Sun, Jan 11, 2009
The New Paper
Toa Payoh's 'nutty professor'

[PHOTO: Prof Zeng Guoyuan, the operator of a newly-opened shop in Toa Payoh drumming next to his pet bird. Some of the residents find his singing annoying. Others think he is entertaining.]

by Benson Ang

SOME residents in Toa Payoh are irritated by a new shop in the area, for two reasons.

One, there is a giant green banner with the letters 'FCUK' in black paint.

Two, the shop operator, acupuncturist Zeng Guoyuan, has allegedly been singing loudly and watching television with the volume turned up in front of the shop.

Two weeks ago, a giant banner of escaped JI detainee Mas Selamat was put up in front of this shop. This was before the self-styled Prof Zeng opened his shop. The banner was eventually removed by the town council.

The shop, which opened on Monday, is called Prof Zeng's Medical Centre. It is located near Toa Payoh Lorong 4.

Mr Zeng, in his 50s, sells shampoo to help hair growth, as well as slimming oil.

He was a Workers' Party candidate in Bukit Timah in the 1991 General Election, but was unsuccessful. The New Paper visited his shop thrice.

On Monday, Mr Zeng was singing loudly to karaoke videos on the large LCD screen in his shop. He was also banging on two African drums, and dancing.

On Tuesday, he was playing a video about a motivational speaker, with the volume turned up.

Retiree Mazie Chok, 78, who is living in Block 69, was so annoyed with the din that she confronted him and accused him of being bising (noisy in Malay).

Mr Zeng retorted: 'How can you call me bising? It's my shop and I can play what I like.'

When Madam Chok asked him why he was playing the video so loudly, Mr Zeng replied: 'I can't hear it! This is none of your business.'

Another resident, Mr Lemmont Tan, 48, who lives on the 11th floor of Block 69, said: 'I can hear the noise from my house. He starts playing his videos from the morning onwards, and it's so irritating.'

He is also upset with Prof Zeng for putting up the 'FCUK' banner.

Mr Tan said: 'It's so offensive and disgusting. It's not even a proper banner of the label.'

Mr Zeng said he put up the banner because 'it is a well-known clothing brand'.

He declined to elaborate, but simply added: 'Anybody can complain about anything. I don't care.'

He claimed he knew who had put up the poster of Mas Selamat up two weeks ago.

'I'm not offended at the man who put the poster up. I would have left it up there,' he said.

When The New Paper went to the shop last evening, the 'FCUK' banner was still up, although it was rolled up.

Mr Zeng was watching a slideshow of photographs of him and other people.

Also displayed in his shop were images of him with public figures, among them Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and President S R Nathan.

When asked if the images were for publicity purposes, he replied: 'You can say so.'

But did he have permission of these public figures to use their images in his shop?

'I have the copyright of these images and I can do what I want with them,' Mr Zeng said.

'As long as I don't manipulate the photos, it's okay,' he added.

However, not everyone is irritated by his antics.

Some passers-by started clapping when they walked by his shop. Others stood some distance away, chuckling.

Said Mr Darren Toh, 36, who works in a bicycle shop opposite Mr Zeng's shop: 'He makes the place more lively and exciting. He's a clown, but he is interesting to watch when I'm working.'

He said Mr Zeng puts up a punching bag at least once a day, and practises boxing in public.

'It's okay as long as he doesn't intrude into people's businesses,' said Mr Toh.

This article first appeared in The New Paper on Jan 9, 2009.

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