About The Author, Chong Sheau Ching
Sources: Malaysian Voices, 2000
Born and bred in Ipoh, the third largest town in Malaysia, Chong Sheau Ching attained her bachelor’s degrees in Food Science and Nutrition in Canada and a master’s degree in International Administration in the United States. She spent ten years working in international organizations on community empowerment through health and informal education, poverty alleviation and sustainable development programs.
She returned to Kuala Lumpur for the birth of her daughter in 1994. From her home, she then began to write “stories for My Mother”, a weekly column in Malaysia’s most popular English-language newspaper, The Star, from where she soon gained a large following. More recently, she established projects designed to open up new opportunities for mothers and homemakers. She edited and co-authored “Working @ Home – A Guidebook for Working Women and Homemakers” published in 2000. She also founded the “Mothers for Mothers” network and so continues to maintain her long-standing interest in community empowerment.
Chong Sheau Ching’s family is of Hakka descent (see below) and has been in Malaysia for six generations. The Hakka lineage and Malaysia’s multi-cultural environment have shaped a unique cultural heritage for families like hers. Not only has their food been modified to incorporate spicy local ingredients, but they speak mostly the Hakka dialect (which has n written script) at home, with a smattering of words from bahasa Malaysia (the national language), and may also use a mix of Cantonese, Mandarin and English.
(Hakkas are a unique ethnic group of ‘Han’ Chinese originally active around the Yellow River area. They are renowned for their early and extensive migration to all corners of the world, as well as for their determination and strength to survive under the most adverse conditions in their new homes. Hakka women were revered for laboring alongside the men folk while at the same time nurturing their children and taking care of the house. As a result, Hakka women were never afforded the luxury of bound ‘lotus feet’, but were known for their big, flat feet. An old saying urged men to marry Hakka women for they worked very hard without complaint!