Fong Mun Kwai

Lee Wah Jewellery

“Malaysia gold business is very well regulated. Unlike in other countries, the purity of gold you can get sued or be in court.”

Fong Mun Kwai

Conversation with the Owner of Lee Wah Jewellery

I’m Fong Mun Kwai from L.W. Jewellery in Jalan Bunga Raya, Melaka. I’m the second generation who runs this business. It was started by my dad. So far our customers come from all races lah. Malay, Chinese, Indian, Serani and even foreigners. My dad started this business in the 70’s. So,it’s about more than 50 years.

How does your father started the business?
He started from scratch. He was working for somebody. He saved some money and he rented a shop. Then the business flourished lah. He saved some money and he bought over the shop and from there it continues until now.

So, you’re the 2nd generation and how about the 3rd generation, will they continue with the business?
I don’t know because my son just graduated a few months ago. We just see first lor.
And the gold where did you get it from?
Normally, I get it from the suppliers. Factories from Penang, KL and Johor. Malaysia gold business is very well regulated. Unlike in other countries, the purity of gold you can get sued or be in court. The gold are not 100% genuine.

What are the most expensive pieces you sold in this shop?
It’s about 30 years ago I sold a gold wrist watch to a Japanese customer which cost about RM 7,000. And diamonds which sold about in value of 5 figures.

What was your fondest memories here when you were young?
When I was young, I used to come around and hanging out here in this shop. Leter after graduated and started to work here lah.

Did your father bought over this shop from a goldsmith business?
From what type of shop that I am not so clear about it. But i as i know, this shop to be a sundry shop. I think it is owned by Indians. A long time ago, maybe 70-80 years ago.

When you were young, do you remember the communities here?
Before it used to be so vibrant unlike now it’s so quiet. We hope somebody would bring up this area to be better and vibrant like before.

So, that’s your wish and hopes for the future lah?
Yes. If one thing is gone it’s gone forever. This is our history mah. You can’t erase history. Either we preserved it and enhanced it or lost it.

For this year Chinese New Year, those hundreds of lanterns. Who organised it all?
The business/shop owners along Bunga Raya, they donated some and some from the state government.

So, it’s the first time that they did put the lanterns all along the roads?
No, it’s the 2nd time. But we need more exposure to the public to let them know more about Bunga Raya. In the 1960’s-70’s it was the trade zone here in Melaka.

“...how do we grade gold, usually we see the colour and touch. By experience lah. If the gold is yellow it will cost higher.”

Conversation on
12 February 2020

What is the most popular kind of gold that your customer buys?
Normally they will buy the ready made golds. Sometimes they buy gold bars. Mostly they will buy ready made gold.

Maybe a bracelet or necklace? What’s the most popular and what mostly they buy?
Mostly they go for bracelets and necklaces.

Is this the best time to invest in gold?
We can’t speculate on this but things will go up in time lah.

Now what’s the price of gold?
1 gram is about RM100+. Like today the price of pure gold is Rm245. In Fact it is even higher than a a couple of years ago. So, i would say if you have the money to invest, it’s the time to do it.

How do we value the measure of gold?
All of this world gold value is determined by the world gold price. Like buying and selling lah. If a war happens the value of gold could go up or dip. We can’t 100% determine the prices. And how do we grade gold, usually we see the colour and touch. By experience lah. If the gold is yellow it will cost higher. Unlike lower grade gold the colour will be a lesser yellow. A bit greenish. If you gold on Malaysia you’re very safe. Because our country is very strict about the regulations lah.

How about other countries?
Other countries will be different. Some countries’ gold content is not that good like Malaysia. And the colour also. Asian countries have the gold content that is amongst the best in the world. Like Malaysia and Singapore. Thailand is lagging behind Malaysia.

What’s the best investment to invest in gold bars or gold coins?
Depends on the customer. If they want to keep it for a long time they will buy a gold bar.

Because you don’t have to pay the upah? (KOS UPAH = UPAH TUKANG = KOS TUKANG)
For those ready made one you already paid the upah . If you want to wear you cannot wear gold bar mah. So, it depends on the person.

The safest is the gold bar lah?
You can save it anywhere with the goldbar.

Last question: what do you see the future of the gold trade?
Maybe in the future for those who don’t have the spending power.They can always buy lesser lah. It’s the best that they start now. Probably buy 1grm or 2 gram per month or 2 months once. Buying physical goods are way much better than paper goods. Like you buy from the bank. Better than paper trading.Paper trading the price is lower than physical gold. And physical gold is much safer. If anything happened to the bank or gold institution it’s better to have it in your hand than paper one.

Thank You Mr Fong