Monday 30 March 2020

Please help our hawkers, don't hate Taiwan

This one is quite long and I don't even know who wrote it, but my mother asked me this morning to share it in this blog with the hope that more people will read it as do the minister in charge or people with authority.

I don't think this blog is that influential but I need to try as I can't let my mother down, okay.

So, here it is;

It is Day 11 of the Malaysian Movement Control Order (MCO) due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and I have a tale to tell.  A tale unfortunately not borne out of fiction, but firmly rooted in a sobering reality. 

This morning I experienced first hand, a distinct sector of society which has slipped under the radar.  Or at least which has brought me to my knees in re-evaluating my role as a citizen in my community.

And that sector is our local neighbourhood coffee shop hawker and gerai makan. 

11am: As the head of the household, I made my way out for a grocery run (as is what is allowed within MCO rules). While driving, I passed one of my favourite local hawker coffee shops and unexpectedly saw that 3 hawker stalls were open. 

It was ages since I had a good greasy chicken rice meal so I proceeded to order from the chicken rice seller, 3 packets of chicken rice. While going about his usual way of preparation, he started lamenting that his daily sales now is only around RM140 but he has to open shop from 7am-11pm. 

To put it in a nutshell, he has to work 16 hours to just sell Chicken Rice and survive between rm100-180 a day. 

He continued that if business went on for 2 more weeks like this, he would go out of business. 

His next response shocked me. He begged me to come back and buy from him for which he then gave me extra meat in my packets, in the hopes that would seal the deal and I would come back that night. 

It was at that moment I realized that yes, all sectors are hit badly because of this MCO (which is unavoidable and IMHO, a necessary long term manoeuvre) but the really small coffeeshop hawkers and gerais are at the most vulnerable. 

I began a conversation with him and a few things which he pointed out, emphasized his hardship. 
1. He couldn’t go and register himself on an ecommerce site or platform due to him being illiterate and having near zero technological knowledge. 
2. He said he considered house delivery but delivery fees were at a minimum of RM5 so he couldn’t afford it and no customer would be willing to pay a jump of 200% for chicken rice. 
3. He heard from people about the recent Economic stimulus and although he qualifies for some of the incentives, many hawkers like him, are not willing to contact the IRB due to various reasons because of a checkered past (perhaps certain troubled run-ins with the law) and warranted/unwarranted fear towards the government. 
4. Why did he have to remain open instead of staying home and waiting for this MCO to end? His response was akin to a traditional malay saying “kais pagi makan pagi, kais petang, makan petang” 

I tried to persuade him to let me assist him financially or at least help him with some of the technology woes he had, but he kept deflecting and saying that my patronage of his business is good enough for him. 

When he said that, I felt a wave of emotion sweep over me. One not just of guilt, but of shame because of my ignorance. You see, my family and I have been very comfortable for the past 11 days, utilizing convenient delivery services such as Grab Food and FoodPanda everyday since MCO day 1.

We even enjoyed the occasional bout of home cooking and it was laughter around the house, while at the exact same time, there was an Uncle sitting in his chicken rice stall waiting 16 hours for a mere 10 customers per day. 

8pm: I came back that night, bought half a chicken and slipped him an extra big note into his money tray without him noticing to try and appease my guilt but I think that is why I am compelled to write this. 

For those of us who fall within the same scenario, where we are comfortable within our four walls , indulging in the diverse offerings of Grabfood/Foodpanda or even have been cooking at home the whole time during the MCO and trying out new bold recipes, perhaps it is time to play our roles as citizens of our local communities, where we can show some love to our local hawkers who are stuck with no choice, by helping them through this time of crisis by making it a point to “Tarpao” and “Bungkus” from them, besides also saying a prayer for them, because once this MCO ends, it would be a sad day for our community when we have to start having conversations as to whatever happened to our favourite chicken rice hawker stall down the street.

For those who already have been buying from your local hawkers, I applaud you 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 For the rest of us, perhaps we could practice these steps: 
1. As a family, pick out your regular hawker stall around your neighbourhood. 
2. Get your head of the household to swing by and check whether they are open during one of his/her grocery runs. 
3. If they are open, drop by and buy some breakfast, lunch, dinner. 
4. Give them a little bit of encouragement by having some small talk or conversation with them to brighten up their day. 
 #supportyourlocalhawker #supportyourlocalgerai *

I did not upload a picture or information of the real chicken rice hawker stall or the owner’s face due to his request, in which he only asked me to share his plight and the plight of other hawkers like him to let the world know the seriousness of this situation on ground. 

Your single action today, albeit how small your takeaway order might be, will be able to alter the course of destiny for each of these hawkers who in this period of distress, need us to show our solidarity as Rakyat Malaysia and practice the evergreen and holy virtue of "Loving Your Neighbour".

Why my mother wanted me to share this particular story?

It's because my grandmother used to be a fried kuey teow hawker and my mother as a small kid, used to help out at the stall.

My grandmother used to run a fried kuey teow stall like this

She used to tell me that my grandmother's stall collected about RM100 per day and maybe about RM200 during weekends, half of which had to go to fix costs like cooking materials, rental payment, gas and electricity bills, etc.

She said she was a happy child though, and most delighted when it's time when my grandmother counted their meagre earnings at the end of each day.

My mother went to study at a Chinese school after winning a scholarship and later worked at a restaurant in Singapore for two years before offered another scholarship from Taiwan to further her studies in that country.

In those days, only Taiwan offered scholarship for our Chinese school graduates. The communist government in Beijing only did so in recent years.

That actually explains my affection for Taiwan and why I always defended Malaysia's Chinese education system and schools which offered better education for children of poor Chinese families such as my mother's.

As for Taiwan, it helped a girl from a poor hawker family in Malaysia to further her education, and that girl is my mother. So, I'm grateful to Taiwan because of that.

Okay, I know, some people made a lot of noise over a misleading statement by a Taiwanese lawmaker about the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia several days ago.

But, come on guys, the man had since apologised and in the first place, he didn't even represent Taiwan as a whole.

Please don't hate Taiwan just because of one man's mistake. After all, this Covid-19 pandemic was not even started in Taiwan.

Well, this post is indeed quite long. Hopefully you all have the patience to read it till the end.

I better stop here, okay.

Let's do our best to help each other, especially those in more need than us during this Covid-19 war.

Take care, stay safe, cheers.


  1. Frm yr story we can deduce;

    1. APEK - In good times this Apek had long practised social distancing. Tidak participate in community activities, that cld not care less kind of attitude... what happens around him is none of his business!

    b. Could not care less the wakil rakyat he voted for, otherwise tht shld be d first person to approach for whatever problems he has ie business or even personal matters.

    So now faced wth such difficult situation he has no place to turn to?

    2. ADUN/MP kawasan - is simply HOPELESS. Tak lekang mulut konon nak tolong rakyat? Mana pi itu janji2?

    b. Or a parachute wakil rakyat, not a local but face appears on posters during election campaigns only ke? Tak kenal wakil macam mana Apek pangkah? Salah dia la apasal mengeluh sekarang?

    What your mum shld have done was just ONE CALL to the wakil rakyat to help this APEK.

    ...Thats what we did all these 60+ years under UMNO/BN. Apa guna ade ketua kampung, ketua kawasan/ bahagian, ketua UMNO, ketua Pemuda, ketua Wanita or even the Church or temple committee of his kawasan??

    These wakil rakyat are paid tons of monthly pay and allowances and given allowances to take care of their kawasan ma!

    My simple advise, ask this Apek to approach his wakil rakyat.

    Professor Nasi Lemak

  2. Aiit... kat mana... dalam tulisan berwarna biru diatas.. bercerita pasai Bangsa penjual nasi-ayam tu?

    Jangan-jangan Prof. Nasi Lemak nampak gambar 'Fried Kuey Teow - Teo Chew + some tulisan Cina... terus dia sangka artikel diatas bertujuan untuk bantu perniaga warong-Cina.

    Hang nak suruh 'Apek' tu cari ADUN/MP Kawasan-DAP ka?

    Hang lupa ka... Kerajaan Tebok-Atap sudah beku atau sekat peruntukan keWANGan untuk beberapa wakil-Pembangkang?

    Ehmmm... racist betol pemikiran Penyokong Kerajaan Tebok-Atap... Melayu-Islam ni.

    Dalam keadaan Negara diancam penularan COVID-19, takkan nak bantu mereka yang mengalami kesusahan-hidup pun, mesti berlandaskan kaca-mata perkauman?

    Hang ingat... Pakej Rangsangan Ekonomi RN250 Billion tu... khusus untuk masyarakat Melayu-Islam saja ka?

  3. To be honest, I don't and can"t see any 'plight' besetting the chicken rice hawker as depicted in the tale. Forsooth, there are hundred-thousands or more whose conditions are far worse off than the hawker. The poorest of the poor, those underprivileged who are the worst-paid live a hand-to-mouth existence, hardly get enough very basic needs and other essentials on a daily basis. These trying times and gruelling life that endlessly weigh them down. Things have become ever thorny and challenging during MCO period for them. Some have been forced to take unpaid leave and even threaten being laid off. More so, all non-essential businesses have to comply to order by shutting down all activities altogether which signifies zero cash-flow and a standstill situation. So, in the case of the mentioned hawker, he is considered as lucky since his nature of business allows him to continue carrying out the operation despite earning a meager income. What else does he want? Does he expect crowds throng into his stall to buy up all his food in the midst of disease spreading like wildfire? Now, come on, be realistic and reasonable to the current circumstance where the savings for the rainy day come in good use. All in all, he has to accept to the fact that thing is now no longer the same as before and not even in the aftermath of Covid-19. Everyone will have to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best, if there is any.

    1. what are these people shooting???????

      annine any idea??????

  4. From what I read in the story written in blue, I think the hawker himself is to blame. It is not government’s fault or anyone fault. Or the recent economic stimulus package announced by prime minister is at fault for not being good enough for small business people like him. It is actually quite all encompassing and is tailored suit to SMEs and self-employed. He clearly qualified for a number of assistance such as under B40 or M40, the same as Mak Cik Kiah but he chosed not to apply due to his own doings such as:

    1. He’s afraid to apply through IRB because he’s afraid IRB will find out or trace his tax records. He probably under declared or underpaid his tax before or not paying at all. He is afraid IRB would find out the truth and he’s ended up ordered to pay tax arrears running up to hundred thousands or even millions.

    Is this government’s fault? Nope it is his fault. He probably made good money before this when the sun shines every single day before the covid 19 hit. His tax return too under-declared. He must have had stashed away some good fortune away for rainy day.

    2. He said he does not know how to register online to apply for the assistance because he does know how to use the internet. Is this excuse holds water?? I mean hello...In Malay, there’s a saying “Kalau nak seribu daya, kalau tak nak seribu dalih..” (If you desperately want something, you’ll figure out a thousand ways how to achieve it, but if you don’t want it so badly, you’ll look for a thousand excuses).

    He actually could simply ask someone who knows computer and IT to do it for him. He could always ask his children, his family, relatives, someone he close to, to do it on his behalf if he does not trust strangers. Even if he’s that so illiterate or ignorance, can’t speak and write Malay properly, there’s an MCA office nearby or Dewan Perniagaan Cina, Persatuan Peniaga Cina nearby to help him out. You see there’s a lot of ways how to get assistance if you’re willing to put some effort into it so you could apply for the incentives.

    The problem with this kind of people is that they live in their own bubble. In their own world. They don’t give a foot what the hell happening around them. Don’t ask don’t care. Their everyday life centred around the hawker stall and regular customers who frequented their stall.

    The MCO caught them off guard and throw them off balance. All of a sudden there’s no customers. A life they gotten used to suddenly change and he is caught unprepared. Reality hit him the face so hard. It’s getting hard to get used to new normal. Only then he realizes there’s something beyond his control and FORCED to ask for a favour. Asking for assistance. Before this he thought he could do all by himself. The predictability of life he used to has gone. New reality makes him humbled.

    It’s going to take a long time before things get back to normal.

    1. If you read the story more carefully, you should notice that the hawker and the person who wrote the story was not blaming the government or hoping much for its assistance. They, and I believe other hawkers like the one in the story, are merely hoping for their community to continue buying food from them so that they and their source of income may survive this pandemic.If my grandmother is still a hawker, she would probably be hoping for the same thing and not actually begging for government's help. She probably wouldn't even know that the government would help her in this sort of situation.


    2. Siapa mau kasi salah , itu virus kasi salah maa aa ,apa pasat lia latang Malaysia lor rr.

      Ini hilup atak masa tengelam atak masa timbul ,masa itu tengelam punya jam kasi usha mau timbul lor rr ,kalau titak telus habit maa aa.

      Semua olang susah sikalang maa aa ,atak olang mau makan pon sutak tatak ada lor ,lagi mau complain maa aa .

      Hai Yaa......".

    3. Hi Annie,

      So, the article paints the picture like this:

      1) Hawkers Type 1: Stimulus package from Government? Nope. Nuh uh. No thanks. Me afraid of IRB. Me fear that Big Brother.

      2) Hawkers 2: What's this gibberish about online application and IT etc? Me don't have any children, relative, friends, neighbours, that can help me do this. Nope. Too complicated. Me won't embrace technology.

      3) HAWKERS 1 and 2: Sooooo. You people need to buy food from us! Please pretty please! Eyh why you give me 100 bucks? You think us beggars ah? Just buy the food only...

      - FM

    4. Anon06:43
      Whatever lah. If you have set your mind on having no sympathy for these hawkers, then never mind. I ll try to help them anyway because I believe I understand them and their needs. As I said my grandmother used to be one of them. We tend to sympathise more with people like ourselves.

  5. Haiyaaa.

    Kan dah habaq, from the story can deduce he is a typical APEK!

    Professor Nasi Lemak

  6. PKHKC Nasi Lemak is a racist Melayu scum.
    Nothing changed.