Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Matron Mariah @ Chong Nyet Lin

Nurse Ms Chong Nyet Lin travelled widely with a Malay doctor who was frequently on transfer. It was at Bangsar Hospital that she met her future husband, whom she married when she was 38 years old.

At the time, Dr Che Lah was already married to his first wife, Catherine @ Maimunah and they had four grown up daughters and a young adopted Eurasian son when Dr Che Lah worked at Bangsar Hospital.

Dr Che Lah probably wanted to have his own son. He divorced his first wife after the war (some time in 1948) and remarried to Ms Chong Nyet Lin @ Mariah, in 1952.

She followed him when he worked at the Malayan Railway Health Office. She also followed him to London where he did his postgraduate studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and MRCP at Edinburgh, in 1953-1954.

They returned to Kuantan where he was CM&HO Pahang and the royal doctor to Sultan Sir Abu Bakar. Their son was born in 1955 in Kuantan, Pahang.

Three years later, Dr Che Lah retired and returned to Penang. Sultan Sir Abu Bakar bestowed him a merit award.

In June 1958, Matron Mariah also moved from Kuantan to Penang to follow her husband, Dr Che Lah. Matron Mariah worked at the Maternity Hospital of Penang General Hospital till she retired in 1966. Her nursing uniform changed from initially white to light navy blue to dark green.

Matron Mariah's sister, Chong Chung King (CK Chong), also followed her to Penang. Dr Abdul Wahab's wife (Datin Intan bt Mustapha) said she had always seen this "Chinese lady" (CK Chong) everywhere Mariah went. She did not know that CK Chong was the blood sister of Matron Mariah.
Matron Mariah also had a close Chinese friend name Yap Fah Thye. I met aunty Yap Fah Thye once or twice before I left for California in 1976.  I met her kids when they were still small when aunty Yap lived in Petaling Jaya. I watched her son Paul played outside in the backyard and she called him into the house. I visited her and her children in their Adelaide home. Both her children are doctors - Dr Paul Yap and Dr Pauline Yap.
Dr Che Lah remained with Matron Mariah till he died in 1986 in Penang. Matron Mariah died on Wednesday, 2 October 1996 of chronic liver problems at Seberang Jaya Hospital, near where her son lives.

Dr Che Lah and Matron Mariah were interred next to each other at Kubur Masjid Jamek Gelugor, Penang. Their graves are near the front entrance to the old masjid grounds. The new masjid was under construction, and completed in 2014.


Ms Chong Nyet Lin's family in Kuala Lumpur, 1948
Dr Che Lah with his 2 children and Ms Chong Nyet Lin's family, 1960.

Ms Chong Chung King (CK Chong), blood sister of Ms Chong Nyet Lin @ Matron Mariah
Portrait of 9 November 1947
Matron Mariah (left) and Madam Yap Fah Thye (right)


Dr Che Lah worked at the Malayan Railway Health Office in Kuala Lumpur.
This was his farewell before he left for London to do postgraduate studies.
Dr Che Lah worked at the Q Camp in Port Dickson.
Dr Che Lah worked as CM&HO Pahang 1955-58.