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议员母女心连心 把爱说出来

12 May 2019

Lianhe Zaobao, 12 May 2019, Professor Lim Sun Sun: My mum sewed all our clothes and our wedding gowns too (translation)
 
In Professor Lim Sun Sun’s memory, her family had never had to spend any money on clothing. Her mother Mdm Chew Geok Toy sewed all the clothes for her brother, two sisters and herself, and would later sew the three girls’ wedding gowns too.

Until today, the sewing machine at home continues working as 78-year-old Mdm Chew still sews for herself and her family.
 
Prof Lim, 46, is the baby of the family and explained during her interview that her mother attended sewing classes in her late teens. After marriage, she tailored clothes for neighbours and acquaintances to help supplement the family income.
 
Prof Lim recalls that in her childhood, neighbours would come to their home in Bedok bearing pieces of fabric, requesting that her mother tailor all kinds of garments. When they returned a second time to try on the finished product, they would always leave beaming with joy. 
 
“From one piece of fabric, she was able to make clothing of different designs for my brother, sisters and me. When I was little I would accompany her to the market and people would admire what I wore. My mother never wasted any fabric, and she would use the scraps to make handkerchiefs, or as decorative trimmings for our shirts and dresses. I often muse that if my mother had had the benefit of education, she would be a very successful engineer today. Her inherent understanding of materials and geometry is very strong and her measurements are very precise.”
 
Learnt English to communicate with her English daughter-in-law
 
Prof Lim greatly admires her mother’s creativity and enthusiasm for learning. When her mother was learning the Buddhist scripture, she would actively check the dictionary and was largely self-taught. She is also active in the community garden engaging in all kinds of horticultural activities.
 
When she was in her 60s, Mdm Chew picked up swimming and even sewed her own swimsuit. In order to better communicate with her English daughter-in-law, she learnt basic English from her daughters.
 
Says Prof Lim, “My mother’s learning ability is really strong. It’s a pity that many like her in her generation didn’t have comprehensive education. But my generation has reaped the benefits of education and enjoyed a better quality of life. I think that’s what motivates me to teach and research to advance discourse and better our society.”
 
Prof Lim is head of humanities, arts and social sciences at the Singapore University of Technology and Design and was appointed Nominated Member of Parliament last year. Mdm Chew candidly revealed that she was not fully in favour of Prof Lim taking on this position. She admitted to being somewhat conservative, believing that parents should put their children first, and was concerned that if Prof Lim took on too many responsibilities that her energies would be divided.
 
No matter how busy they are, Prof Lim and her husband and two secondary school going children will have dinner at Mdm Chew’s several times a week.
 
As to how they would celebrate Mother’s Day, Prof Lim said she would give her mother a hongbao and perhaps bake her a cake because her mother did not approve of lavish celebrations. Pipped Mdm Chew: “Why should the whole family troop to the restaurant to queue up for dinner on Mother’s Day? As long as my children are loving and caring, that is sufficient.”
 
Prof Lim laughed in response and quipped: “As we always say at home, it’s very difficult to earn my mother’s money. She has never approved of us having Chinese New Year reunion dinner in a restaurant. She has always been thrifty and this is a quality I have sought to instil in my children.”