SINGAPORE: A group of Singaporeans online have raised concerns after observing that there seem to be “a lot of foreign beggars in Singapore now,”, especially at hawker centers.

One Reddit user noted in a post this week that when he eats out at hawker centres, he often gets approached “by foreign-looking ladies holding a placard saying they’re deaf and need money and they’re ‘selling’ keychains or plushies.”

The post author noted that while there have been handicapped locals who have been begging in Singapore for some time now, they appear to have decrease in number over the years.

“I want to comment on the need to beg while being deaf but I doubt that they are even deaf,” he wrote, adding that his wife has even encountered foreigners who were not deaf but who were “openly begging” for money for food “because they lost money at MBS”.

He asked, “What can be done to stop this nonsense? It’s annoying and they physically touch people to get their attention.”

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His post has received a lot of attention on Reddit, receiving over 200 comments and showing that his experience may not be an unusual one.

In one much-upvoted comment, a Reddit user claimed that the beggars are “fake,” meaning, they are not really deaf. “I know basic sign language and tried communicating with them. Most will look stunned/shocked and walk away when you sign to them lol,” he wrote.

Others pointed out that begging is against the law. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said last year, “Begging in Singapore is prohibited under the Destitute Persons Act. There is no licence for it.”

Some Reddit users pointed out that at least in Singapore, unlike in Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan, there are no “begpackers,” tourists who make their way through a country by asking for money from others. Others noted how annoyed they get when beggars repeatedly and persistently tap or poke them to get their attention.

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Multiple commenters mentioned the places where they’ve seen beggars recently, including Sentosa, Paya Lebar, Jurong Point, Yishun, and Chong Pang, while others mentioned that they’ve encountered them inside malls, shops, and eateries.

The Independent Singapore reached out to the Singapore Police Force for comment on the situation. SPF has declined to comment on the matter given the confidential nature of police probes. /TISG

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