Learning > Inspiration

90-year-old print boss has no plans to retire

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Salma Khalik on 01 Sep 2019

The Straits Times

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Mr Lee Chai Hin drives his silver Toyota Camry car from his home in Jurong East to his printing business, Milton Press, in Bukit Merah every morning. There, he turns on his computer and works on the day's orders "and whatever else needs to be taken care of", he says.

 

He is in the office before 10am and leaves after 7pm, on weekdays.

 

Mr Lee is 90 years old.

 

He used to go out to meet clients, but stopped doing that about two years ago. His knees hurt when he walks too much. He says: "I let the younger people do that now."

 

Two of his eight children help run the printing business, which he started more than 40 years ago.

 

He says he does not have much education. His studies were interrupted, after four years of primary school, by the Japanese Occupation.

 

When the British returned, he attended night classes to pick up some English.

 

He worked as a storekeeper, then decided to set up the printing business when he was in his 40s.

 

"We print everything... except money," he laughs.

 

He admits that he has made enough money to retire on. But he has no plans to do so as long as he is able to continue working. He says: "If I don't come to work, what will I do? Stay home and sleep?"

 

STILL EXERCISES EVERY DAY

 

Retirement might not be too far off, he admits, since his knees and fingers have been afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis.

 

But he was fit enough two years ago to paint his five-room flat, where he lives with his wife, 85, and a domestic helper.

 

He used to go for hour-long runs at Mount Faber or Peirce Reservoir, but that is no longer possible. He now does about 30 minutes of exercise daily at the Chinese Garden.

 

He was diagnosed with cancer of the lung four years ago and underwent an operation to remove the tumour. Given his age, the doctors did not recommend chemotherapy.

 

His lung cancer could be because he used to smoke when he was younger. He gave up the habit when he was in his late 50s after a bad coughing fit and was told by his doctor that smoking was bad for health.

 

His business being so much a part of his life, he was working up to the day of his surgery.

 

Mr Lee does take breaks, occasionally playing mahjong with his children, or travelling. For him, Guangdong in China stands out for its exceptional Cantonese and Teochew cuisine.

 

He has a passion for food and whips up dishes for the family regularly. "Cooking is easy," says Mr Lee, who learnt to cook by trial and error. "Just add a dash of soya sauce and sugar."

 

One of his granddaughters said her favourite dish is his bee hoon.

 

But he prefers his dish of glutinous rice wrapped in beancurd skin, stuffed with peanuts, shrimp and pork, that is lightly pan-fried after it is steamed.

 

He adds that he cooks best when he is happy. He cooks most days.

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

 

 

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