A triumphant Aik Mong after beating Indonesia's Iie Sumirat at 1972 World Invitation Championship

By Sylvia Ng

I first got to know ”Ah Mong”, as he was always referred to that way, during our first MSSM (Majlis Sukan Sekolah-Sekolah Malaysia or Malaysian Schools Sports Council) training camp in the late 1960s at the Specialists’ Teachers Training Institute (STTI) in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. Our first trip abroad together was to Tokyo for the Asian Schools Championships in 1968.

During our badminton playing years, we remained good friends. Although we got together during centralized training, we hardly had time for socials or fun time because we were so focused on our own training regime.

I had nicknamed him ”Giant” because he was a huge guy with a loud voice and laughter. He didn’t need a loud speaker.

Tan Aik Mong (left) with Rosalind Singa Ang & Sylvia (right).

In recent times after he had retired from his career in the corporate world, he would call me up whenever time permitted for lunch or a cup of coffee. And he always jokingly referred to me as his “girlfriend”.

During the annual Chinese New Year gatherings organised by fellow badminton player Albert Goh Teong Hoe in Kuala Lumpur, “Giant Mong” would ring me up to offer me a ride in a chauffeure-driven car to the restaurant and send me back to my apartment. He was such a kind soul as he said my safety was a priority. He would always say aloud, ”What are friends for?”

Tan Aik Mong, a few months before his death

“Ah Mong” certainly held a special view of the recent MCO (Movement Control Order) imposed after the Covid-19 pandemic. He asked me what was the lesson or takeaway in the more than eight weeks of partial lockdown. He was of the view that it was like being a mother, especially before the 1970s, when many women didn’t work outside but focused on the home for most of their lives after they got married.

Women then, he said in a WhatsApp message to me on May 13 this year, were cleaners, baby-sitters, cooks, social workers and companions in the house. But he had one proviso to his statement – “Although it does not apply to all wives but generally to all good mothers who dedicated their lives towards family needs and (upheld) the importance of (showing) loving kindness and responsibilities.”

“The lesson learnt (during the MCO) was what was it like to stay home most of the time. We (only) did it for eight weeks (or so) and almost all of us were crying out as if it was so terrible while mothers of the past looked upon it as an honour to be home and be responsible.”

That’s “Ah Mong” for you.

He will definitely be dearly missed by all of us who knew him. Let peace be with you, my dear friend.

 

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