MALACCA: Centenarian Leong Swee Yong, touted as the oldest woman in the country, says her most cherished memory is living in harmony with friends of all races.
The 109-year-old said back in the pre-Merdeka days, people had a generous regard for each other.
“All of us accepted each other as one. Sadly these days that spirit has vanished. But it’s not too late to save the situation,” she said in an interview at the Home Ministry complex in Ayer Keroh yesterday.
Earlier, the wheelchair-bound Leong received her new MyKad from Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi during the ministry’s open day celebrations. Leong was accompanied by her nine children who came to give moral support.
According to an official, Leong had been granted Malaysian citizenship long ago, but had lost her MyKad. Dr Ahmad Zahid extended his best wishes to Leong who was an invited guest of the National Registration Department (NRD), which wanted to honour her as the oldest person in Malacca.
Foo Lia Siu, 60, said despite her frailties, Leong was overjoyed to get her new MyKad.
Former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Ali Rustam had helped with the effort.
“My mother took good care of us despite having many children and she sent us all to school,” she said.
Foo said her mother arrived in Tanjung Kling here in 1907 as a child from China’s Hainan province, adding that she eked out a living selling household products.
She said Leong’s secret to longevity was “doing good deeds to those in need”.
When contacted, Ali Rustam said he was glad to help Leong.
“We must never forget those who have contributed to our country.”
Many who attended the event snapped selfies with Leong.
The department also presented the matriarch with framed photographs of herself-STAR