Chinatown stallholder helps elderly man get home daily for six months

October 03, 2014
The mute elderly man waiting on a chair at Mr Yep’s stall. (Top Right) Mr Yep pushing the speech impaired man and his luggage to the bus stop about 200m away and helping him up the bus.
The mute elderly man waiting on a chair at Mr Yep’s stall. (Top Right) Mr Yep pushing the speech impaired man and his luggage to the bus stop about 200m away and helping him up the bus.

Last year, he started noticing an elderly man with a hunched back pulling a luggage near his souvenir stall in Sago Street, in Chinatown.

Then on one night early this year, he saw the man sitting by the roadside, clutching his chest and having trouble breathing.

The souvenir seller, who wanted to be known only as Mr Yep, went to check if the man needed help.

“I was worried that something might happen to him, so I went over to speak to him,” the 63-year-old told The New Paper on Wednesday.

When the man kept gesturing to the main road without saying a word, Mr Yep realised that he was speech impaired.

It took a while before he found out the man wanted to go to the bus stop about 200m away.

Mr Yep then took out his trolley and placed the man’s bag, which he estimated to weigh 10kg, on it. He helped the man sit on the luggage and pushed them to the bus stop.

This act of kindness would turn into a routine from that night.

The next evening, he saw the elderly man waiting outside his stall and understood that he was asking for help again.

Mr Yep duly obliged, and has been doing this almost daily for the past six or seven months – even waiting for the bus to arrive and making sure the man gets a seat before leaving.

Then early last month, it occurred to Mr Yep that it was not feasible for him to keep helping the man.

“What if I fall sick one day and I am not around to help him? It is dangerous to let him walk around in his state,” he said.

He decided to contact Shin Min Daily News to see if the Chinese evening newspaper could trace the man’s family.

A reporter then met the man, who had a piece of paper with his nephew’s phone number.

When Shin Min Daily News contacted the nephew, he said his uncle, 67, was a stubborn man who would insist on leaving the home every day.


He added that the bag was full of plastic bags and miscellaneous items.

Mr Yep said he has not seen the man since Monday, and hopes he is safe at home.

Another souvenir stallholder at Sago Street, Miss Crystal Ang, said the man was protective of his luggage.

She recalled an occasion when he asked for plastic bags, but when she tried to help him by tying them to the bag handle, he pushed her hand away and shook his head.

“He seems very independent as he travels everywhere alone,” she said, adding that this was why she did not offer to help him.

Madam Foo, 56, who owns the souvenir stall next to Mr Yep’s, said she tried to carry the man’s bag once and realised she would not be able to help him even if she wanted to.

“His luggage is so heavy. It is almost impossible for me to carry,” she said.

Madam Foo commended Mr Yep for his kind act, saying: “It is hard to find people who are so selfless. He is really kind.”

Singapore Kindness Movement general secretary William Wan said it was heartening to hear such a story.

He said: “I believe that humans are intrinsically kind. We just express it in different ways.

“For Mr Yep, he might have connected with the mute man as they are about the same age. Sometimes, all we need is a human connection to unlock our inner kindness.”

Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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