Mr Lai Yew Onn is the owner of Yew Chye Religious Goods Trading, located in Chinatown. He shared that by the 1980s, there were around ten shops making paper offerings in Chinatown. However, only two or three of these shops remain and all have moved out of the Chinatown area.
Mr Lai, who has been making paper offerings since he was 18, has a stellar reputation for being able to fulfil tough customers’ requests for all kinds of paper offerings. He has made non-traditional items such as a paper dog, a motorcycle, drums, golf clubs, and even a personalised bungalow with a garden.
To Mr Lai, innovation is the key to staying afloat. As many customers prefer customised items, it is up to the craftsman to adapt or create new products with sophisticated details. Mr Lai does not make the offerings from scratch: he gets bamboo and paper from local suppliers, and decorative items such as flowers and faces from local shops. However, he does most of the laborious and time-consuming work himself, including the splitting of the bamboo sticks.