The Federal Territories Ministry held a high-tea and open house event during last month’s Christmas season, where a group of KL’s homeless were invited as guests.
The event kept to its Christmas theme by giving out presents to those in attendance but minister Tengku Adnan Mansor’s choice of stocking stuffers could have been a little bit better thought out.
See, the homeless people attending the event were given gifts of kitchen and electrical appliances; things one would find useful were one to have, you know. A home.
According to a report by Ida Nadirah of the print edition of the Malay Mail, Pertiwi Soup Kitchen founder Munirah Abdul Hamid said while she was pleased that the ministry wanted to treat the homeless community, the nature of the gifts handed out to them was a sobering surprise.
“It was a nice gesture and although I think those gifts might have been sponsored, we must understand these people don’t even have a place to stay, let alone a place to operate their coffee maker or cooking stove,” she said.
“Some of them came up to me and asked if I would like to buy the appliances as money would have been more valuable to them.”
Munirah added that she was contacted by a ministry officer prior to the event, and was asked what gifts would have been appropriate for the homeless.
“I suggested food for a few days or maybe even clothing. Other than that, no,” she said.
There was also a strict head count for the attendees.
“We received emails, asking each NGO to bring only about 100 homeless persons,” she said.
“We had to hand out little cards to the homeless for them to write their names and MyKad numbers and bring them to the open house.”
The amount of homeless people who turned up exceeded what the ministry allocated for, resulting in a shortage of food and refreshments at the event.
Munirah said the homeless did not understand the concept of exclusivity and many wanted to attend the event.
“Some came without invitation and so the food was insufficient. I suggest the ministry have it on a fair platform with inclusiveness the next time because if not, then they are being selective,” she said.
Tengku Adnan himself acknowledged that the event – his ministry’s first attempt at a Christmas celebration — could have been better handled.
“We understand and appreciate the feedback from NGOs but since it was the first time, it was also a trial-and-error experience for us,” he said.
“Next year, we will improve and give something else to the homeless.”
“I know more than expected came but we did not stop them from coming. However, the food was catered for 2,000 guests and there was not enough for more,” he added.
“But I am happy with the outcome as everyone had fun and I am satisfied with the support of the NGOs.”