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13-10-2003, 09:21 PM
Monday October 13, 2003
Couple with 10 children told to leave 'home'

SUNGAI BULOH: An abandoned warehouse in Kampung Tengah here has been home for a couple and their 10 children for more than a decade, but the family may soon lose even this roof over their heads.

Things are looking grim for P. Ramalingam Kavender, 42, and R. Ratanakumari, 37, who have been dependent on handouts from neighbours and night market traders to feed and clothe their children.

The owner of the warehouse, where they have been staying with his permission, has asked them to find an alternative place, as he wants to develop the area.

The family’s plight was brought to the attention of MIC Youth chief S.A. Vigneswaran, who instructed Selayang MIC Youth chief P. Kamalanathan to visit them.

“I was shocked to see the condition of their home and the children when I came on Wednesday. It is very sad to see poor people living in such conditions without any assistance,” Kamalanathan told reporters at the couple’s home on Friday during a second visit.

He was there with MIC Youth Social and Welfare Bureau chairman T. Mohan to hand over rice, sugar, oil and other provisions as well as some old clothes to the family.

While the eldest boy, R. Katravan, 16, had run away from home, the other nine – seven boys and two girls aged between six months and 14 years – appeared oblivious to their parents’ predicament. They smiled at the visitors, and the older ones happily tried on the clothes.

Ramalingam said he had been seeking psychiatric treatment at Kuala Lumpur Hospital and had been in and out of hospital.

“Sometimes, when I am okay, I would do odd jobs to get some money. But since last Deepavali, when I was admitted for a month, I have not been able to find any job,” he said, adding that the family had never celebrated Deepavali as they could not afford to do so.

Ratanakumari said she would not think of parting with her children.

“My eldest daughter, Sumithra Devi, 14, has not gone to school because she does not have a birth certificate. Only four of them are going to a nearby Tamil primary school and I want them to excel in their studies,” she added.

She said the family had not received any assistance from any government department, as they did not know whom to approach.

Mohan said MIC Youth would help the family in getting provisions and new clothes for the children to celebrate Deepavali.

“We will liaise with the Welfare Department to provide them with some financial assistance,” he said, adding that they would also help in obtaining a low-cost flat for the family and resolving Sumithra’s birth certificate problem.

For enquiries, contact the MIC Youth Social and Welfare Committee at No. 12, Jalan PBP 5, Taman Industri, Pusat Bandar Puchong, 41700 Selangor, or Mohan at 019-211 9547 or 03-5882 3060.