‘It’s not up to us’: Karung guni men pin hopes on young Singaporeans to revive sunset industry

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“For those eight days a month (when our stalls are open) we earn about S$1,000. After paying rent I earn around S$600 to S$800,” says an older dealer who has been in the business for over 40 years.

“The other days that I am not there, I work elsewhere. No choice because no one comes here during the week. Some sellers don’t get much business at all and it’s not worth it for them to set up shop here so they (leave the business),” he added.

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SUNSET INDUSTRY

“Karung guni” means “burlap sack” in Malay, which was historically pulled on the backs of local rag men as they visited houses from door to door while honking their horns.

Traditionally, they collect old newspapers, used clothing, discarded electrical appliances and other unwanted items that can be resold.

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