Singapore—It’s a story that’s turning out to have a happy ending after all. One couple who own a food stall at Yishun Park Hawker Centre lost over S$1,000 when their savings were stolen by marauding youth last year. But now, they’re finding their wares are often sold out as people from Tiong Bahru, Tampines, and Geylang are coming over to buy their curry puffs just to help them out after last year’s misfortune.
Today carried a story on June 14, Friday, recounting how six young people had crept into the stall of Madam Kalsom Kamis and her husband, Zaidi Zainal, past midnight on July 17, 2018, and stole their hard-earned money from their sales, a total of S$1,064.
One of the youth, Ng Qiang Qing, who had only been 16 when he carried out the theft with his friends, was given a sentence of two years’ probation for his misdeeds. He pleaded guilty to one count each of theft in dwelling, rioting and abetting the impersonation of a public servant.
The teen has run afoul of the law at least twice, having impersonated a police officer from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in order to take money from two foreign workers in the early morning hours of May 1, and having gotten into a fight just a few hours later, on April 30.
“I cried a lot.”
Mdm Kalsom told Today that the theft of their earnings had been a severe blow indeed for her family, who rely on the curry puff stall to support their three children, ages 13, 10 and 4.
She and her husband had been saving money to buy cooking equipment to develop their food stall further, and to make things easier for her, as she wakes up at 5 am daily to prepare the curry puffs and open the food stall. Her husband does the childcare, and when their oldest child comes home from school, Mr Zaini joins her at the shop.
The stolen money would have gone a long way to ease their burdens, Mdm Kalsom said. “I cried a lot. I flatten the dough and make them into balls with my hands every single day. It would take around 600 curry puffs to get the money back.”
Mr Zaini said, “We had only started business for two weeks when this incident happened. She needs to prepare the curry puffs three hours (before we open for business),” since Mdm Kalsom was doing everything by hand.
Moreover, another incident of thievery occurred, when someone stole S$50 from them.
But the couple persevered, raising the price of their curry puffs from S$1.20 to S$1.50 to recoup their losses. After four months they were able to raise the money that had been stolen from them and could afford the equipment needed to ease Mdm Kalsom’s work. They also intend to put up security cameras and bars around the food stall.
Nevertheless, they were immensely thankful for the support given to them after the story came out on Today.
Customers not only bought their curry puffs, but also actually gave them money for their children. Mdm Kalsom, moved by the woman’s generosity, gave the donor a hug.
She told the news portal, “Some asked questions like ‘what happened’, ‘how can be like that’, ‘how is business’. Some tell us to take care,” said Mdm Kalsom.
Business has gotten so good that now the couple sell over 200 curry puffs a day where sales only used to reach 100 to 150 in the past.
Moreover, there have actually been times when the curry puffs sold out, and customers have had to wait for 15 minutes until the next batch was cooked.
Mr Zaidi said, “I never expected it. Some customers have to wait, I paiseh lah. I have to say sorry.”
As for Mr Ng, he has been ordered to serve 180 hours of community service and to live for a year at a juvenile probation institution. His father has had to pay a bond of S$5,000 to ensure that his son will stay in line.
Mdm Kalson has expressed the hope that the teen has learned from the consequences of his wrongdoings and will choose to make the changes he needs to straighten out his life. /TISG
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