'RM1,200 a day' target for Chinese beggars in Malaysia
CRIPPLED and disfigured Chinese, who were deliberately maimed as kids, are sent in rotation to Malaysia to beg, reported The Star daily yesterday, which managed to get the inside story from two such beggars.
There were reports earlier in China - some as early as 2010 - on disabled Chinese being shipped to Malaysia to work for "begging" syndicates, but The Star's account seems to be the first to be recorded from the horse's mouth.
The Star's team trailed two other Chinese beggars from Friday to Sunday as the duo went around begging in Jonker Walk, Malacca's tourist hotspot, before heading back to their gang's base - a budget hotel - in Kuala Lumpur's Petaling Street.
Their shadowers observed that at least 30 other beggars, all maimed and disfigured, also returned to the same hotel.
They also saw a burly man, believed to be one of the two brothers running the gang, collecting all the money the beggars had "made" in the days and leaving with the boodle.
The Star team said it did not take any pictures as gang members could be seen lingering around to keep away prying eyes.
The team, however, managed to have a restaurant worker play interpreter for them when two beggars were willing to open up.
One, a 33-year-old named Xiu Yuan, claimed he was born healthy but was deliberately crippled by an organised crime gang in China.
"This large and powerful gang that keeps watch on us has connections in Malaysia," he told The Star.
He also claimed that he was kept captive for many years before being allowed to travel abroad.
The gang leader, known to them as "Tahkeh", allowed beggars to travel abroad only after they had earned his trust, said Xiu Yuan.
According to the beggar, the operation in Malaysia was run by the gang leader's younger brother, who brings in new faces into the country each month and sends back earlier ones.
"After two months, we come back here and continue begging.
"We've been doing this for many years," said Xiu.
His friend, Do Feng, 30, said the leader would hire taxis to take them to various tourist hotspots in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Penang.
"Our job is to collect a minimum of RM1,200 (S$397) a day," he said.
The leader takes 60 per cent of the day's "earnings" if they make the minimum amount, and the beggars get to keep the rest.
Do said they could make up to RM3,000 each during weekends, depending on the number of tourists.