SCMP Saturday, August 5, 2000

'Monkey man' sees wish fulfilled


Beaming with delight, "monkey man" Chan Yat-biu was yesterday reunited with his beloved pet monkey, confiscated by officials almost three months ago.

The reunion of the 90-year-old hawker and three-year-old Kam Ying, which means golden eagle, came after Mr Chan was released from Wong Tai Sin Hospital, where he said he spent sleepless nights thinking about his pet.

The seizure of the monkey - because Mr Chan did not have a licence for her - drew public outcry, with thousands of people signing petitions demanding Kam Ying be returned to him. A court ruled in favour of the reunion last month.

The reunion was delayed because Mr Chan was in hospital for 13 days with breathing problems. He said yesterday: "I missed her sitting in the hospital by myself so many nights, wondering what she was doing and worrying she may forget my training."

As he hobbled back into his tiny Kowloon City home in front of a scrum of newspaper and TV cameras, he greeted his once-lost pet with a warm smile and fed her fruit.

Kam Ying appeared a little bemused at the media attention. "Be good and listen to me," Mr Chan said to the monkey.

The animal was annoyed by the camera flashes and occasionally tried to reach through her cage to grab at people. "Kam Ying, don't be naughty," Mr Chan said sternly, at which point she stopped and hid in a corner.

Mr Chan said: "I'm now so glad and happy to see her again. But it appears she has been a lazy girl while I was away and has forgotten the skills I taught her."

Mr Chan used to sell Chinese medicine on the streets of Kowloon City and Mongkok with Kam Ying, who was a gift from friends. Kam Ying had been taught to salute onlookers, do somersaults and hide in Mr Chan's vest.

"I think it will take at least a year or 18 months to retrain her, but I'll have to do it because she's my lucky charm," he said.