Dad declines donations as monetary help floods in

Enterprising: Cheong tending to some customers at the night market in Taman Johor Jaya, Johor Baru.

JOHOR BARU: Financial and emotional support has been pouring in for a 66-year-old father who travels across the straits every week just so he can spend 15 minutes with his jailed son.

After his story was published in The Star on Feb 27, vegetable seller Cheong Kah Pin said he has been receiving calls from kind-hearted strangers throughout the country who are offering not just words of encouragement but also money for him to buy a new motorcycle.

“I am touched and beyond grateful for the outpouring of support from these Good Samaritans.

“I do not know how they got my phone number, and I thank them for the warm gesture, but I have rejected all the monetary support because I am content with what I have,” he said.

Cheong, who grows vegetables on his friend’s land, earns a living by selling his harvests – such as long beans, cucumbers, yams, spinach, bitter gourds and brinjals – at the morning and night markets of Taman Desa Jaya and Taman Johor Jaya here respectively.

He can only grow small batches as he does not have enough manpower.

“I am only assisted by an elderly couple, and my produce has dropped tremendously since last week due to the unpredictable weather.

“Some of my crops were destroyed by heavy rains, and there were days when I had nothing to sell. But it is fine; I can just eat less and be thrifty,” he added.

Even though Cheong lives a simple life, he is very involved with a church group that does charity work, such as helping farmers here and in Singapore.

“When my son got into trouble, this group offered spiritual and emotional guidance to me, which helped me stay strong and get through the hardship.

“I enjoy helping others, as it also gives me a sense of calm and a positive outlook that life will get better one day,” he added.

Cheong’s story of riding his old motorbike for an hour so he could spend a brief moment with his son, Cheong Chun Yin, who is serving a life sentence for drug trafficking in a Singapore prison, captivated readers.

The father starts his journey around 2am every Wednesday after wrapping up at the night market.

Upon his arrival in the republic, he will rest at a petrol station while awaiting the opening of a coffee shop for breakfast before proceeding to the prison.

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