Ex-refugee’s knife-making skill a cut above the competition

Razor sharp: Yusof showing some of the knives that he made at his house in Kampung Sena Rendang, Terengganu. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: About 40 years ago, a Champa Malay, Yusof Abdullah, escaped from Cambodia to Malaysia due to the communist persecution of Muslims there.

With the knowledge of knife-forging passed down from his late father, the man now fondly known as Pak Usop, started a business that saw him earn thousands of ringgit.

“I learned the skill of knife-forging from my late father a long time ago and started the business in Malaysia over 30 years ago,” said the 74-year old when contacted.

He said that whenever Hari Raya Aidiladha draws near, he receives an influx of orders for his handmade knives made at his workshop at Kampung Sena Rendang, Terengganu.

“The knives are priced from RM120 to RM300, depending on the size and type of steel used.

“Stainless steel would be costlier,” Yusof, who is also a father of 11, said.

Like Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Muslims in Malaysia will observe Hari Raya Aidiladha this coming Sunday. The community will begin the day by performing prayers in large congregations at mosques.

This is followed by the ceremony of sacrificing animals (korban), where a portion of the meat will be donated to the poor and needy.

Yusof added that he would also occasionally receive orders from businessmen in the state for his blacksmithing services on a daily basis, crafting implements like farming machetes, butcher knives, and axes.

He said that when he first arrived in the country, he was placed at a refugee camp in Cherating, Pahang. He then travelled to other parts of the country like Negri Sembilan and Perak.

After receiving his citizenship years later, Yusof, who fled Cambodia with his wife and three children, decided to settle in Terengganu.

Yusof is among 9,000 Champa Malays who fled the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia in the late 1970s. Most have now assimilated into the local Malay community in the country.

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