Facing Covid-19 and debt collectors, ‘world famous’ Air Itam assam laksa stall closes down after 66 years

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The Air Itam Market Laksa in Penang has closed down today after being in operation for the past 66 years. ― Picture via Facebook/ Penang Air Itam Laksa
The Air Itam Market Laksa in Penang has closed down today after being in operation for the past 66 years. ― Picture via Facebook/ Penang Air Itam Laksa

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 ― A renowned assam laksa stall in Air Itam, Penang has closed down today after being in operation for the past 66 years, due to dwindling business caused by Covid-19 and mounting debt.

Ang Kak Seong, 72, owner of the Air Itam Market Laksa ― which made headlines all over the country for being featured on CNN’s world’s best food list ― shared on Facebook that the pandemic and its following movement control orders (MCO) made it hard for him to continue his business.

“[May 18] will be the last day of business ... Thanks for supporting for so many years,” he wrote after completing his final day at work yesterday.

Ang added that he was also forced to close his shop indefinitely as he was harassed by debt collectors looking for money owed to them by his estranged 47-year-old son, Ang Kat Foo, adding that he has had to pay off the debt as the son has since gone missing.

“I have been forced to pay off my son’s loans again and again,” he said.

He added that the family’s decision to disown his son comes after the tremendous losses the family incurred from the son’s multiple debts.

In a statement, Air Itam Assemblyman Joseph Ng said that Ang sought his help over the constant harassment he endured from debt collectors.

“His son has repeatedly defaulted on multiple sets of debts, so the creditors went to the laksa stall to collect money several times.

“Ang was unable to repay the debt for his son so the whole family, including his wife and daughters, have decided to break family ties with his eldest son,” Ng said.

Ang also expressed his gratitude to his customers who frequented his little stall and thanked his old neighbours who supported his laksa business for over half a century.

“Ang also thanked the media for their coverage of his business and exposure over the years, which allowed his small booth to be internationally featured.

“Temporarily quitting is a compelling and painful decision, but Ang hopes that everyone can understand his pain and suffering,” Ng said.

Ng said that the impact of the MCO has made life rather difficult for traders, but he expressed hope that Ang would take a short break, reconsider his decision and restart his laksa business in the near future.

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