Foreign beggars who resort to oxygen mask to elicit sympathy leave netizens unimpressed

A POST on Malaysia Most Viral’s X (formerly Twitter) page has raised the ire of its followers. It shows a couple of foreigners – a man and a young boy – purportedly begging for alms at the Sungai Besi Ramadhan bazaar.

While the presence of foreigners begging at these bazaars is not uncommon, what the poster is highlighting is that these beggars are upping their game with all manner of props and signage to elicit sympathy.

In this case, the “father” is seen to be breathing with the aid of an oxygen mask.

The beggars are believed to be Rohingyas with the post having generated over 860,000 views at time of writing. Their “sales pitch” has elicited a lot of responses. Here is a sample.

Many questioned the veracity of the oxygen tank and that it was a mere gimmick to elicit sympathy.

A few said that being able to add such props to their efforts, these beggars were inadvertently highlighting how much they must be raking in.

The open hostility and overt racism was apparent in many of the comments.

Despite many Malaysians exhorting solidarity with Palestinians, it would appear many did not share the same sentiments towards the Rohingyas who are facing persecution in their homeland in Myanmar.

Forced repatriation and or even just sending them to drown at sea was this netizen’s considered response.

One netizen highlighted that Rohingyas are unable to work or send their children to schools in Malaysia unlike refugees from Palestine.

However, such attitude was questioned by one netizen who said while he did not support such beggars, he pointed out that such open animosity towards fellow Muslims was uncalled for.

More than a few decried that the refugee status afforded to these foreigners by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) has been abused by these visitors.

Some netizens suggested that the root cause of the problem was the lack of enforcement by the authorities which is further compounded by the generosity of locals in giving alms. This has caused many foreigners to choose this path of “employment”.

A few said these foreigners were taking advantage of the kind heartedness of locals before making all sorts of demands on the host community.

More than one netizen claimed to have seen the same duo at various Ramadan bazaars with the two taking turns to be the “sick” party.

The topic of foreigners on these shores is becoming an increasingly hot topic. If ordinary Malaysians are unhappy with the presence of migrant workers who are actually employed and contribute towards the economy, the depth of ill-feeling towards those engaged in begging activities can be gauged from the many negative comments accompanying the post.

The authorities will need to be more pro-active in ensuring these professional beggars do not become a proliferation at these Ramadan bazaars.

The government will also need to devise schemes whereby legitimate refugees have the opportunity to earn some form of sustenance to avoid scenarios such as this.

In the meantime, Malaysians need to understand that no matter how severe the problem may be, unbridled racism and exhortations of forced repatriation or worse, are not the solutions.

The simple short-term solution is for Malaysians to stop giving alms to these suspected con artists. When the funds dry up, so will these prop-wielding beggars. – March 18, 2024

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