• Wong Kay Li

The Homeless in Malaysia: Issues and Policy Solutions

By Wong Kay Li (P.104 Kelana Jaya Intern, 2017) Executive Summary:


  1. The purpose of this paper is to examine the current state of homelessness in Kuala Lumpur. Although there is an annual increase in the number of homeless people, not enough is being done to curb the problem. This can be attributed to the lack of understanding the rest of society has when it comes to affairs of the homeless.

  2. The paper explores possible factors that may lead an individual to become homeless. Examples of these include personal factors such as substance abuse or family breakdown, and structural factors such as unemployment and the lack of available low-cost housing. The problems the homeless face due to their homelessness is considered in section 6.

  3. This paper further reveals that the Destitute Persons Act 1977 inadvertently deprives the homeless of their fundamental rights and freedoms. These include the right to personal liberty, freedom of movement, right to property, and the right to due process.

  4. It is proposed that the current Act has been ineffective in solving the homelessness issue in Kuala Lumpur, and that a new and better Act should therefore be enacted in its place.

  5. Referencing the models of Singapore, Tokyo and Finland, several recommendations are made as to how the government can curb and end homelessness. There are a number of issues that this paper finds necessary to fix: 5.1 the fact that our minimum wage is not high enough to meet the rising costs of living, 5.2 the lack of affordable housing available in the city, and 5.3 the public’s perception of the homeless community.

  6. This paper concludes with the finding that it is more cost effective to increase the minimum wage than it is to build social housing for the homeless. It will provide the homeless with the necessary funds to support themselves and keep more people from ending up on the streets.