Hawker Ang Kak Seong says he has to shut down his 66-year-old business due to harassment by debt collectors.
A famous asam laksa shop in Air Itam, Penang, touted by international news outlet CNN as one of the world’s best food and a living heritage, sold its last bowl as it closes its doors today (May 18).
It may not be a permanent end but hawker Ang Kak Seong, 72, claimed he had to close the Air Itam Market Laksa after being hit with a double whammy in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic and harassment from debt collectors.
The movement control order (MCO) has made life harder, not only for Ang but for most hawkers in Penang.
In desperation, Ang sought the help of Air Itam Assemblyperson Joseph Ng over the constant harassment he endured from debt collectors looking for his eldest son Ang Kat Foo, 47, and to collect money the latter owed from the laksa shop.
“His son has repeatedly defaulted on multiple sets of debts, so the creditors went to the laksa stall to collect money several times.
“Ang was unable to repay the debt for his son so the whole family, including his wife and daughters, have decided to break family ties with his eldest son,” Ng said in a statement.
Kat Foo has since gone missing and the family has not been in touch with him for months.
“Ang hopes that the creditors will not come to harass him again,” Ng added.
Loyal customers of the laksa shop, which opened in 1955, lined the street to savour their favourite bowl of laksa for the last time, after hearing news that it was going to close.
Despite his plight, Ang was grateful for his customers who frequented his stall and thanked his old neighbours who supported him to enable his laksa business to survive for more than half a century.
“Ang also thanked the media for their coverage of his business and exposure over the years, which allowed his small booth to be internationally featured.
“Temporarily quitting is a compelling and painful decision, but Ang hopes that everyone can understand his pain and suffering,” Ng said.
He expressed hope that Ang would take a short break, reconsider his decision and restart his laksa business in the near future.
“The impact of the MCO has made the life of traders difficult, and Ang is no different,” he added.