Teck Joo Textiles

At eight o’clock in the morning, trees and leaves are swaying in the gentle breeze. Hale and hearty nonagenarian Mr Ho Teck Yin steps out from his wooden cottage and walks to have breakfast at a traditional coffee shop on the main street. After his meal, he reads the newspaper which he bought along the way. When the clock strikes nine, he gets to his feet again, walking towards Teck Joo textile shop located on the ground floor of Tampin Hokkien Association building to start his day’s work.

Tampin is a uniquely positioned small town, with its main street cutting across the states of Negri Sembilan and Melaka, the borderline being a lane decorated with colorful murals. Mere steps away, business and social activities are governed by different municipalities, local residents are used to making multiple cross-state trips on a daily basis. Among them is Mr Ho, who resides in Pulau Sebang of Melaka yet his shop is in Tampin.

Teck Joo textile shop is managed by Mr Ho and his wife Madam Liew Ah Chan @ Liew Kok Moi, comprising half a shoplot filled with various textiles. The shop appearance is somewhat bleak, with the peeling paint on the signboard making it unclear. Arriving on foot, Mr Ho opens the metal shutters and lets down the wooden blinds to prevent direct sunlight exposure fading textile colors. Madam Liew, who suffers from reduced mobility thus requiring a lift from a friend, comes in later accompanied by her daughter. The old couple takes care of the shop together, chatting and joking happily, until five o’clock when they go home to rest. Such is their daily routine, enjoying old age in peace.

Mr Ho is born in Seremban, but moved to Tampin with his parents at five years old. During his youth, he worked in Singapore, where he met his wife, and decided to settle down in Tampin after getting married. Mr Ho co-founded a textile shop with a few friends, however they parted ways soon after, and he set up his own shop since 1958. Mr Ho’s father named the shop “Teck Joo”, implying ethical and fortune respectively. The early days of their start up were difficult, Mr Ho and wife had to tighten their belts to bring up eight children. During the great inflation in the 70’s, they toiled hard from dawn till night, thus managing to save up some money and lead a better life.

Teck Joo offers a range of common fabrics: plain cloth in red, white, and yellow for traditional rituals; batik for traditional Malay clothing such as baju kurung and sarung; premium suit fabrics are sought after by tailor shops. As large chain stores which offer more options at cheaper prices are established, and ready-made garments take over the clothing market, traditional textile shops in Tampin all closed down, except for Teck Joo.

Mr Ho and wife are happy-go-lucky, content to be running a small shop instead of building a business empire. Now that their children are self-sufficient, their means of making ends meet has turned into a pastime. All inventory payments are cleared, hence they are not too worried about the declining sales. The old couple even planned to donate the fabrics to the needy after their retirement, as suggested by their son.

Over time, sweet and bitter moments in life are brewed into a cozy cup of tea. Apart from good health, Mr Ho and Madam Liew have nothing to ask for in their advanced age.

Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen

有你 UNI Production
Producer : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang / Michael Lerk
Drone : Daniel Lim
Video Editor : Michael Lerk
Copywriter : Pua Hui Wen
Music : 《The Home》 《Just A Little Hope》


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