Couple yanked reporter by collar to safety

Kian Heng

The proprietors of this coffee shop gave shelter to this reporter when things got dicey.

While doing an interview on Chander Road, I unexpectedly found myself facing an approaching group of shouting men.

If not for Mr Koh, the owner of Kian Heng, I could have been injured in the rampage.

I had gone by the shop, thinking it was closed, when Mr Koh grabbed me by the collar and pulled me into his shop, locking the gate behind him.

One of their three shutters had already been rolled down, the tables and chairs usually set outside the shop had been moved indoors.

His wife, who declined to be named, admitted she was nervous.

She says: "My hands were still trembling after we locked the gate behind you. Violence always scares me. I can still hear the sound of barking police dogs."

Mr Koh said he spotted me outside his shop some time before 11pm.

"I saw you holding your camera and looking worried when you suddenly saw the men running towards you," Mr Koh, 65, tells me in Malay.

The couple have run their business in Little India for 50 years, and say fights are usual. When they happen, the "best thing to do is stay inside".

They were alerted to last Sunday's riot when they heard sounds of an explosion and when people ran by their shop screaming.

Mr Koh took a peek, realised it wasn't the usual fight going on, and quickly padlocked his gate.

At the time of the riot, there were two people drinking inside, not bothered by the riot outside.

After pulling me in, the couple offered me a drink and asked if I was okay. They were worried and asked: "What were you doing outside? It's so dangerous."

I declined their offer and explained I was there on assignment.

Ten minutes later, I decided it was time to leave, I thanked them for their help before heading back into streets.

Mrs Koh, looked extremely worried, asked: "You sure you want to go?"

I had a job to do, so I replied: "No choice, I have to go."

Last Wednesday, I visited Mr Koh to thank him again. His response? "It was nothing. If we can help, we must help."

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