Power supply boards, printed circuit boards, and transistors are puzzles levels to be solved, screwdrivers and soldering irons are handy weapons, while copper wires and various spare parts are regular inventory items. To father-son duo Chiew Soon Foo and Chiew Chin Hong, repairing domestic appliances is an exciting game, to clear levels with all stars is an achievement they intently seek. From large appliances like televisions, speakers, to small appliances like rice cookers, clothes irons would all be taken apart for a thorough inspection, faulty parts are then repaired or replaced, and the appliances would be in good working order after reassembling.
Heading southwards from Klang on the Federal Route 5, passing by Jenjarom, a giant bridge over the Langat river connects to the streets of Banting. Banting is the principal town of Kuala Langat district, having developed from farmland to an agricultural and industrial hub within the past century, its main street is bustling with traffic. Pertama Electronic Services occupies a double-storey shophouse facing the main street, its predecessor being a grocery store founded by Chiew Soon Foo’s grandfather upon settling in Malaysia, hence the wooden signage bearing “Tuck Heap Huat” above the entrance.
Since his childhood, Chiew Soon Foo stayed on the second floor of the shophouse. After his grandfather passed away, his father took over the reins of the grocery store. Having completed Form Three, Chiew Soon Foo dropped out of school, working at a furniture manufacturer during the day while studying electrical and electronic repairs at night. Upon completion of his diploma, he worked at Klang for six years before returning to Banting to start his own business. In the beginning, Chiew Soon Foo took up a corner of his father’s shopfront, and went performing on-site services around neighbouring villages. He gradually made a name for himself, customers would send their appliances to the shop for repairs, as well as refer him to their friends and family. Since the grocery business was going downhill, after clearing out the inventory, the shop officially became a repair store.
Shelves and tables inside the shop were handmade by Chiew Soon Foo with his furniture manufacturing skills, whereby at home he is in charge of all maintenance and repairs. All along, Chiew Soon Foo works together with his wife and son, without hiring helpers. His wife, See Pey, who has no prior knowledge, went on to become a steady assistant, from coiling copper wires, soldering, to reassembling appliances. His son, Chiew Chin Hong, who sparked a keen interest since a tender age, joined him in the repair shop after graduating from school. Together they continually explore, practice, and master progressive skills in repairing electrical appliances.
Electrical technicians make a living using their skills, charging fees which include parts, materials, and labour, yet may not be profitable. The Chiew father and son will negotiate prices with customers, the repair job will only be carried out upon achieving a mutual agreement. From finding the faulty parts to completing repairs or replacements, the entire process usually take two to three days. If the parts are hard to come by, which requires sourcing online, it will take a longer time, even without taking into account that the parts ordered online might not be suitable. Certain antiquated parts have been discontinued and therefore could not be replaced, in such cases Chiew Soon Foo is powerless despite his talent in appliances repairs.
Back when supplies were scarce, domestic appliances were rare and precious, repairing was more cost-efficient than buying a new one. Nowadays domestic appliances have became daily necessities at affordable prices with a warranty period. In case of faulty or damage, most would opt for making a new purchase rather than sending for repairs. Chiew Soon Foo laments that discarding broken appliances is not environmentally friendly, to repair is a sustainable practice which may extend their lifespan as well as reduce e-waste. If customers no longer want their appliances back, Chiew Soon Foo will retain usable parts and send the remaining to registered collection facilities.
Cathode-ray tube televisions and radios, cassette players, videocassette recorders were rendered obsolete by advancing technology, and cannot be repurchased once discarded. Some may retain them for the sake of nostalgia, even though they have fallen into disuse. Through the magical skills of a repair technician, they might once again be in a usable condition, so why not?
Pertama Electronic Services is Chiew Soon Foo’s pledge to put in patience and effort to achieve the best outcome. The family of three enjoy working together, to them, life is always fun and never boring.
有你 UNI Production
Producer : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang / Michael Lerk
Drone : Daniel Lim
Video Editor : Amelia Lim
Copywriter : Pua Hui Wen
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