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Mohammad Asgar, 52, usually has a queue for his famed teh sarbat tarik, black tea pulled with a dash of milk and ginger extract. When he makes his gloriously frothy beverage, onlookers whip out their phones to Instagram him in action.


Asgar is a bit of a celebrity at his popular Bhai Sarbat teh tarik stall at Kampong Glam. The business was passed down to him by his uncle, who opened it in 1977. But for the past two months, Asgar has been struggling with his rent. His business, once roaring, had nosedived by as much as 70 to 80 per cent in the days leading up to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert).

“Two times my landlord asked, where’s the rent?” he tells 8days.sg in his brand of heartfelt English. “I just tell them, ‘Give me time, give me time’.” These days, he earns between $100 to $300 a day, barely enough to pay his employees and cover rent. “My own salary never come, never mind. But I want to pay my staff. Then not enough left for my rental. I save zero per cent. That’s why I’m very scared. What to do?” he sighs. 

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