Former M'sian Para-Athlete Has To Resort To Selling Fire Extinguishers To Survive

Speaking to SAYS, Mogan Subramaniam shared that he even wrote a letter to former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in March 2021 appealing for help, but he has never heard back from Muhyiddin nor his local member of parliament (MP).

Cover image via Mogan Subramaniam (Provided to SAYS)

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Despite losing a family member and being divorced, a former Malaysian para-athlete continues to fight in life by selling fire extinguishers to make a living

The story of former para powerlifting athlete Mogan Subramaniam was first shared by activist Kuan Chee Heng, more fondly known as Uncle Kentang, in a Facebook post on Sunday, 27 March.

Kuan said that Mogan is a diligent and self-reliant individual who does not give up on life even though he is a person with disabilities (OKU).

He was divorced in 2002, the same year his feet were amputated due to a medical condition. After that, he lived with his older sister but the latter passed away, leaving him alone.

At the age of 48, Mogan supports himself solely by selling fire extinguishers. In a good month, he makes about RM800 to RM1,000.

He receives an additional RM450 monthly from the Social Welfare Department (JKM), all of which is merely enough to pay for his rent, utilities, and living expenses.

No matter what life throws at him, Mogan perseveres

The former athlete has a motorcycle that was used to deliver fire extinguishers to his clients, but it has broken down.

When Kuan met Mogan, the activist asked Malaysians to help him as he desperately needed a four-wheel motorcycle to make deliveries.

And very quickly, a grocery business owner in Penang stepped in to help. Speaking to SAYS over a phone call, the former para-athlete said it will take a few weeks for the motorcycle to be ready for an OKU rider due to modification works and registrations.

When asked to talk more about his journey as a former para-athlete, Mogan said he suffered from walking difficulties in 2001 and received an OKU card in the same year

In 2002, he had to amputate his legs. Between then and 2006, Mogan said he competed in powerlifting events at the national level.

Photos shared with this SAYS writer shows that he held a classification card from the Malaysian Paralympic Council in 2002 and had won many medals within those years.

During the period, he also attended an information system administration training programme provided by the National Skill Qualification Awarding Department (MLVK), where he completed two levels of the course.

Thanks to that, he said that he is able to manage his own documents in his fire extinguisher business, among other things.

Even while he was training under the national team, he had also held various jobs in Kuala Lumpur as a cashier to support himself.  

Mogan managed to lead a simple life over the years until things went south when he met with a tragic accident in 2015 and lost his elder sister in the tragedy

Sharing a police report with SAYS, it is learnt that Mogan was involved in an accident with a lorry at a rest and relaxation (R&R) station in Tapah, Perak on 24 March 2015.

As he was ready to continue his drive at 3am, he collided with a lorry coming from a dark corner, which did not use its turn signals.

He suffered severe injuries to his right arm, chest, and the back of his body. He was rushed to the hospital for treatment.

It was during the accident that he lost his sister, who was sitting in the passenger seat. She died at the scene, while another individual, a part-time worker who was seated at the back, died while receiving treatment in the hospital.

Following that, he was evicted from his sister's house after her passing. Mogan told SAYS that they lived together for many years, and that she was also an OKU.

After the accident, Mogan was unable to repay a loan he borrowed from Tekun Nasional, a government initiative to help local entrepreneurs

In a letter to former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin dated 16 March 2021, he appealed to the premier's help as the default has made him blacklisted by the banks, according to credit reporting agency CTOS.

He said that he borrowed RM30,000 in 2012 and paid back RM12,000. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he borrowed another RM10,000, which the government offered to entrepreneurs without interest.

Together with interest, he owes a total of RM34,093. Mogan said the blacklist made it difficult for him to turn over a new leaf after the accident, as well as contracting COVID-19 last year.

He also sought help from Bukit Gantang member of parliament (MP) Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal.

"But none of the politicians have ever helped me," Mogan told SAYS in a phone call interview.

With the access to bank loans being cut off, he was stuck in the middle between continuing his fire extinguisher business efficiently and repaying his debt

Activist Kuan said that Mogan had to rely on taxi services to make deliveries, which can be very costly as he needs to make trips to the Fire and Rescue Departments to register the fire extinguishers before sales.

He told SAYS that he has been running the business since 2009. His clients include Tamil vernacular schools and other local businesses in Taiping.

The former para-athlete is elated that he will be receiving a four-wheel motorcycle, but he said more help is needed to get out of debt.

If you wish to help, you can call him at +6016-4823583 or you can donate to his bank account.

The details are as follows:
Account number: 558051356990
Bank: Maybank
Name: Mogan a/l Subramaniam

During the pandemic, stories of Malaysian Paralympic athletes struggling to make ends meet caught the public's attention:

There have been a number of other para-athletes who now live a life of neglect despite having brought glory and gold for Malaysia:

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