KUALA LUMPUR: As the founder of two old folks homes, Cheong Loy is responsible for the welfare of some 84 senior citizens.
Asked what it takes to run the homes, the humble businessman replied: “Not very much.”
Cheong, 64, was running a funeral parlour business at the Kwong Tong Cemetery in 1999 when he allowed former hospital patients to live on the floor above his parlour.
“They needed to visit Hospital Kuala Lumpur frequently. Upstairs was vacant so I let them stay, then it spread by word of mouth,” Cheong recounted.
When he accepted senior citizens abandoned by their families in public hospitals, the space evolved into the old folks home that it is today.
“It all had to do with the first lady resident, Siew Mun, who started cooking for the others. There were only about seven to eight people living upstairs then.
“If she had not volunteered to cook, we wouldn’t be able to accommodate more people,” Cheong said.
Now the Tong Sim Senior Citizens Care Centre houses 64 residents at its original site at Jalan Dewan Bahasa and another 20 at Kampung Baru Salak Selatan.
Cheong bought two pieces of land at Kampung Baru Salak Selatan and planned to move all the residents to the Chinese new village eventually.
He spent more than RM1mil to buy the land and build the facilities.
Cheong also hired two Indonesian maids to take care of the residents at Jalan Dewan Bahasa and a driver to send them to hospitals for check-ups.
Most of the residents at Kampung Baru Salak Selatan are capable of taking care of themselves whereas those in Jalan Dewan Bahasa require more care due to their medical conditions.
Some are mentally ill while many others are bedridden.
“The care we provide is not perfect but it’s the best we can do,” Cheong said.
Yet, he has been scolded by some who denied abandoning their parents at the home and instead accused him of meddling in their family affairs.
“I believe strongly in filial piety and gratitude. I don’t know what the parents have done to make the children behave like that.
“But I hope my children would carry on taking care of them,” said Cheong.