Minister for Family, Women and Community Development, Dato Seri’ Rohani Abdul Karim should fulfil her promise and allow Members of Parliament to visit the Desa Bini Diri halfway home for the homeless in Sungai Buloh

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 17th of July, 2014

Last Sunday, on the 13th of July, Minister for Women, Family and Community Development, Dato Seri’ Rohani Abdul Karim said that “The perception spun is that we are about to catch them and put them in cells. That is not true. We don’t do that. Now we have the opposition parties wanting to go to Desa Bina Diri (centre for the homeless) in Sungai Buloh to see our facilities there because they think it is a cell. They are welcome to have a look.”[1]

I had written to the Minister almost a month ago, on the 23rd of June, asking for an official visit for interested Members of Parliament. On the 7th of July, I got in touch with the Minister’s private secretary, Encik Reza-Rizvy Ahmad, and repeated this request. Until today, despite the Minister’s promise in the Star newspaper to welcome us – the opposition parties – to have a look, I have not received any positive response from either the Minister or her private secretary.

The purpose of our visit is to ascertain the following:

(i)              Whether the residents are being held against their will
(ii)            Whether the residents are being given the necessary care to help them transition from homelessness. This would include access to mental health care professionals and proper medical treatment where necessary.
(iii)          Whether the residents are being matched with suitable training and jobs, if they are able to work in the first place
(iv)           Whether the residents have help to obtain proper documentation such as Identity Cards
(v)             Whether the facilities at this DBD is adequate to house the residents

This visit is all the more necessary after it was reported that some of the residents at the Sungai Buloh DBD are being held against their will.[2] Will the Minister live up to her promise of allowing opposition MPs to visit the Sungai Buloh DBD or will this be another example of a failed promise or janji tidak ditepati by the BN government?