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There's been uptick in the number of food feuds as hawker businesses are being passed to their founders' respective second generations. An ongoing battle of the curry puffs between Tanglin Crispy Curry Puff and Tanglin Crispy Curry Puff Original brings things to the next level, with two brothers setting up shop one unit apart from each other at Hong Lim Market & Food Centre.
How the split happened
Ng Yong Cheong, 82, started hawking curry puffs from a tricycle in 1952, and later moved to Hong Lim Market. He and his wife retired in March and handed over the reins to their sons, Peter, 56, and Ray, 50.
Peter currently operates from the original store, while Ray took over the nearby unit after the falling out.
Peter told Shin Min Daily News on May 21 that his father had transferred the stall to his name as his younger brother left the family business to work in another industry. The unhappiness is said to have begun after Ray decided to return as they disagreed on how profit should be distributed.
Ray refuted this claim, alleging that it was Peter who suggested the split, and that their father had "no choice" but to open the second stall.
Problem started years ago
Ray claims that he has been learning the ropes from his father for the longest period of time, as he started working at the stall when he was 25. About six years ago, he fell sick from overwork and rested for three to four years before his short stint as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
He continued that his father asked him to go back to the curry puff stall after Peter got to know a woman from China. Their father is reported to have disagreed with Peter's decision to ask her to help out at the stall, and that his brother's personality changed completely after getting to know the woman.
Peter, on the other hand, said that he was dissatisfied with how his family was treating his fiancée, who is now a Singapore citizen. He added that Ray's girlfriend also helps out the stall, questioning why his fiancée, whom he got acquainted with when his former marriage was on the rocks, was not allowed to do the same.
Business booming at new stall
According to Peter, Ray agreed to their father's request to move to a new location in six months, which was why he allowed his younger brother to use their original signboard. He alleges that Ray went ahead to register the company name, which left him with no choice but to add the word 'Original' to the back of the name of his stall.
As customers are only familiar with the original name and assume he's started a new brand on his own, Peter says that Ray's business is doing twice as well as his.
Yong Cheong would also sit in front of Ray's stall, which Peter claims was an indirect way of diverting more business there.
Father steps up to refute Peter's side of the story
After the original report was published, Yong Cheong contacted Shin Min Daily News to clarify that the root of the problem is Peter's fiancée.
He shared that the woman "caused a lot of problems", which includes an incident that happened before Chinese New Year. Peter and his fiancée allegedly went to Yong Cheong's home at around 11pm demanding to know why she was not allowed to help out at the stall.
According to Yong Cheong, the woman slammed the table while telling him off, which angered him so much that he ended up in the hospital for three weeks.
I couldn't even celebrate Chinese New Year. It's been two months (since it happened) and I can't go to the stall (as) I'm recuperating at home. My older son hasn't even called me once to ask after my health.
My heart hurts because he's caused this much trouble even when I'm still alive. As long as I'm alive, the stall that he's operating out of belongs to me and I hope that he will return it to me and open his own somewhere else.
Peter's fiancée speaks up
Peter's fiancée, a 37-year-old who only identified herself to Shin Min with her surname Yang, denied that she ever told Yong Cheong off, claiming that she was only asking why she was not allowed to help out at the stall. She alleged that it was the old man who slammed the table first while shouting at her, which was why she did the same in response.
Yang added that she has fought with Peter "a few times" because she could not understand why Ray's girlfriend was given permission when she was not. She decided to question Yong Cheong about it because she found it "unfair".
She also feels "wronged" as she was called a third party when she helped out at the stall, and that she once broke down and cried after being told off by Yeong Cheong.
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Top photos courtesy of Shin Min Daily News.
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