Monday, January 19, 2009

John Chan Hiu Fei and Mary Kong Wah Kiew

My parents, John and Mary. They loved each other and they loved us. They worked very hard for us.

My mum was a young war bride. She had eight pregnancies and nine children. Mum was strict but can be quite fun at times. She was the adventurous spouse and took risks. She was involved in social work, and was the president of the women's institute and patron of the girl guides in Sarikei.

Recently, I met up with Mrs. T who was a good neighbour of Mum, and she recounted the charity work that Mum used to do. It is very comforting to hear from her peers that she was a good woman.

Mum died suddenly in 1988 at 60 in Australia. It was a very sad time.

Dad was among the early Sarawak Government scholarship holders to study in England in the 1950s. He retired as the Divisional Education Officer. He passed away  in 2006 at 84 in Kuching, Sarawak. It was a good home going. I admire Dad very much, he did not remarry.

In my work in progress book, " One Hundred Years in Borneo," I have written about Mum and Dad. It is a pity my children didn't get to know this likable woman.

***This pix was taken in December 1986 in Brisbane with Helen and D. That summer was the last time I saw her alive.***

Mother was the Chairman for Girls Guide, although she couldn't speak English in the Girls' Guide, she was roped in as the DEO's wife to be the face of the guide, so that they can get the funds for charity event.

WI - I think also chairman but Elizabeth or Helen will remember title. I don't know whether she was good at operations or marketing, but she did organise huge fund raising events in Sarikei. She was able to get plenty of donations from everywhere.

She was also very active in the Lady's Guild at the Church. From what I can remember, she wasn't so involved in the management but she did cook for fund raising events and also went along on trips to clean the old folks home.

Now, when I tell my peers from Sarikei that I bake and cook... they are not surprised at all because they knew my mother was famous for it.


Mother's education was stopped with the start of the World War 2. During the war, at 16, she was forced to married Dad, a man she didn't know. But in the 1980s, in her 50s, she went to Australia and topped the ESOL students. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Ann

Dad wanted to read law in England. At that time, the Brits were having problems with lawyers like Tunku Abdul Rahman of Malaya. Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore etc.

Dad had no choice. He had no money. The Brits told him to study Education.

In 1988 after mum's death, I asked him to read Law in Queensland as a very mature student. He lost interest then.

His two sons are Australian Lawyers.

His Granddaughter KT (LLB, Griffith) is a trainee lawyer at Chan Lawyers in Australia. His other granddaughter Gab is reading Law at Auckland, NZ.

Love JC