Among the last: At 78, Ezekiel Velu has been a petition writer in Ipoh for 58 years and does not plan to stop

Septogenarian Ezekiel Velu is one of the surviving petition writers in Ipoh who steadfastly ensures the trade continues. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Septogenarian Ezekiel Velu is one of the surviving petition writers in Ipoh who steadfastly ensures the trade continues. — Picture by Farhan Najib

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IPOH, April 6 — Septuagenarian Ezekiel Velu cuts a lorn figure under a tree at Dato’ Sagor food court parking lot.

Armed with a typewriter, table and three chairs, he is one of the surviving petition writers in the city who is steadfastly ensuring the trade continues.

The 78-year-old said he diligently opens his makeshift office daily as his means to earn a living. 

“My children did ask me to stop but I insist on continuing. It is better to be active than sitting at home,” said the father of five, who stays at First Garden.

The Dato’ Sagor food court, which is next to the court house, is where lawyers and policemen normally go for their meals. 

Ezekiel said he takes a bus from his house to Dato’ Sagor every Monday to Friday to ply his trade.

“My table and chairs are chained to the perimetre fencing of the state mosque while the typewriter is kept by one of the hawkers in Dato’ Sagor food court.”

Ezekiel said he had been in the trade for more than half a century, starting out in 1963.

Speaking to Malay Mail, he said when he first started, there were some 40 petition writers in the area due to the proximity to the court buildings.

“Our services are important then as we are needed to type out legal letters, applications, tender papers, wills and other documents.”

As time passes, with no younger generation joining the trade and the advancement of technology, the number of petition writers dwindled with Ezekiel is one of the last surviving ones now.

Asked how long he planned to work, Ezekiel said he would go on as long as he could but his operating hours had been reduced from 9am to about noon.

His day, however, does not end after the typewriter is safely secured into its carrier and the tables and chairs are chained to the perimetre wall.

“In the evening, I volunteer at my church.”

Ezekiel, a former runner who took part in various marathons in the 1980s, also said he still runs to keep fit.

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