Star 24 March 2009 : THE frantic appeal of a vagrant rang in the air as he was approached by Social Welfare Department officers in George Town.
“Sabarlah...sabarlah, jangan tangkap aku, aku nak berniagalah!” (be patient...be patient, don’t catch me, I want to trade).
The vagrant known only as Hamzah was picked up during one of the biggest raids against vagrants and beggars on Penang island this year on Sunday night.
When told by Komtar assemblyman Ng Wei Aik that he would be sent home, he replied: “Rumah? Saya tak ada rumah, sudah lama aku tak balik rumah. (Home? I don’t have a home, it’s been a while since I last returned home).
At one point, Ng gave chase to a homeless man who tried to run away. The man was cornered by a press member who chased him on a motorcycle.
The people were picked up around Komtar, Prangin Mall, Penang Road, Chowrasta Market, Chulia Street, Lorong Kulit, Datuk Keramat, Jelutong, Sungai Ujong, Muntri Street, Queen Street, King Street, Gurney Drive, Esplanade, Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling, Pulau Tikus, Tanjung Tokong and Weld Quay.
The raid was conducted by the Social Welfare Department, north-east district office, Rela, Penang Municipal Council, police, Islamic Affairs Department, Immigra- tion Department and Penang Hospital.
They used two Black Marias, two Immigration Department vans and an ambulance to transport those picked up.