THE able-bodied young man in his Reebok shoes sat quietly on the floor along the underpass between Orchard MRT station and Shaw House on Orchard Road.And openly begged as he watched the world go by.In front of him was a piece of paper showing a photocopy of his NRIC and a note that said: 'Family poor. Brother and sister not working. Please donate.'Next to the note was a plastic container for donations.Goh Sung Wee, 25, did not seem to be doing too well on Tuesday night - there was just 60 cents in the container.The New Paper watched him for over an hour before approaching him - and saw only one donor.But he didn't seem too hard-up in his fancy Reebok trainers, bermudas and polo shirt.Ah, but that's why he was there.He said proudly: 'I got these shoes and my spectacles with the money I got from here.'Indeed a chat with him revealed his persistence.He claimed he has been begging for more than a year because he hasn't been able to find a job.But then he has been rather choosy.He wouldn't say at first what kind of work he was looking for. But after repeated questioning, he said he was looking for work as a cleaner.And when was the last time he applied for a job?He hesitated, then said: 'I tried a few times already, cannot find.'Then out came his choosiness. He said in Mandarin: 'I only want to find a job near where I live in Hougang. It must be within walking distance, if not I don't want.'It's not worth it if I have to pay to take the bus and MRT to work every day.'
Yet, he travels from Hougang to Orchard Road to beg.'I don't come here every day. Maybe two, three times a week,' he claimed.Even then he takes it easy.'I come down here when I wake up, about three or four in the afternoon,' he said.And then he begs for five to six hours before heading back home.But why does he get up so late in the day?'I sleep very late at night,' he said.He likes to watch TV late into the night.HAS NEVER WORKED IN HIS LIFE Goh revealed he has never worked a day in his life.He stopped school after Sec 4 and has been jobless ever since. He got by on pocket money from his parents.The eldest of four children, Goh said his father is a taxi driver and mother a housewife.
He said his parents still give him pocket money, but declined to say how much.'It's indefinite. Some weeks I get more money.'His parents have been supporting him for over 20 years. Isn't it time he started looking after them?He stared blankly before answering: 'The best is if they can fully support me.' It was clear that he had also not thought about the day when his parents can no longer give him money.When this was put to him, he stared vacantly.Then, he said: 'Wah, I hope that day never comes.'One of his younger brothers, he said, is a swimming instructor who earns his own keep and even gives his parents money. Another brother is still in secondary school and his sister, is studying in a polytechnic.Initially, he claimed his parents were aware he was begging and had no objections since he was getting money.
But later, when we asked to get in touch with them, he admitted they do not know he's been begging.As a cleaner he could earn about $750 to $1,200 a month, compared to the $10 to $40 he said he can get each day by begging.But he insisted he wanted to work only near his home in Hougang.And it's not as if he never strikes it rich.Once, he said excitedly, he had collected about $230 in a day - $200 was from a single donor.He also recounted how he had met a young woman in the Orchard Road underpass, who received $4,000 from a donor. He never saw her again.'I see other other people do it, so I also come and be a beggar. Also good what. Just sit here can get money, I can buy cigarettes,' he said, opening up his cigarette case to show this reporter.