Tag: Kuala Lumpur

Soup Kitchen for Marginalized, Homeless Community in Kuala Lumpur

Homelessness and marginalization affects many countries, especially when development and urbanization grows unchecked by the government and ignored by society. Malaysia likes to highlight its modern cities and dramatic shift from an agriculture-based nation to a sophisticated civilization.

Yet behind the scenes, and often blatantly staring at your face, poverty and hardship grows in Kuala Lumpur, a self-declared city of successes.

On May 3 in KL, I observed a group of young volunteers, mobilized by Dapur Jalanan, providing free food and drinks to about 80 marginalized people, many of them Malaysians. Well organized, efficiently coordinated by empowered young Malaysians. Dapur Jalanan conducts food services once a week, on Sunday. If you’re interested to help or simply curious, do check out their site: https://www.facebook.com/dapurjalanankl

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Kuala Lumpur: Homelessness, Revisited

Homelessness is not a new societal dilemma in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, homelessness affect even beyond the urban and rural poor. Often communities struggle with high cost of living, poor mental health, societal stigmatization and unemployment.

Malaysia, with its 30-odd million people, is blessed with natural resources, surrounded by non-threatening neighbours, a wealth of knowledge left behind by her colonial masters. Malaysia, my country, has moved largely away from an agricultural nation, into the sophisticated, modern country that it is now, with Kuala Lumpur as its pulsing, growing heart of bourgeoisie appetite.

However with rapid urbanization, poor public administration, clueless NGOs and a money-hungry society which seems to enjoy feeding upon itself, the marginalization of communities has grown. Homeless folks, visibly more Malaysians than foreigners, some from the distant shores of Malaysia’s Borneo, of Sabah and Sarawak. They, and some with their families, flock the roads, back lanes, the commercial centres and the capitalistic monuments of modern development. Yet despite their visibility, they find that the middle-class urbanites and elites are more often uninterested in helping the poor, those in need. Class-based prejudice, sometimes infused with racism, and even xenophobia, is the dominating component that makes Kuala Lumpur what it is now.

A city, filled with loss.

Elder, homeless and begging in the heart of capitalistic Kuala Lumpur.
Elder, homeless and begging in the heart of capitalistic Kuala Lumpur.
A temporary home, in plain sight of corporate offices. Yet urban society ignores the homeless, maybe hoping they would simply disappear.
A temporary home, in plain sight of corporate offices. Yet urban society ignores the homeless, maybe hoping they would simply disappear.
Urbanites usually ignore the plights of Malaysians and foreigners who are homeless in the city.
Urbanites usually ignore the plights of Malaysians and foreigners who are homeless in the city.
Modernisation of Kuala Lumpur. Only the elites enjoy true luxury and comfort.
Modernisation of Kuala Lumpur. Only the elites enjoy true luxury and comfort.
This couple does not appear to be hungry or homeless, but they were begging near KL Sentral.
This couple does not appear to be hungry or homeless, but they were begging near KL Sentral.
Under the scorching sun, surrounded by Malaysian monuments of development, this man begs for coins.
Under the scorching sun, surrounded by Malaysian monuments of development, this man begs for coins.

 

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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As if people cared about the urban poor

The homeless and urban poor in Kuala Lumpur are an invisible community. They roam about the city, hidden by the shadows, or trying to earn the daily wage in the filthy back lanes from some odd job that most working class Malaysians won’t want to get their hands dirty. Whether the poor are locals or foreigners, it matters not to Malaysian society, the Institution does not seem to see nor positively react to the presence of the untouchables.

They are rendered invisible from societal prejudice, and when it suits the high society, the rich, the marginalized suddenly become visible once or twice a year during festive holy days when charity becomes a norm in front of photographers and ass-kissing reporters who have received a generous gift to write a story about some corporate social responsibility of a company or the “generosity” of a politician.

Stigmatization of the urban poor happens simply because people stopped caring for those without money and due to their lowered station in life. Society depends on NGOs to “clean the streets” of the undesirables, or what do they call them, “remove them for their own good” as someone said to me.

As if society cares for the struggles and lives of the poor. As if NGOs know what to do.

homeless in Kuala Lumpur

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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On a suffocating day like this, what I need is…

I don’t mind the heat, but I dislike the intense humidity. Almost a choking sensation in this part of the world.

I saw the van, a while-coloured vehicle under the shade and partially surrounded by sad-looking trees. The man who operated the mobile food stall was selling cendol, a local delicacy suitable for a damning humid day.

Cendol, made from crushed ice, is served with a bit of this and a bit of that, but always with a generous serving of ‘gula melaka’ « a sweet darkish sugar. Want to know more, please google it. I’m too lazy to explain.

Anyway, cendol, alas, a life saver. Always good to know that its readily available in many parts of Malaysia. In the mean time, I shall stop grumbling.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Limited space in a low-cost housing

Low cost housing in Kuala Lumpur. They do exist with a catch. The lack of space. Kuala Lumpur is small, if you compare it with Jakarta or Bangkok, with a small, but growing, population of urban poor. These apartments are small some with only two bedrooms, with two families living in painfully cramped quarters.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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I found myself staring at the notorious cement-jungle city

After a long absence from some parts of Kuala Lumpur, I made an eager visit. For a couple of night, despite the horrible pollution, I found myself staring at the notorious cement-jungle city.

Public transportation in the city is too expensive, especially the taxi AND if you’re a tourist. However besides the train/LRT – which is somewhat affordable – I would recommend walking. But don’t expect the ever-growing city to be kind to your feet.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Cutthroats on the roads, taxi drivers looking for $$$

It is a heavy burden nowadays to find a decent taxi driver who won’t charge you heaven and earth for a 15-minute ride through the normal rush hour in Kuala Lumpur – weekday or weekend. On second thoughts I should not use the word “decent” when referring to the notorious Malaysian taxi drivers. Quite an idiotic bunch, greedy pirates on wheels racing through busy streets, looking for an unfortunate prey who’s desperate enough to pay insane prices to get home or rushing to the office for an urgent meeting.

To those considering a trip to the city you may as well take the bus or LRT – you will save more and it beats trying to negotiate with the taxi driver who would grin sarcastically as you lose your temper. Yes avoid the road pirates, avoid them like the deadly plague. Less headaches for tourists and locals. Taxi drivers don’t discrimate much, when they know you need (desperately) a ride, they will painfully strangle you out of your cash. Though they do have a fetish for overcharging tourists from the middle east, so if you are not from this region – good!

Remember what I said, avoid the taxi, ignore them as the blink their lights or wave at you. Walk away, do not look back. Head to the nearest bus station. Or else you will regret the experience.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Feet taking me to a slightly cheerful part of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur. There’s a rising phenomenon for tourists and locals alike to visit the commercial centre of the city, mainly to submerge in the shopping mania. I don’t fully understand why people would want to shop in this part of town, with the high prices and irritating traffic clogging the roads. Unless of course one is looking at an opportunity to rub shoulders with the ultra elite of Malaysian society.

You can find small pockets of traditional homes and privacy around KL, one of which is located in Taman Maluri and another one in Pandan Jaya. Despite the abrupt modernisation of society, I found these parts to be relaxing. Affordable local spicy food, sunshine and people who seem friendlier than those living in the heart of the city. Here you don’t have to sink into delusions, the folks are simple, offering warm-hearted smiles.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Amazing Thailand in Malaysia

Two boys taking a break

Two boys taking a break

Legs feeling tired, but eagerly waiting for the LRT to arrive. LRT is the cheapest mode of transport (though limited access) around some parts of Kuala Lumpur. Can’t trust the taxi drivers who are infamously known for not using the meter and taking their customers around the city » basically a murderous rip-off.

Two boys, as tired as me, chatting on the floor. I noticed that Thailand extensively promotes their “Amazing Thailand” in Malaysia ~ something I find quite amusing. More and more Malaysians make their yearly holidays of fun or family in Indonesia. The tourism in Siam has been severely affected by the post-flood of 2011, the global recession and the violent bombings in Bangkok and the South.

The LRT is near, I best focus on my journey, least I miss the ride and end up sitting beside the boys, dreaming of Thailand.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Travelling to Masjid Jamek. A different light.

Travelling across Malaysia’s capital – Kuala Lumpur. Invigorating walk. An old mosque, Masjid Jamek, stood unsteadily near a river, surrounded by buildings and the annoying honks of the never-ending traffic. A handful of street vendors selling fruits and cooling drinks, partly hiding in the shades away from the blistering sun. And my travels take me further…

 

 

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Thailand
This work by Moui is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Thailand.
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