May 6, 2017

Sibu Tales : Arranged Marriages


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My happy adopted cousin, Tiong Yew Ping

My paternal grandfather was a wealthy rubber smallholder and later land owner. In his life he was able to "buy" a number of girls who were brought to him by the impoverished Foochow fathers who had to sell their daughters because they did not have enough .

Yew Ping came into my mother's life when my mother married into the family in 1948. Yew Ping was placed under my second uncle's name as "daughter" and hence her name even carries our generation name of "Yew". This was because my mother did not want an adopted daughter even before she had her own children, as she told us.

Yew Ping stayed with my mother for a while so that she could be a helper to our elderly great grand mother. My mother also needed someone to help her with the birth of her first child, that was myself.

When I was about 3 years old and Yew Ping was of marraigeable age, my grandfather arranged for her to help my second uncle who was running a rice mill. This was to give her a better outlook in life and perhaps to meet a man of her own choice.

However as she was too shy to acknowledge any one she liked, my grandfather played match maker.

Her marriage was arranged by my Grandfather who found a reasonable man. Grand father actually thought that his parents were really good people. Marrying into a good family was all that mattered. And indeed he was right!!

Her parents in law treated her very well.

Years later, her children, all God fearing also do well. Today they are leaders in their local Methodist Churches and my cousin is as happy as can be.

We are glad that her arranged marriage is not like so many other arranged marriages that we often hear about.


In one case, a relative who was not so pretty was forced to marry an elderly widower. After she suffered from some amount of abuses her husband suddenly died, the young widow was stuck with the old mother in law. She was unable to remarry because her mother in law refused to let go of such a good "slave". The poor lady was only able to enjoy some relief after many decades when her only son was able to earn a decent living and her mother in law passed away. By then my relative was already overworked and exhausted.

I am glad to note that another arranged marriage of an adopted sister of my father's resulted a good and loving marriage. Aunt Hiong and Uncle Kiong were loving and together they built up a good welding business. Today they have a son who is a doctor and a daughter who is a teacher.

Not all arranged marriages in the past were bad.


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