com/IDVrapEQOK
In fact, a lot of people recognize this couple. That time, the note beside the piggy bank also reads “Need money for food and return ticket”.
Last year, a local influencer who was an ex-lawyer, Reina Lum, also mentioned this issue in her video, explaining why this is a problem in Malaysia.
@reinalum #stitch with @olalala9099 Org Msia ni mmg terlalu baik spi mkn diri 😅 #viralmalaysia #fypmalaysia #tiktokmalaysia #begpacker #whiteprivilege #traveltiktok #tourismindustry ♬ original sound – Reina Lum
Her video explained the comparison between us Malaysians going to their countries with exceptionally tough rules to even enter their land with sufficient funds and them travelling to our country effortlessly.
She pointed out that this situation is not fair and the begpackers are taking advantage of our local’s kindness.