Why Rich, White People Beg For Money On The Streets Of SE Asia

The “beggars” seemed to be selling postcards, playing expensive looking instruments like guitars and harmonicas, and posing happily for pictures.


In the majority of the world, most people beg to survive. However, a strange new trend is emerging in many Southeast Asian countries.

It seems white people are backpacking to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and other Asian countries to beg for vacation money. Yup, you read that right.

Photos of Western tourists have been doing rounds on social media and have gotten mixed reactions from netizens. The “beggars” seemed to be selling postcards, playing expensive looking instruments like guitars and harmonica, and posing happily for pictures while their own DSLR cameras sit beside them. Some also carry a postcard reading, “Please support our trip around the world.”

The sight of people begging with such expensive gadgets is bizarre, to say the least.







Not surprisingly, the locals were not amused by the travelers’ antics and say they are taking money from people who most need them to fund their entitled and luxurious lifestyles.

One Hong Kong native was furious to see it happening in her city, stating, “Check your entitlement at immigration and don’t lay claim to space and resources that aren’t, weren’t and never will be yours.”

A Malaysian woman identified only as Louisa, who is a student of political economics, told France 24 that white tourists believe they are entitled to do whatever they want when they visit exotic places.

“I want to ask these tourists: What makes you think that this kind of behavior is normal in Asia? Why don't you do the same thing at home?” she said.

Maisarah Abu Samah, who is from Singapore, was also enraged by the assumption.

“It was the first time I've seen something like that and it stopped me in my tracks. First of all, you don't see many people selling knick-knacks or playing music in the street in Singapore because there are strict rules governing these activities,” she said.

She is right. This kind of behavior is much more common in neighboring Thailand and Malaysia, but not in Singapore. It is illegal to busk in the country without a license and you have to get a license from the National Arts Council to perform in public. Also, only foreigners with work visa staying Singapore are permitted to busk, but only after getting permission from the Ministry of Manpower.

“We find it extremely strange to ask other people for money to help you travel. Selling things in the street or begging isn't considered respectable,” Samah added. “People who do so are really in need: They beg in order to buy food, pay their children's school fees or pay off debts. But not in order to do something seen as a luxury.”

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters

View Comments

Recommended For You