Samaritan ‘happy to see others happy’

Pang-Chua

When photographer Annette Wong came down with a stomach ache in the middle of the night three years ago, the first person she thought of calling was her neighbour, Mrs Pang-Chua Soon Hong.

“I could have called my sister-in- law who lives nearby, but Soon Hong was the person I felt comfortable with,” said Madam Wong, 45, whose husband was out of town at the time.

Mrs Pang-Chua took her to a hospital in a taxi and stayed with her while she was being treated.

To outsiders, Mrs Pang-Chua may seem an ordinary housewife who cooks for her two children and cares for her elderly father-in-law.

But to her neighbours, the 53-year-old is nothing short of a Samaritan – babysitting their children, accompanying them to the hospital and collecting used books and clothes for the needy.

“I don’t have to think about it,” said the Woodlands Block 538 resident in Mandarin, shrugging. “We all live so close together, why not help one another?”

And she seems to have stuck by this simple philosophy since moving into her ninth-storey four- room flat 16 years ago, where she lives with her husband, teenage son and daughter, and 81-year-old father-in-law.

Madam Wong, who used to live on the fifth floor of the block but moved to Kuala Lumpur with her husband and 12-year-old daughter 21/2 years ago, also recalls an episode when her washing machine broke down. Mrs Pang-Chua volunteered to do her laundry for a few days until she bought a new washing machine.

“She’s a very big-hearted woman,” said Madam Wong. “She has no qualms about helping people even if it inconveniences her.”

Mrs Pang-Chua, a devout Christian who is married to a 58-year-old pastor, said her religion has played a part in shaping her ethos.

“They always preach about helping people without expecting anything in return. It gives me a huge reminder and I’m happy to see other people happy,” said the former church worker who quit to be a housewife in 2003.

Madam Roselinda Garcia, a Filipino permanent resident who lives on the 10th floor with her Singaporean husband and two teenage daughters, is also thankful for Mrs Pang- Chua’s charitable spirit.

About twice a year, Madam Garcia ships groceries and second- hand clothes and books back to her village in the Philippines, where her mother would distribute them to needy families.

“(Soon Hong) helps me to collect these used items from her church and other neighbours,” said the 45-year-old housewife.

And this habit of sharing does not stop there. “I still have a big box of books from her. She also invites cleaners up to see what they want,” said housewife Roselyn Lim, 41, who lives on the 11th floor.

“She will always share any extra food like pandan cake and pineapple tarts. She’s a consistent giver.”

Excerpt taken from The Sunday Times, June 22, 2014

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