Malaysia: Homeless people given household appliances

A homeless man at a soup kitchen Image copyright AFP
Image caption Charities say Malaysia's homeless population need food and clothes rather than electrical appliances

Homeless people who attended a government-run event in Malaysia were given household appliances as gifts, it's reported.

Two thousand invitations were sent out to disadvantaged people for the Ministry of Federal Territories' open house event, including 300 reserved for those sleeping rough, the Malay Mail reports. While the government usually gives out cash on such occasions, this time it decided to give presents. But the gifts selected - coffee-makers, electric whisks and cooking stoves - have raised eyebrows among some volunteer groups. "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," Munirah Abdul Hamid, founder of the Pertiwi Soup Kitchen in Kuala Lumpur, tells the website.

"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," she says, adding that food or clothing would have made better gifts. The federal territories minister, Tengku Adnan, concedes the event wasn't perfect, describing it as a "trial-and-error experience", and doesn't mind if people sell the gifts for money. "They can do as they please," he says. "Next year, we will improve and give something else to the homeless."

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