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I’m The ‘1-By-1’ Shop Owner Who Still Would’ve Done What I Did If I Turned Back Time. Here’s Why

Unveiling it one by one.
Unless you lived in a cave or chose to completely isolate yourself from the rest of the world, you probably would have heard of or seen the now-infamous clip of the ‘1-by-1’ fight that took place at a convenience store in Penang.

Given the widespread attention that the clip had garnered following its dissemination on the Internet, I simply had to head over to the convenience store for myself and meet the man behind it all — Goh Yap Eng.

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Goh yap eng of pasar mini kim leong
Photo by WeirdKaya

Hard with the fists, but gentle at heart

When I met Goh at Pasar Mini Kim Leong at Seberang Jaya, I was surprised by his rather mild demeanor and found it quite hard to believe that this 49-year-old, clad in a blue t-shirt, jeans, and a pair of grey Crocs shoes, was the same person who knocked his opponent out cold in the viral clip.

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However, my doubts were subsequently put to rest when I discovered that Goh was a taekwondo practitioner of 10 years and a black belt holder who has won several national championships.

One would assume that given his natural talent, he would continue with his taekwondo journey but life had other plans for him.

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Interior of pasar mini kim leong
Photo by WeirdKaya

“When I was 15, I began helping out my father at Pasar Mini Kim Leong, which he established back in 1990. To be honest, I had no interest in running a convenience store but simply helped out for my dad’s sake. Since then, I never left and have been here for the past 34 years,” he said.

Despite possessing a pair of fists that have sent countless competitors to the floor and made them tap out frantically, Goh actually has an extremely soft side, especially when it comes to cats.

“In 1996, a female stray cat (Meowmi) wandered to the store and was meowing at me pitifully for food. I then took it in, fed it, and released it. However, she kept coming back and I continued to feed her.

Upon returning from a trip to Thailand, I was shocked to find out that Meowmi had given birth to four kittens inside the store.

Goh showing a photo of meowmi
Photo by WeirdKaya

“My parents didn’t want to keep them so I decided to raise them inside the store and released the kittens at a nearby food court after they were fully weaned,” he reminisced.

As for Meowmi, she continued to stay by Goh’s side until 2012, where she became gravely ill and had to be euthanised — an incident which traumitised him greatly.

“After Meowmi passed, I kept her ashes inside the fridge for 10 whole years because I was unable to let her go. When I bought my own house in 2022, I finally buried her ashes at the backyard.

“Some time after, a tree started growing out from the spot where her ashes were laid to rest and every time I see it, I’m reminded that she’s in a better place,” he said while struggling to fight the tears.

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Goh yap eng sharing meowmi's story
Photo by WeirdKaya

Cats and MORE cats

Following Meowmi’s passing, Goh resolved not to have another cat under his care as he didn’t want to subject himself to the same cycle of heartbreak.

But that all changed when Meowbo, the chonky cat who rose to fame thanks to the viral clip, walked into his life.

Photo by WeirdKaya

“Like Meowmi, Meowbo appeared at the store’s front door and gave me a super pitiful look that made it hard for me to turn her away. Soon, I found myself caring for her and later her four kittens which she gave birth to,” he said.

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Today, Goh’s currently taking care of six cats inside the store and five more at his own home. And it’s not hard to see why Goh has a hard time giving the cats away. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hold and cuddle these fluffballs everyday?

Meowbo's kid tua pui
Photo by WeirdKaya

‘I’m still not used to the attention’

Throughout my conversation with Goh, there was no shortage of customers and passersby who stepped into the store just to grab a drink, packets of ice, and of course, a photo with the man who unwittingly skyrocketed himself to online fame.

And it seems that the level of attention that he’s getting has left Goh slightly puzzled, something which he shared rather candidly with me when I asked what he thinks about him becoming a ‘celebrity’.

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I’m still not used to it. I’m just an ordinary guy who wears ripped jeans and faded t-shirts to work. Now, I have to put on some ‘makeup’ or ensure my clothes don’t look too sloppy for the public to see,” he said with a laugh.

On the monetary side, Goh’s newfound fame has brought in a slight increase in business, where he told me it had climbed by 10% since the viral clip was released.

Goh posing with customers
Photo by WeirdKaya

Wouldn’t do it differently

Naturally, I had to ask Goh what were his afterthoughts about the ‘1-by-1’ fight and whether he would have reacted differently if he could go back to that eventful night.

I was expecting him to say something along the lines of ‘Yes, of course I wish I did it differently’ but was proven wrong.

“If I could turn back time, I still would have done what I did that night because the (Indian) man was behaving rudely and pushed my limits. I had no choice.

“My only fear was that it would be spun into a racial issue as it involved two guys of different races and alcohol,” he said with his lips pursed.

1 by 1 gentleman fight in penang
Screenshot via X/@NaratifRakyat

While Goh has since made peace with the other man as witnessed through a photo widely shared online, he reiterated that it was nevertheless a lesson to be learnt from the altercation.

I don’t regret that the fight happened. It’s serves as a lesson to unreasonable people that not everyone is a pushover or that they can bully their way to getting what they want.

“Even when I was at the police station with him, he kept blaming the alcohol for his actions and I lectured him on what it means to take full responsibility for your actions. Sure, people get drunk every now and then, but how they handle it is what’s most important,” he said.

While I’m fairly certain that a similar fight won’t take place in the future (fingers crossed), what I do know for a fact is that what took place at Pasar Mini Kim Leong will forever be engraved in the memories of Malaysians, even if it is for a short while.

Pasar mini kim leong store front
Photo by WeirdKaya


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