All alone in a shack

IPOH: In this day and age, it is simply unfathomable that there could be someone who lives in a shabby shack without basic amenities such as electricity and piped water, and devoid of all creature comforts that many others cannot do without.

Septuagenarian Yip Foong Yin has been living all alone in a dilapidated hut  on the fringes of Taman Pakatan Jaya, a housing estate made up of middle-income group, for more than 10 years.

Nobody paid any attention to him or even wonder whether he was able to get by until Ipoh City Council councillor Professor Dr Richard Ng stumbled upon him by chance.

"I came to this housing area last week to distribute aid and to check on some folks here who have fallen on hard times.

"On my way out, I passed by an empty plot of land at the edge of the housing area and noticed an unmanned, makeshift stall with an assortment of fruits and an old, worn-out tricycle.

"I got out of my car to take a closer look and that was when I came across Yip and the shack he has been living in for more than 10 years.

"I was shocked to find an elderly man living on his own with no basic amenities and other essentials.

"He does not have a cooking stove, fridge, television, radio or a phone, and these are things that many of us cannot do without.

"I immediately put up a post about his plight on Facebook and reached out to others as well.

"Ipoh City Mayor Datuk Rumaizi Baharin was one of the first to respond.

"On the very next day, he came down and handed Yip some aid and groceries.

"Popular local supermarket chain Econsave also came forward with food and groceries," said Ng, who is also the president of Ipoh City Watch, a non-governmental organisation, and the Lions Club Perak Silver State.

Yip, 70, who hails from Bercham, grows fruits and vegetables on the plot of land that he lives in, which belonged to his late father.

He sells the produce, such as bananas, mangoes, papayas and coconuts, outside his shack and at a morning market in a nearby housing area using his old tricycle.

But after his tricycle gave way, he had been unable to make his way to the market.

Ng said Rumaizi had pledged to give Yip a new tricycle as soon as possible.

Yip, who is not able to hear well, said while those living in the immediate area did not pay any attention or engage with him, there had been some Samaritans from the surrounding housing areas who came by once in a while and gave him some pocket money, which he is thankful for.

"I used to live in a house nearby which belonged to my late father, but it burned down years ago.  I did not have anywhere else to live, so I moved to this plot of land.

"I grow vegetables and fruits, which I eat and I sell the rest as a means of earning a living.

"For drinking water, to cook and to bathe, I have large tubs that I use to gather rainwater.

"For cooking, I have a few pots and pans, and I gather twigs, dried leaves and tree branches to make a fire to cook my food.

"Those who do come by are shocked and surprised by how I live, but this is how I have been surviving all this while. I carry on without bothering or troubling anyone."

Ng revealed that Yip is content with living in the current condition despite bordering on poverty in one of the most developed cities in the country.

"We are not looking for publicity.

"We are just trying to help those who are in need and underprivileged like Yip so that they are able to lead a better life.

"My principle is 'no one should be left behind'. This is a United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal earmarked and projected by the year 2030, and we are working hard to realise and achieve such a goal by helping people like Yip."

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