Monday, July 22, 2013

Prospects for traditional wear still shine bright despite rising preference for tees and jeans

Of skills and patienc e: Workmanship for intricate cheongsams can cost me RM100 a day.
Of skills and patienc e: Workmanship for intricate cheongsams can cost me RM100 a day.
Whoever says traditional wear is only popular with the older set, should pay Kong Yoon Yoon, director and chief designer of Emerald Brilliant, a visit.
Captain of a six-branch cheongsam boutique, Kong may be 64 this year but the girls who don her outfits are half her age. Making a very sexy splash this year alone is the parading of some 100 pieces of Kong’s creations at the Miss Qipao and Miss Malaysia Kebaya pageants, where she has been wardrobe sponsor for two years. Her coterie of followers includes Leng Yein, an entrepreneur and model famed for her bombshell looks.
It all began when a customer stole nine pieces of her cheongsam put up for display 40 years ago.
“She was a rich lady who drove a BMW. Story has it that she became mentally unbalanced when her fiancee went overseas. This lady came in one day with some nasi lemak for my seamstresses and while they were distracted, she made off with my cheongsam. She confessed later, explaining the inability to resist because the dresses were so beautiful,” recalls Kong.


Brilliant and beautiful-Sticking to her roots has paid off for Kong (in shocking pink) and her youngest son, Ryan Sim (2nd from left).
Brilliant and beautiful: Sticking to her roots has paid off for Kong (in shocking pink) and her youngest son, Ryan Sim (second from left).


Instead of taking the episode negatively, Kong decided to go into making cheongsam full time, making custom-made orders her main income churner.
“It is not unusual for us to make RM10,000 from the sale of six to seven long gowns when you factor in the embroidery and sequin work. But costs can be higher too as some requirements may take a month to complete. In such cases, workmanship alone can cost me RM100 a day,” Kong said.
When it comes to fashion, it pays to stick to one’s roots. Today, 40 seamstresses work fulltime to churn out 30 pieces a day for Kong’s outlets.
Last year, sales reportedly touched RM2.1mil and the inventory in each outlet is kept at a par of RM50,000.
When it comes to tradition, one does not necessarily need to be an old-timer to get ahead.


By this Ramadhan, Sofia Iman will have 10 outlets spread out in Klang Valley. Each store will hold RM 1 million in product inventory.
Getting ready: Sofia Iman will soon have 10 outlets spread out in the Klang Valley, with each store costing up to RM1mil to renovate and stock.


Sofia Iman, which offers traditional songket and baju Melayu, is only 10 years old. Their first order, recalled founder Faralina Abdul Wahab, 37, was only 30 pieces worth RM30,000. This Ramadan, production is expected to reach 5,000 pieces of baju Melayu with an offering of 3,000 songket designs for the sampin. Annual turnover for 2012 was RM1.2mil and this year, they are targetting to hit the RM2.5mil mark.
Topping this up is the opening of 10 outlets in Bangsar, Subang Jaya, Ampang, Bandar Utama and Shah Alam.
Each outlet will cost Faralina close to RM1mil to stock and renovate. thThis move is expected to increase yearly sales by 30% to 40%.
Faralina explained that the market for traditional wear was evergreen.
“The baju Melayu and sampin are engrained in our culture. Occasions like the weekly Friday prayers, kenduri and weddings call for traditional wear. What one needs is a good marketing strategy,” Faralina said.
At Sofia Iman, sales are targetted at the middle income group and a peek into their client list reveals appointments with Malaysia Airports, Istana Negara and Maybank, among many others.
Prices may range from RM380 per set and up to RM20,000 to RM30,000 for 2.5 meters of the more exclusive, high-end songket designs.
Ultimately, quality and service will separate the wheat from the chaff.
At Sofia Iman, staff are given motivational talks and trained to understand the company’s philosophies on selling approaches, a one month process. In a landscape which puts them neck-and-neck with no less than 10 competitors, the winning edge will ultimately rely on providing clients with the ‘feel good’ experience.
Over at the Emerald Brilliant headquarters, though there is a big sign in her shop that says goods sold are not returnable, this will soon change.
“In our store, we have a policy — Every customer who wears our cheongsam should elicit a lot of oohs and aahs. This, in a way, is also word-of-mouth advertising for us. If the dress does not fit, the customer will keep our cheongsam hidden in her wardrobe. If this is the case, how is she going to do word-of-mouth advertising for us?” Kong asked.
Bringing modern elements to old school designs is another factor.
Kong is one who has given this plenty of thought.
“I have more than 1,000 designs in my shop at any one time so customers will always find something they like,” she said.
Her main concern now is in improving the sizing system for a better fit.
“Currently, we only have five standard sizes, carrying a difference of 2 inches between each size. By expanding the range to 10 sizes, we’ll be able to give our customers a better fit. This will come in use when we start operations in KLIA2, where there will be little time for alterations,” said Kong.
At Sofia Iman, colours are in the brightest hues. Neon greens, shocking pinks and bright orange shades are added into songket weaves, marrying the latest technology in Japanese thread and the expert weavers from the Losong village in Terengganu. At one go, a shopping bill for the purchase of thread easily touches RM50,000.
The hard part is dealing with the eccentric nature of the weavers.
“The weavers are very true to their craft and they refuse to be hurried.
“One piece can take up to four months as some of them are also silat teachers and housewives who have the tendency to leave their work to do other household chores. So you must be very patient with them. Of course, there are the speedy ones but their results are not as good,” Faralina said.
Prospects in traditional wear are equally bright for heirs and sales staff.
Kong revealed how she got her youngest son, Ryan Sim, 28, who is now marketing director interested in her business — by playing the numbers game.
“I knew if I only had one shop bringing in a revenue of only RM10,000 a month, it would not sound lucrative to him at all. So, 10 years ago, I decided to expand.
“The logic was if one shop could bring in RM10,000, then having six shops would multiply our revenue sixfold.
“That was how I got him to come in — by showing him how bright prospects can be for my cheongsam business,” smiled Kong.
Kong’s expansion plans are still ongoing as she is confident of a growing market. Her latest include the soon-to-be-opened KLIA2 in Sepang where she is seeking investors to pump in some RM300,000 as start-up capital.
Over at Sofia Iman, Faralina reveals commissions for the four members of their management team will easily touch RM30,000 each, in line with a compensation tier that includes giving individuals in management level up to 1.7% share in the company’s stakes.
Bonuses are calculated weekly based on overall sales by the team of 48 employees.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lucky lookers

Is the grass greener when you are good-looking? GRACE CHEN finds out.
Let’s not be na├»ve. Of course, the grass is greener when you are good-looking! As one photographer remarks, “If a woman is beautiful, she will have the world at her feet!”
This guy, who prefers to go unnamed, says his former bosses in the advertising industry would hire drop-dead, gorgeous girls as accounts executives and send them off to see clients in micro-mini skirts. The idea is to win (or seduce?) the client over.

Amy Liu
Err, wait a minute! Won’t these clients, the so-called “mature” decision-makers, see through the ploy? Won’t they scrutinise the proposals objectively before they give the OK? “Come on,” says the cameraman, “you have a guy who is married for 30 years to a wife who is probably a battleaxe. You send in this drop-dead gorgeous chick, and I tell you, he is going to be struck blind by her beauty.”
Which leaves one with some pretty disturbing thoughts: Are men dumb or what? Do beautiful women think nothing of using their good looks for material gains?
Here is what Amy Lui, 28, Miss Malaysia Petite 1997, has to say:
“Most guys would hope to go out with a girl who is beautiful and famous. It’s a way of showing off, of saying: ‘Look at my date compared to yours’. When you are beautiful, there are more chances for you to have the best picks. I know some girls who enter beauty contests just so they can meet rich people.”
Lui says there is no denying that beauty can help open doors. She still remembers the glory days when she was a freshly-crowned beauty queen.
“When I was sent to Texas to represent Malaysia in the Miss Petite International pageant, I was given the red carpet treatment and limo-driven to my hotel. When I came home, I was always a special guest at parties. I also got a job as personal assistant to the deputy director of Marlboro Malaysian Grand Prix. I dealt with the directors of international companies and all the top bikers, like Michael Doohan. It was a flattering time,” she smiles.
“The work (as a pageant winner) can be very easy. Just because you have the look, you can get RM500 to RM1,000 just for cutting a ribbon or showing up at a function. Once you are used to that life, it’s very hard to come out of it. But behind the scenes, you have to do a lot of entertaining.

Andrew Tan
And one may be limited by one’s beauty. “If a beautiful girl wants to have a normal life, she still has to work her way up the same way as everybody else. If she just depends on her looks, there are very few choices for her. Her looks can’t sustain her for long,’’ says Lui, who is still single.
“Beautiful people are not necessarily happier,” says Andrew Tan, the owner of Andrew’s Models.
“But they are usually able to project a happier image, so usually from a distance, they might seem so. And yes, they are definitely more confident as they would probably learn from a very young age that they can usually get what they want by turning on their ‘charm’.”
Tan says after 18 years in the modelling business, he has become desensitised to beautiful people.
“This is a good thing because it allows me to see the models for the people they truly are, and most of them are really nice – inside and out!”
Arguably, most of us aren’t as casual around beautiful people as Tan.
Lui, for one, says that winning her title has led to her being the entrepreneur she is today. By her own reckoning, being beautiful gave her a 40% leg-up. Today, she runs an events management company.
“When you are beautiful, people will pay attention to you. At the end of the day, I still feel that being beautiful is a good thing and you should not be afraid to flaunt it as long as you are using it for a good cause,” maintains Lui, who says she sometimes uses her looks to organise charity events.
Looks will not get you very far along the career path, says Lek Siok King, human resources manager at General Electric Company.
Lek, 37, insists that subjective criteria like beauty are not – and should not – be a factor in identifying and nurturing talent.
“Ultimately, I think competency, product knowledge, good negotiation tactics and communication skills are what count,” says Lek.
She, herself, prefers to hire people who are well-rounded and positive because “in the long run, workmates will prefer competency and responsibility from a colleague beyond all else”.
“Good looks may help a person feel more confident, but it won’t last beyond the first few days if they do not have qualities like integrity and teamwork (ethics),” maintains Lek.
Are there disadvantages to looking good?
“People think beautiful people can’t work,” says Lui, “because they have bad tempers and they want everything done for them.
“I feel that they want more of everything. Most will have a tougher life because they always want perfection. Even now I feel that I am not beautiful enough. I still want to look better.”
English/Spanish model Vanessa Woolley, 24, says, “Being beautiful is definitely a blessing. You do meet friends a lot easier, and people tend to accept you more easily as well. But beauty is just an outer point of view. What really matters is what’s within. You can be ugly but if you have that beauty within, it will shine brightly no matter what you look like.” W

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Flaunt it and shine at Miss Jumbo

The Miss Jumbo pageant is not only about celebrating beauty in different shapes and sizes, but also about being proud and confident.

IT took a fair bit of coaxing to get girls to join this beauty pageant, mainly because they didn’t believe they had the potential to be beauty queens. Most were afraid of being heckled on stage and being subjected to humiliation. It also didn’t help that the pageant winner will be crowned Jumbo Queen.

In this beauty contest, participants must weigh at least 80kg – and it’s open to all women regardless of their age and marital status.

Ong Kay Li belting out Born This Way. She was chosen first runner-up.

“If you look around at beauty pageants like Miss Malaysia, they only accept thin girls. What about the ones who are more generously endowed? Shouldn’t they be given a chance to do the catwalk and to show off that they are beautiful and talented as well?” said Sungei Wang Plaza’s senior manager of promotions and public relations Lim Kok Kheng.

He was inspired to organise the beauty pageant for plus-sized girls from a beauty contest he saw while holidaying in Thailand.

“That beauty contest was held to highlight the plight of elephants and the girls had to mirror the grace of the animals,” recounted Lim, who immediately saw the pageant’s crowd puller potential.

The first Jumbo Queen pageant, held in 2007, only attracted 20 applicants. When it was held again in 2010, it attracted more than 40 aspirants. This year, 30 joined the pageant.

Lim and his colleagues are committed to making the pageant a success, and they are always on the look out for potential contestants.

Purnisha Premchand, 31, who runs an online plus-sized clothes business called Curve Queenz, initially approached Sungei Wang with the intention of becoming a wardrobe sponsor for the beauty pageant. Instead, she was persuaded to participate in the pageant.

“I saw it as a good way to market Curve Queenz,” said Purnisha.

Crowned: Yoong Swee Moon danced her way into the judges’ hearts and won the Jumbo Queen title.

There were participants who recognised the opportunity for recognition that the pageant offered. The experience must not have been all bad as Nor Intan Julyana Yahaya, 33, who calls herself Pretty Diamond, has been trying her luck for the title since 2007.

Despite its title, pageant contestants are judged not on their weight, but on poise, grooming and personality which amount to 90% of the overall marks. The remaining 10% of the score is from crowd support, which tests the participants’ ability to market themselves. During the finals, the supporters cheered on the participants complete with a frenzy of colourful pom-poms, banners and whistles.

The reigning Miss Jumbo Yoong Swee Moon was happy she won because she wanted to debunk the notion that fat people are inactive. The basketball player and sports-mad make-up artist wowed the crowd with a cartwheel at the finals, and walked away with the crown.

Some people are fascinated by the pageant for its novelty appeal. But there are others who were supporting the participants because they saw a chance to change society’s treatment of those who do not conform to beauty stereotypes.

For the longest time, only thin girls could become air stewardesses or actresses. Even if plus-sized made it in the entertainment industry, it was always in the comedy genre.

But not all big girls are content to take things lying down; some joined the contest to prove that they are beautiful.

Mandy Ong, 33, who was first runner-up in last year’s pageant, recalls how she would always receive compliments about her Barbie doll looks, but they always came with the put down “but you are too big ...”

“Since so many people think fat women are ugly, I took matters into my own hands by joining this pageant. I knew that if I could stand up in front of the crowd and let my inner beauty shine through, I would have proven a point,” she says.

Another participant, Siti Zuraida Edham, 35, was in a defiant mood.

Huge support: The crowd in a frenzy over their favourite contestant.

“You can call me fat if you want. What do I care?” said the housekeeper who tips the scale at 121kg.

Another contestant Zamzarina Ahmad wanted the public to be more sensitive to the feelings of those who are overweight. Growing up, she was teased mercilessly for being fat.

The 30-year-old assistant director, who weighs 119 kg, says that because of the taunts, she became withdrawn. Maturity and family support helped her come to terms with her size.

“No matter what size you are, you must learn how to be comfortable with yourself. Be confident, be brave and most of all, take care of your appearance,” says Zamzarina.

The contestants also shared that they faced misconceptions that they are fat because they had let themselves go, or were too lazy to manage their weight. They are seen as weak-willed because they could not control their tendency to overeat.

Many do not realise that obesity can also be caused by genetics, hormonal imbalance and health problems.

Ong revealed that she started gaining weight seven years ago, on an average of eight kilos per year, due to job stress and eating irregularly.

Chin Swee Heang, the oldest contestant at 45, attributed her weight gain to a botched up operation. Even today, the mother of three has to undergo annual adjustment procedures to realign her intestines.

But the finalists this year are determined to not dwell on the downside of being called fat. “There is no point in getting angry,” said Goh Yea Min, 29, this year’s third runner-up.

“The crucial thing is to shed this perception that obesity is a barrier to having a good social life,” said Ong Kay Li, who weighs 95kg.

Yong who won the crown this year believes in the good life.

“As the Chinese say, the ability to enjoy one’s food is to experience what prosperity is about, so I am not going to feel guilty about being a foodie,” said Yoong, who weighs 94kg.

There were those who tried to lose weight. Lee Hui Leng, 33, last year’s second runner-up, reveals that she had lost 35kg once.

“I ate nothing but apples for three months but I regained the weight after two years,” recounted Lee who trimmed down from 120kg to 85kg.

The onus is on them to stop wallowing in self pity, added Lee.

She took charge of her social life by joining the Young Malaysians Movement, an organisation aimed at promoting national unity and integration, eight years ago.

“I learned how to be a confident public speaker and performer,” said Lee who loves dancing.

Another contestant Theresa Chin, 39, said that being overweight is no excuse for not enjoying life.

“I’ve climbed Mount Kinabalu twice. So my friends call me ‘Dunlop Pillow’ but I see this as a compliment because it means I am a cuddly and warm person,” she said.

Purnisha, who works as an HR executive, said she did not face discrimination at her workplace due to her weight because it’s her job performance that mattered most. “In the end, it’s about proving your worth through diligence and wisdom. For all that is said about fat people being this and that, I feel that most times, the discrimination is in one’s own mind,” said Purnitha.

> If you would like to participate in the next Jumbo Queen contest, please call 03-2142 6636 or e-mail: joanne@sungeiwang.com.

Making a living on Dead Man’s Street

Jalan Masjid in Ipoh has earned the eerie moniker of Dead Man’s Street because of its many coffin shops and funeral parlours. Star2 takes a tour and finds a lively lot.

THIS is my honey,” says Ng Kam Wah, the owner of Kam Chiew Coffin Shop, as a way of introducing his wife, Yip Woh Teng, 66.

“In fact, all the girls on this street are my honey,” adds the 70-year-old with a mischievous grin.

The coffin wholesaler is not a rampant playboy but he is one undertaker with a sense of humour. His most appreciative fan is none other than Yip whom Ng has been married to for 44 years. According to Ng, it was she who made the first move while he was still an innocent youth back in his father’s old coffin shop in Buntong, Perak.

Cham Swee Hung says the real objective of the job is to console the living.

For Ng and his honey, it’s a partnership set for eternity. He has already bought their coffins and they are safely tucked away in the store. Ng paid RM25,000 for each, revealing that the oak caskets of modern elegant design had been imported from the US.

“These models have a built-in elevating base which allows you to raise the body for viewing and then lower it back before the lid is sealed,” says Ng, proud of his acquisition.

When the time comes for either one of them to go, he hopes that the send-off will be similar to the one that he had overseen for the late Lay Heng, a timber tycoon, in 2006. During the funeral procession, 200 of the deceased’s friends and relatives took turns to carry the casket from Jalan Bendahara to Jalan Gopeng, a 5km journey.

Like most of the funeral directors on this street, Ng inherited the coffin business from his late father. Jalan Masjid or Dead Man’s Street has been Ng’s home and workplace for 42 years. He and his wife live above their shop lot on the same row as eight other coffin shops. In the evenings, they sit in wicker chairs at their shopfront and talk about the day, serenaded by the tinkling bells and chants of Taoist priests from nearby funeral parlours. They are semi-retired now and their son, Chuan Wai, who is in his 30s, oversees the company’s business, taking the company into the third generation.

The screws devised by Ng Kam Wah. Note the grooves which allow the quiet turning action from a turnkey to lock in coffin lids minus the stressful sounds of hammering.

How Jalan Masjid evolved into a one-stop area for bereavement needs may have its answer in Chop Wing Hup, the first casket shop to open here. Lau Say Kee, 66, says that his grandfather, Chee Chong started the casket company in 1923 in what was then known as Hume Street.

“My grandfather, an immigrant from Kwantung, China, was the owner of a betting parlour. He became a coffin maker by circumstance when he had to make one for a close friend who had passed away. Word got around and he soon found a new business for himself,” says Lau.

Another company is believed to have opened at the same time as Chop Wing Hup but Lau recalls that it winded up soon after. This places Kwang Fook, a 60-year-old casket company, as the second oldest establishment on the street. It is run by Kooi Swee Keng, 64, who took over her father-in-law’s business when her husband Cheng Kok Kuan passed away suddenly from a heart attack at age 53.

True to the saying that birds of a feather flock together, others followed suit, giving the street its unique identity.

Riding on a celebrity’s popularity: A hearse rental service making use of Michael Jackson’s photo to illustrate how a deceased’s image will be displayed during an actual funeral procession. Where star power is needed, celebs like Leslie Cheung, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley are popular choices.

In touch with the times

At the street entrance, opposite the old Ipoh bus stop are the Phuan Yee and Foo Kwong Association buildings, the street’s busiest funeral parlours. How these buildings landed their roles dates back to the time when the upper floors were used as convalescent homes for the destitute 30 years ago. Cham Swee Hung, 36, of New Cham Fei Casket says that it made perfect sense to hold the wake downstairs when one of the residents passed on. The convalescent home has since closed but people still look at these associations as the ideal spot for wakes because all their funerary needs are nearby.

In terms of funerary services, this street would see many firsts as the industry evolved to accommodate the changing face of time. An old photograph shows that sometime in the 1920s and 1930s, the street would see its first motorised hearse in the form of a Bedford truck, rented by the Machinists Association (no longer in existence), for one of its members who had passed away in an accident.

In 1973, Kam Chiew made headlines in The Star. It read: “Here Comes The Coffin – In A Crane”. According to Ng, he had then constructed a large teakwood coffin measuring 1.829m by 1.524m to hold the remains of Yeong Chin Poh, a wealthy Chinese medicinal shop owner. As the weight would make the slippery slopes of the burial site too dangerous for it to be manoeuvred by hand, the Yeong family agreed to hire a crane to avoid a mishap.

A typical walkway in Dead Man’s Street.

One will also find traditional vestiges like the handmade Mui Fa Mak (shaped like a rose in Cantonese) coffins. One of these rests in Kam Chiew’s store, waiting for the owner to claim it as her eternal resting place. It is a symbol of a faithful husband’s vow to provide for his wife from beginning till end for its making was commissioned before the husband’s demise in 2006.

These coffins come with a special locking system which sees a series of nails being turned into ready-bored holes to secure the lid. No hammering is involved as the nails are fastened with a turnkey. They were invented by the old masters to shield grieving families and expectant mothers from loud sounds.

Despite the taboos that come with death and of public perception that this street was where things went bump in the night, business flourished. Most of the funeral directors here drive luxury cars and as for their fleet of hearses, the Toyota Alphards are the latest rides, going for a rental rate of RM800 a day. In terms of property value, rent for a ground floor shop lot was RM600 in the 1960s and 1970s. It has since ballooned in the past few years. The one and a half shop lot occupied by Kwang Fook cost Kooi RM400,000 to acquire.

Nothing to be afraid of

There is the perception that only casket shops can do well here. Ten years ago, when Kooi tried to diversify her business by opening a bookshop and an accessories boutique, she had to close down within a year due to poor sales.

Phuan Jun Hei, a 30-year-old sales executive from Fook Loke Sau which was part of the Eight Eleven group, does not fully agree. He points out that while the left row of the street has been conquered by casket and funeral services, there is one lone cushion maker on the right row that has been there for at least 20 years. In the end, it is all a matter of having a clear view of one’s target market.

“The dominant business here is in bereavement so a bookshop offering Buddhist prayer books and self-help titles on how to cope with loss may do well. For those who are inclined towards fashion, there is a market for shrouds and mourning clothes. So, it is important to have the right concept,” says Phuan.

The plus point of being unique has inadvertently thrust the street’s tenants into the spotlight. Cham proudly reveals that he had just been interviewed by Astro recently.

Ng also remembers how he had gone to a police station in Sungai Siput for the first time only to be told by an officer that he was famous. It turned out that an article on him had appeared in a popular Malay magazine subscribed by the policeman.

Chong Peng Wah, 50, who has the task of bathing the deceased at Kwang Fook personifies the camera-loving character. On hearing that his picture would be taken, he quickly donned his coat.

But not all crave the spotlight. A mourner who had just lost his father asked us to leave the funeral parlour while we were trying to snap some pictures of a paper house.

“Show us some respect. We are already overwhelmed as it is. We don’t need more hassle from you,” he says, the distress clearly showing in his voice.

Undampened by the mourner’s attitude, Chong quickly found another willing candidate in Kong Wah, 64, who happens to be from the Kam Chiew group.

Kong has been in the business for 30 years and we, it seems, are in luck. They are in the midst of preparing a wake for a former employee, Wong Yee Lam, who had passed away at 7am in an old folk’s home earlier. He was 73.

“Of course you can take pictures. The deceased used to supervise our workers here. I used to drink with him. We are friends and colleagues. He won’t mind,” assures Kong.

Meanwhile, one hears the constant hacks of dry coughs. Many undertakers in Jalan Masjid are heavy smokers. Being on call 24 hours, nicotine, they say, helps keep them awake.

“Organising a funeral is not easy,” says Kong.

“Bungle up at the onset and everything goes awry. Even as I am talking to you now, my mind is already thinking of other things,” he says.

Kong’s eyebrows shoot up immediately on the insinuation that undertakers can be made party to murder cover-ups.

“For us, the most crucial document is the death certificate. Without it, nothing moves. The only way to get a death certificate is from the police,” he asserts.

And don’t expect to hear any ghost stories from this lot.

Lau is the first to shake his head when asked about netherworld encounters.

“I blame the media for planting such thoughts in the public’s mind,” says Lau.

The drama, says Ng, is always from the living.

Of the most unforgettable was a doctor who performed an autopsy on his own mother. Ng, who was there to oversee the funeral arrangements, recalls how the man’s sister had berated him in front of the whole family when she found out what he had done.

“Not that my client was heartless but all he wanted to know was the cause of his mother’s death,” he shrugs.

On the other hand, Ng feels that the doctor should have been more accepting of his mother’s demise as she was already in her 80s.

The niggling question of whether Jalan Masjid will continue to retain its infamous reputation in the future remains to be seen. There is talk that authorities are planning to discontinue licences and move everyone to an industrial area in Fahlim. But feedback reveals that it is an exercise that will see plenty of discontent.

“The first time they actually talked about relocation was 20 years ago. After that, nothing was heard. I guess a suitable place has not been found yet. Anyway, I don’t see the point. It’s not that we are troubling anyone,” opines Lau.