Restaurant owner gives out blankets to those sleeping on Chinatown streets as cool weather continues

Mr Francis Ng (left) delivering a blanket to carpenter Chua Yong Sia, 61, who has been sleeping homeless in Chinatown for the last few years. ST PHOTO: LIM MIN ZHANG
Mr Francis Ng giving out a blanket to a man resting at a staircase landing in Chinatown Complex. ST PHOTO: LIM MIN ZHANG

SINGAPORE - While many are sleeping comfortably at home in the cool weather, some people spending the night on the streets get by without a blanket.

The sight of an old man in Chinatown shivering while trying to sleep moved Mr Francis Ng to action last week.

Since last Thursday (Jan 4), the restaurant owner has been giving out blankets to those sleeping on the streets, mainly in mature estates such as Tiong Bahru, Redhill and Toa Payoh.

He estimated that he has given out more than 100 blankets so far. They cost around $10 per piece.

In the early hours of a rainy Saturday morning (Jan 13), The Straits Times followed Mr Ng, 44, on his solo mission to do good. In about an hour, he delivered nine blankets in Chinatown to mostly elderly men.

Some of them lie on benches and reclining chairs, while make do with a piece of cardboard on the ground.

The heartwarming act came amid the cool spell in recent days.

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The Jurong West area recorded the island's lowest temperature of 21.4 deg C on Friday (Jan 12), noted the National Environment Agency in a Facebook post the same day, as Singaporeans continue to experience cool and rainy weather due to a monsoon surge.

The daily minimum temperature at other locations ranged between 21.7 deg C and 23.1 deg C.

Mr Ng, who owns the House of Seafood restaurant in Punggol, said: "Some of them are regulars here, they know how to move around and sleep only late at night to avoid the police and social workers."

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Used to the sweltering heat, Singaporeans are resorting to winter wear, hot drinks and even using the heater to combat the sudden dip in temperature.

Some woke up briefly to acknowledge Mr Ng, who sometimes struck up a conversation with them. Others just turned back to sleep.

One of them was carpenter and odd-jobs worker Chua Yong Sia, 61, who has been sleeping on the streets in Chinatown for the last three to four years. He said there are about 10 to 20 people sleeping in the area every day.

"If not for this blanket, I would be very cold," he said, referring to the one given to him by Mr Ng. He was using his bag as a pillow.

Said Mr Ng: "I just hope that by doing this I can make a difference in my own small way."

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