Evicted cobbler, 71, gets help from MP

PHOTO: Facebook/TinPeiLing

A cobbler, who made headlines in November after he was evicted from Katong Plaza where he had worked for more than 11 years, has now set up shop at a location less than a kilometre away.

Ng Ah Bah, 71, resumed business at Block 86, Marine Parade Central on Sunday, Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday.

He had received an eviction notice in October after a drunk man was found sleeping behind Mr Ng's pushcart and turned violent when asked to leave.

The cobbler, whose wife of 45 years is in a nursing home after a stroke in April 2014, had worked at Katong Plaza's sheltered walkway for more than 11 years.

The news drew the attention of Tin Pei Ling, Member of Parliament for MacPherson, who facilitated the setting up of Mr Ng's new stall at a bustling location with a FairPrice supermarket, post office and banks nearby.

The cobbler was in good spirits when Wanbao visited him, saying he had two customers on his first day and five or six on the second.

"With time, I think business should pick up," he added.

Mr Ng added that Marine Parade Town Council had given him three locations to choose for his new stall, with the other two in the Central Business District and outside Tampines MRT station.

However, he said he had been repairing shoes in Katong for 58 years and his regulars were all there, so he could not bear to leave.

Mr Ng thanked Ms Tin, whom he had met two or three times in the past two months and discussed the issue of his stall with.

On Monday, she posted a photo of herself with Mr Ng on Facebook, calling for users to spread the word so that "his old time customers can now find him" at his new stall.

He is "still determined to remain independent and he wants to continue his passion and trade - cobbling. So, I'm really glad his problem is now addressed".

Mr Ng's relatives helped him to come up with the $2,200 for a new pushcart, as he had returned his old one to the management at Katong Plaza.

One of Mr Ng's regular customers, Qiu Zhongxiang, 39, told Wanbao: "He's worked around here for very long. I've watched him repairing shoes since I was little."

Another customer, who gave his name as Mr Zheng, 64, said: "His workmanship is quite good, my brother will often get his shoes repaired by him."

Responding to his customers' praise, Mr Ng said with pride: "Shoes cannot be fixed in just any way, you must do them well if you want customers to return. If not, how can you get to stay in this line for 58 years?"

He added: "As long as I earn enough, it's all right. I just need enough for food... to keep going like this and retire only when my eyes and hands give out on me."


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