Two days ago, I was having lunch with 3 friends in Tg. Aru when man came over begging at our table. He did not say a word or even tried to put on a sad demeanor but just put out his hand somewhere between our half-eaten food and our jaws. Before I had a chance to shoo him away, one of my companions gave the beggar a 10 Ringgit note. Now I know this particular beggar for I have seen him working the coffee shops and eateries of Kota Kinabalu for a long time. Now, as was more than10 years ago, this man has no discernable disabilities or infirmities. He looked healthy, not unkempt, and wearing everyday clothes without even a single hole or tear. I had always refused him whenever I come across him, or should I say in this case, he coming across me.
Yesterday, while having breakfast, I was approached by two pleasant-looking Chinese ladies. One was carrying a donation tin while the other was carrying a large poster written with Chinese texts except for the word ‘Haiti’ and printed with pictures of Haitian earthquake victims. It appeared like they were appealing to people’s sense of charity to help Haitians…except that they spoke Mandarin in a foreign accent. I asked them in English if they speak Bahasa Malaysia but they just showed me their blank faces. Suspecting something, I told them I will only donate if they showed their ICs (identity Cards). Would you believe it? They didn’t know what I was talking about. I was about to demand their passports when they scampered away, presumably to look for more donations from non-suspecting people. I suspect the couple were two mainland Chinese on tourist visas running a scam that banks on the goodness of people.
Bottom line: if you want to help, donate to an established charitable organization, and don’t hand it out on the streets. Remember the New York bag lady who died and left hundreds of thousands of dollars to her cats?