Elderly man left in van: Man's plight moves strangers to reach out

But caregiver rejects money, hopes to place brother-in-law in daycare

THE story of a noodle seller caring for his brother-in-law has moved the boss of a wine and spirits export company so much that he is offering to donate $700 a month to help pay for the intellectually disabled man's care.

The managing director of EPL Alliance, Mr Eric Ng, wants to pay for a place at a daycare centre for Mr Mah Ah Wah's brother-in-law, Mr Lee Guan.

Mr Mah, 67, could not afford to pay for a place at a daycare centre because of his meagre $1,000 monthly earnings as the owner of a noodle stall in Jurong East.

But Mr Ng, 41, believes that everyone should be cared for.

"I think every human being in the world deserves the right to live well," said Mr Ng.

He said he respects Mr Mah for shouldering the burden of caring for Mr Lee, 61, despite his financial difficulties, and is committed to donating "for as long as he needs it".

Mr Ng was one of seven people who have stepped forward to offer financial assistance to Mr Mah after they read about Mr Lee's plight in The Straits Times yesterday.

For the past 10 years, Mr Mah has been taking Mr Lee to work in a van. He then leaves his brother-in-law, who has low IQ, in the van for six hours while he works in his stall.

Mr Mah said this is his best option as he is worried that Mr Lee might get hurt if he is left at home alone. He initially took Mr Lee to his stall, but he became bored easily and started making noise, disturbing other stall owners and shoppers at the wet market.

Even yesterday, Mr Lee was seen sitting in the van, staring idly out of the window.

Another reader, Mrs Lisa Arlando, 47, said she is banding together with a handful of friends to raise money for Mr Mah, in the hopes that it will help him as he cares for his 64-year-old wife, who uses a wheelchair, and Mr Lee.

"It is just amazing he works so hard to support his brother-in- law and his wheelchair-bound wife," said the housewife. "I want to do my part. I don't want to assume that someone else is going to step up."

Personal assistant Lim Yuwen, who is from Johor Baru, said she felt compelled to help a fellow Malaysian. "Whether in Singapore or Malaysia, if there is a Malaysian who needs help, I will try," said the 34-year-old.

Others also offered to help pay for Mr Lee to stay at a nursing home in Johor Baru for five years, or cover part of the cost for local daycare.

When told that people wanted to help him, Mr Mah said he was thankful but could not accept their money.

He said that all he wants is for a daycare centre to look after Mr Lee while he works, and that he will look at his finances again when a place is secured.

"If I have enough now, then there's no need to trouble other people," he said. "Tell them 'thank you', but I cannot accept their money."

samboh@sph.com.sg