The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has shared plans to establish a working group to find solutions for people who beg, both those living with disabilities and those without.

The aim is to find them a productive means of earning a livelihood, whether through work as professional musicians, or via vocational training.

Chap To, ministry undersecretary of state, said on February 28 that meetings were currently underway to determine the precise makeup of the working group, but that an announcement will be made soon.

He explained that the issue was not a new one, with the ministry determined to offer alternate occupations to people who could be seen begging at traffic lights, or singing at intersections and asking for donations.

To added that once the working group – of officials from various ministry units – is formed, it will work with the capital and provincial authorities to identify the ideal solution. He suggested that formal concerts could be organised, so singers could raise living expenses through ticket sales and donations in a structured way, rather than on the Kingdom’s roadsides.

“The working group will be focused on facilitating livelihoods for them. If they are capable singers or musicians, we may hold concerts, or arrange for them to be hired at bars or restaurants, while those without musical talent will be offered vocational training,” he said.

“The necessary paperwork is almost completed, so we expect the ministry to approve the formation of the working group any time soon,” he added.

Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation (CDPO) programme manager Chhor Bunnaroath believed the new mechanism will complement the existing ones.

“The formation of the new body will be of great benefit to the people with disabilities who earn their livings near traffic lights and intersections. They are doing it as they receive no other support, so finding them alternatives is a far better option than simply attempting to stop them from doing the only job they know,” he said.

Bunnaroath observed that most of the people with disabilities begging at intersections are blind, meaning it is difficult for them to find independent work doing anything but singing.

He expected that the forthcoming working group will find better places for them to sing and raise funds, or organise appropriate vocational training.