Asia

The Malaysian 'Pokemon soft toy uncle' rescued by the internet

'Uncle David' Image copyright Woon King Chai
Image caption 'Uncle David' is known to many in Kuala Lumpur for his hard work selling plushies

It began as just another heartbreaking story on the internet of an elderly, cancer-stricken soft toy seller left despairing after a mystery buyer never showed up to collect a bulk order of toys. This is what happened.

'Uncle David' has a regular spot peddling soft toys

For the last 15 years, a man known affectionately as "Uncle David" has frequented a corner of the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. He sells trinkets and soft toys daily to make ends meet.

On most days, you will find him outside a bank in the centre of the city.

He was diagnosed with cancer last year, and has now recovered, he says, but kept on plying his trade.

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Media captionThe "Pokemon soft toy uncle" rescued by the internet
Image copyright Woon King Chai
Image caption Usually spotted outside a bank in uptown Kuala Lumpur, the elderly man said staff are "very supportive" and do not chase him away

One customer placed a huge order

This week "a man reserved 250 soft toys with me. I told him to please come by and pick them up. I kept the toys but he did not show up," he said.

He was left with more toys than he could sell, having bought them from a wholesaler, a difficult situation for him.

Then one person put out a call on Facebook

"A kind soul saw me and posted what had happened on Facebook."

The post in Chinese, written by blogger Vivian Tok, urged fellow Malaysians to visit the elderly street peddler and support him.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption This was the original Facebook post that went viral

"Those who like playing Pokémon Go, don't waste your time playing the game.

Please help Uncle David, someone ordered 250 Pokemon toys from him but never turned up to collect them. Now poor Uncle David's hard-earned money is stuck with his stock. Please share this post and help him," the post read.

And it worked. People flocked to buy the toys

News of Uncle David's predicament soon made its way across Facebook and went viral, drawing outrage from netizens around the country and the region.

Image copyright Woon King Chai
Image caption Thanks to the power of social media, many netizens who read his story turned up to buy Uncle David's toys

"To the irresponsible buyer: If you weren't going to turn up why would you put the poor man through all that and order so many toys," questioned Mylene Kua from Ipoh.

Other Malaysians on Facebook slammed it as a "sick joke".

Many shared the old man's location and encouraged each other to visit him and buy off the unsold toys.

He has not had the easiest of lives

Uncle David's full name is David Christopher and moved to Kuala Lumpur at the age of 50 so that his son, who was then five, could go to a school in the capital.

He sacrificed a high income job managing discos from Kuala Lumpur right up to Sabah, in East Malaysia. So he turned to walking the streets to sell soft toys, which enabled him to spend more time with his son.

"My son [is] still in college and because I married late, he is only 20-years-old. So, he's still furthering his education."

And 'Soft toy uncle' is very grateful

"The response was fantastic. Within two hours, 190 toys were sold and eventually the balance was also sold," said a grateful Uncle David, who added that he was very appreciative of the public support, but would not accept additional payment for his toys.

"If people want to cheat, I can't do anything about it. But I thank social media as it helped to boost my sales and I am thankful for everyone who came down.

He said demand had become so overwhelming, he has had to increase his regular order with wholesalers.

"Whatever it is, I will continue to sell [my toys]," he said.

However, he insists on "honesty" by maintaining his prices.

Reporting by Woon King Chai in Kuala Lumpur and the BBC's Heather Chen in Singapore.