Millionaire coffee shop facing eviction after serving decades of memories

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  • Thursday, 26 May 2016

Filepic of Kong Thai Lai coffee shop in George Town, Penang.

ALL good things must come to an end. Nothing is permanent.

Even our lives, our most prized possessions, have to make way when the time is up.

“When fate summons, monarchs must obey.” Social status is no exception. A king or a commoner must follow suit.

And when we go to the world hereafter, we bring nothing. We just become a speck of dust.

All we carry are our merits. These are our only assets. Nothing more. Nothing less.

So surround yourself with happy thoughts while you are still alive.

Many people are unhappy because they have not found the key to happiness. Avoid greed.

It saddens my heart to know that the almost century-old coffee shop at Hutton Lane in Penang will be closed. It was known to be the “millionaire coffee shop”.

The Kong Thai Lai coffee shop has to move out following an eviction notice by the landowner.

Malaysia’s ‘Mr Honda’, the late Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew, used to patronise this coffee shop to have his coffee and toast with butter and sugar.

Asia’s ‘sugar king’ Tan Sri Robert Kuok was also a patron at the coffee shop.

My personal friend, Khaw Cheng Poon, used to spend his time at this coffee shop. He is the son of a millionaire.

This was the coffee shop I remember most as it was used as a ‘broadcasting station’ before social media was introduced.

It became a rendezvous for ‘coffee shop politicians’ to discuss the latest topic of the day.

Those who wanted to get breaking news also gathered at this coffee shop.

I built my contacts at this place. Topics from some of the sources had news value. I was a journalist with the defunct National Echo then.

As the coffee shop was near my office at Dato Koyah Road, it was a few minutes’ walk to reach the place.

The half-baked ‘politicians’ helped me in one way or another to produce exclusive stories.

Although I am now in my twilight years at 76, I am still eager to be in the thick of the action.

Alas, I am unable to turn back the clock. I still have to work for survival.

Journalism is in my blood. I like to be at the scene where the action is.

Being an intrepid adventurer, this has opened many windows of opportunities for such assignments.

The body and mind are still willing. In fact, they are still capable of fulfilling the endurance criteria.

Alternatively, the only satisfaction I get now is to reflect and write these memoirs.

Somehow, this too must end once the life battery can no longer be charged.

We must accept the fact that the clock must stop one day. There is no life-support of any sort.

Happy are those who can appreciate that love is indeed a many splendoured thing.

There is no emptiness in life if you have an object of love. So love yourself. There is no room for regrets.

Neither photographs nor wax statues are everlasting. They are subject to being destroyed.

Only your soul is everlasting. Pamper it with care. Walk on the right track. Don’t let it slip into the abyss.

I know too well that the time frame is fast ticking. I have been blessed with good health, though not material wealth.

To me, my health is my wealth. That is the greatest blessing endowed upon me.

As my former journalist colleague Soo Ewe Jin said: “I have been blessed. I just want to pass my blessings to others”.

A cancer survivor who has undergone four journeys, Soo the present executive editor in The Star, is an exemplary person.

I try to emulate his character – a real role model. It is a joy to give and make others happy.

As such, my home library shelf is now empty. I gave the thousands of books I love to my friends.

I also gave away first-day covers, keychains, caps, DVDs, fancy pens and other items I love which have been in my possession for a long time.

I hope there will be continuity in love. Let us pass it on to the next generation.

Life is such a brief sojourn. Let us then enjoy every moment of it in a clean way.

Yes, nothing is everlasting. Even tears cannot always drain the deepest sorrow.

Likewise, we must take our joy with us or we will never find it.

>A. R. Amiruddin was a former journalist with The Star for 19 years and the defunct National Echo for 10 years. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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