updated 16 Apr 2014, 12:51
Login password
Mon, Apr 07, 2014
The Straits Times
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Malaysian woman chasing US dream
by Esther Teo, Joyce Lim

Miss Chng Meiling (above), 33, was well on the way to achieving her American dream, but did not forget her family back home in Malaysia.

After graduating with an engineering degree from Petronas University of Technology a decade ago, she was hired as a chemical process engineer by Eastman Chemical, a subsidiary of Flexsys America in Monongahela, near Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. She moved there five years ago.

Her mother, 57-year-old Ooi Ah Cheng, said her daughter - who never had a boyfriend - would phone her daily.

"My daughter is very filial," Madam Ooi, a housewife, told The Straits Times in a phone interview from her Sungai Petani home. "She called me every day. Sometimes we would chat up to an hour. She showered me with gifts whenever she came home. Once she bought me a Louis Vuitton handbag and my friends were all so envious."

In February, Ms Chng was in Kuantan, Malaysia, for a business trip. A week before she was to fly back to the US via Beijing - aboard Flight MH370 - she met up with her mum and one of her four siblings in Kuala Lumpur. Ms Chng paid for the two-day trip, with a five-star hotel stay.

Her mother said: "She took me for holidays to France, Spain and Holland. She told me the next time she came to Kuantan for business, she wanted to take me to the United States with her."

Last October, Miss Chng bought a house in Pittsburgh. Her dream was to get a green card to live permanently in the US.

As a youngster, she believed the way to get out of poverty was to study hard. Her parents never had to worry about her education fees as she always managed to get subsidies or scholarships.

In the US, life was good. Work required her to shuttle from there to Malaysia three to four times a year, by first class. The March8 flight was the first time her employer had booked her a first- class seat on Malaysia Airlines.

Ironically, her parents were travelling to Beijing on holiday. Their flight arrived just hours before Flight MH370 was scheduled to land at 6.05am.

Madam Ooi said: "The tour guide told us a plane from Malaysia had not arrived and I wondered if it was the same plane as my daughter. But the guide later said it was diverted to Nanning... It was only in the afternoon that we learnt it had vanished."

She added tearfully: "My daughter would call me every time just before boarding a plane and when it touched down. This time, she called my eldest daughter and said to tell 'Mama not to worry' about her. She said she would call me when she reached Beijing. The call never came."


<< Back >> Next



readers' comments

Copyright © 2014 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.