by GAN PEI LING and LOH FOON FONG © The Star 22 May 2017
KUALA LUMPUR: “Why don’t you just die? You are such a burden!”
This is among the hurtful things children say to their parents before abandoning them. And Cheong Loy has heard them all.
Cheong is the founder of Tong Sim Senior Citizens Care Centre in Jalan Dewan Bahasa. He says many parents are emotionally affected by the insults thrown at them by the children.
“Some will feel sad for a few days but will accept reality after about a week as other residents will also console them,” he said.
However, not all can cope with abandonment.
“We once had a lady who boasted about her son who worked as a chef. One day, he came and scolded her in front of everyone.
“I think that broke her heart. She died about two months after that,” he recounted.
Cheong began allowing former hospital patients to live on the floor above his funeral parlour at Kwong Tong Cemetery in 1999.
“Many of these people were not abandoned by their families. They just needed a place close to the hospital. Their children would visit often.
“Then, word spread about this place and those who had nowhere to go started living here. One lady started to cook for them. She has died, too,” Cheong recalled.
The number of residents has grown from seven to about 30 now.
Cheong hires two Indonesian maids to take care of the residents and a driver to take them to hospitals for check-ups.
“For those with family members, we will always try our best to send them back and advise their families to take care of them, but most just send them back to us,” he added.
In 2004, Cheong bought a piece of land at Kampung Baru Salak Selatan to provide a permanent and secure living space for the residents.
“I plan to move the residents to the Chinese new village eventually,” said Cheong, who does not accept cash donations from the public.
“I’ll only accept what we need. We donate the rest to single mothers or sell them if people donate without checking with us first,” said Cheong.
Restaurant owner Muji Sulaiman, 57, (pic) is another person who runs a home, entirely at her own expense.
For more than a decade, she has been taking in former hospital patients neglected or abandoned by their families, and looking after them until their deaths.
“If you don’t have the capability, don’t open a charity home,” said the former nurse sternly.
Muji set up Al-Ikhlas Old Folks Care and Treatment Home at a former surau in Kampung Pulau Meranti, Puchong, in 2003.
It is now home to 50 senior citizens, and Muji bears the monthly operational cost of RM50,000, including the salaries of 16 full-time caretakers.
“Some of their families found it too troublesome to look after them due to their medical condition. I had a lady who was left at the home’s doorstep.
“There are some who come in luxury cars to attend their parents’ funeral after their deaths. So, it’s not that they cannot afford it. They just don’t want to look after their own parents,” said the single mother of three.