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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Saturday, 04 July 2015 14:47

Fulfilling Chua Chee Ling’s Last Wish

Written by  Tsze Hut Sea, Kota Tinggi / Translated by Lee Ren Hui

On July 4, Hwang Peng Yeow (right) brought his wife’s photo and attended the sutra adaptation with his mother, Lee Ah Eng, and two daughters, thereby fulfilling Chua Chee Ling’s last wish. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]

“Mum, I have finally fulfilled your last wish! I did it,” said an emotional 13-year-old Hwang Yin Ni as she stood on stage and cried out to her late mum, Chua Chee Ling. She also dedicated the merits accrued to her mum, hoping that she could be reborn as a Tzu Chi person again.


 
Hwang Yin Ni, a secondary school student at Foon Yew High School, Johor Bahru, had initially planned to quit the sutra adaptation performance in April due to her heavy school work. Her mum, Chua Chee Ling, a cancer patient, then told her, “Yin Ni, you must seize this opportunity to learn the sutra. Mummy has no chance, but at least you can perform on my behalf.” 
 
Yin Ni is a sensible and well-behaved child. After school, she would help with household chores and take good care of her ill mother. The latter eventually succumbed to cancer at Hospital Penawar Pandan City. In order to fulfil her mother’s last wish, Yin Ni decided to overcome all difficulties to continue with the sutra adaptation.
 
Invited family and friends to learn the sutra
 
After the successful staging of Dharma as Water sutra adaptation in Taiwan in 2011, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor received Master Cheng Yen’s blessings to stage a similar performance on four stage platforms at Stadium Putra, Bukit Jalil, on July 4 & 5, 2015. The aim was to lead the public to repent by taking the Dharma to heart and putting it into practice. At the same time, volunteers from various locations would also be invited to partake.
 
The late Chee Ling and her husband, Hwang Peng Yeow, seized this opportunity to join the Ulu Tiram’s team. Despite her aching leg, she still travelled with other volunteers to KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall on October 22, 2014, for a large-scale sutra study meant for group leaders.
 
After learning that the sutra would help cleanse one’s mind and past negative karma, as well as, establish affinities with tens of thousands of people, Chee Ling and Peng Yeow immediately invited Chee Ling’s sister, Chua Yen Sim, a Buddhist, to join in. But the latter rejected their invitation as she preferred to practise alone. Chee Ling was undeterred and persisted in persuading her sister to learn the sutra and walk the Bodhisattva Path.
 
Yen Sim finally agreed to join. She said, “My sister was very sick, yet she insisted on participating. I was deeply touched.” She also invited her grandmother, daughter and nephew to join so the family had seven members participating.
 
Peng Yeow, who was in-charge of the sutra interpretation in the community, actively shared the meaning of the sutra verses, as well as, called on more people to participate in the performance, observe a vegetarian fast, cleanse their mental defilements, and cultivate virtuous thoughts to promote social harmony. After joining the sutra adaptation, the couple decided to become vegetarians.
 
Heart and mind committed to the performance
 
On December 3, 2014, Chee Ling’s health suddenly deteriorated and she lapsed into a coma. At the hospital, she was diagnosed with relapse of her cancer and bone metastasis, which resulted in calcium and vision loss.
 
Volunteers rushed to the hospital to visit and take turns to accompany her. They also called on community volunteers in Ulu Tiram and Kota Tinggi to sent out WhatsApp messages to online group volunteers and community centres, to pray for Chee Ling’s speedy recovery.
 
A strong-willed Chee Ling finally regained consciousness, and when her condition stabilized two weeks later, she was discharged from hospital to recuperate at home. But, her condition continued to deteriorate, requiring her to be re-admitted to hospital several times. While in hospital, volunteers were always there to accompany her. When they presented her with a picture of Master Cheng Yen as a form of blessing, she was moved to tears and vowed to visit the Master in Taiwan upon recovery.
 
“Are you joining the sutra adaptation? You must seize the opportunity!” Even in her sick bed, her heart was still obsessed about the performance. She invited volunteers who visited her to partake, and even advised them to be pious and be vegetarians. At the same time, she also tried to inspire friends to become Tzu Chi donating members by introducing Tzu Chi to them.
 
Chee Ling sincerely wanted to join the sutra adaptation but could not due to her unstable condition. Her husband bought her the performing uniform to motivate her, hoping that she would recover soon and join him on stage. Besides his work and sign language practice, Peng Yeow had to get up at night often to take care of his wife. Although exhausted, he remained dedicated in fighting cancer with his wife.
 
Peng Yeow said, “I am very thankful to all brothers and sisters for accompanying and encouraging me all this while. To have the opportunity to join Tzu Chi is the greatest blessing of my life.” He was very grateful for the volunteers’ support and friendship during the tough time, as they have given him the strength to endure. From his wife’s illness, he had witnessed the Law of Karma at play, hence the importance of repentance, vigilance and reflection upon oneself always.
 
Last wish 
 
Although cancer had spread throughout her body and she could no longer perform, Chee Ling still wanted to watch the performance by controlling her pain and sitting down. She said, “If I cannot sit still for 30 minutes, how can I sit for three hours to watch the performance?”
 
Seeing his wife’s perseverance, and in order to help her achieve her dream, Peng Yeow booked a hotel room for her to rest at her convenience when attending the performance. Unfortunately, on June 7, Chee Ling’s condition worsened with her body’s immune system and internal organs slowly shutting down. 
 
Peng Yeow admitted, “I never thought of quitting, but in order to take care of my wife, I could not make it for the group practice. Although I usually practised at home, I cannot afford to affect the team performance due to personal issues.” As the premiere was approaching, volunteers intensified their practice and training; and Peng Yeow eventually opted out to dedicate himself to care for his critically ill wife.
 
Illness and death is a natural law of life. At 3 am on June 21, 2015, Chee Ling passed away peacefully in hospital at the age of 44. After hearing the news, volunteers immediately prayed and chanted for her for nine hours, sincerely hoping that she could rest in peace. At the funeral, more than 40 volunteers under the guidance of Venerable Kai Yuan recited the Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance Text for her at Kulai Guan Yin Tang.
 
“Even when she was sick, she still encouraged family and volunteers to learn the sutra. This spirit of not giving up is worth learning,” shared Chong Lih Jiun, who accompanied Chee Ling’s family for a long time. Realizing the impermanence of life, she treasures every minute of her life and keeps reminding herself to be firm on the Bodhisattva Path. She said, “Life is unpredictable. Only when we seize the moment and do what should be done, we will have no regrets.”
 
One of the group leaders, Lau Sock Hong, greatly admired Chee Ling’s strong willpower. She lamented, “No matter what difficulties, we should not give up; and since Chee Ling had a last wish, we must help her daughter to give her best performance on stage.”
 
Dedicated on the path of Buddhism
 
Both Chee Ling and Peng Yeow came from Kedah and were graduands from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. In 1998, they tied the knot and settled down in Ulu Tiram, Johor. Peng Yeow is a Civil Engineer in Singapore, while Chee Ling was a Mechanical Engineer in a technological company for 17 years. They have four children.
 
In November 2011, her colleague, Lim Hwee Soon invited Chee Ling to join Tzu Chi, but she rejected as she was heavily committed to her work and family. Nonetheless, she was willing to assist Hwee Soon in recruiting more donating members. A grateful Hwee Soon said, “As long as there was a charity sale or fundraising, Chee Ling would definitely offer a hand.”
 
On November 8, 2013, Chee Ling noticed a lump in her breast, and was later diagnosed with breast cancer. She then resigned to undergo treatment calmly and bravely. She also opted for macrobiotic diet as natural therapies and even changed her lifestyle. Although the disease was under control, she lost a lot of weight.
 
From the sickness, Chee Ling realized that “one does not have the ownership of one’s life, only the privilege of using it”. She then decided to grasp every minute to do good deeds for the benefit of others. In early 2014, Hwee Soon introduced courses for Tzu Chi Teenagers to Chee Ling, who then enrolled her eldest daughter in Tzu Chi’s humanities education.
 
In March 2014, the couple became Tzu Chi volunteers, and were actively involved in Tzu Chi’s activities, be it environmental protection, home visits or educational activities. Chee Ling also guided her family to join Master Cheng Yen’s Dharma lecture on Lotus Sutra at 5 am each morning at the community centre, so that they could cultivate wisdom together.
 
“Chee Ling was a diligent volunteer, not only responsible but also kind-hearted. As long as she was able to do something, she would help others,” volunteer Pang Mei Hua recalled. Due to a shortage of manpower, the couple even took charge of the sound control for last year’s Greatness of Parental Love sutra adaptation. Although inexperienced, they learnt conscientiously to ensure a smooth and successful performance.
 
 
“I hope she can be reborn into a healthy body and join Tzu Chi again,” Peng Yeow shared that his wife did not want to go to the Buddhist Pure Land, but would instead return life after life and walk the Bodhisattva Path.
 
Although Chee Ling was not there for the actual performance, her whole family had participated thanks to her. On July 4, Peng Yeow brought his wife’s photo and attended the sutra adaptation with his mother, Lee Ah Eng, and two daughters, thereby fulfilling Chee Ling’s last wish.
 
 
Hwang Yin Ni overcame all difficulties to fulfil her mother’s last wish of performing on stage. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]   At the end of the performance, Hwang Yin Ni shared with the audience her thoughts on fulfilling her mother’s last wish. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

Hwang Yin Ni overcame all difficulties to fulfil her mother’s last wish of performing on stage. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]
 
At the end of the performance, Hwang Yin Ni shared with the audience her thoughts on fulfilling her mother’s last wish. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
Both Chua Chee Ling and Hwang Peng Yeow had actively participated in Tzu Chi’s activities. Photo shows them visiting a Tamil primary school during Deepavali distribution to conduct interviews. [Photograph by Li Zhong Cheng]   On December 4, 2014, Tzu Chi volunteers rushed to the hospital to visit and pray for Chua Chee Ling. [Photograph by Chong Lih Jiun]

Both Chua Chee Ling and Hwang Peng Yeow had actively participated in Tzu Chi’s activities. Photo shows them visiting a Tamil primary school during Deepavali distribution to conduct interviews. [Photograph by Li Zhong Cheng]
 
 
On December 4, 2014, Tzu Chi volunteers rushed to the hospital to visit and pray for Chua Chee Ling. [Photograph by Chong Lih Jiun]
 
During the funeral, more than 40 volunteers under the guidance of Venerable Kai Yuan recited the “Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance Text” for Chua Chee Ling at Kulai Guan Yin Tang. [Photograph by Tsze Hut Sea]   After Chua Chee Ling’s demise, her husband Hwang Peng Yeow (at the back) brought along two daughters (1st and 2nd right in front) and his mother (middle in 2nd row) to participate in the sutra adaptation rehearsal. [Photograph by Chong Lih Jiun]

During the funeral, more than 40 volunteers under the guidance of Venerable Kai Yuan recited the “Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance Text” for Chua Chee Ling at Kulai Guan Yin Tang. [Photograph by Tsze Hut Sea]
 
 
After Chua Chee Ling’s demise, her husband Hwang Peng Yeow (at the back) brought along two daughters (1st and 2nd right in front) and his mother (middle in 2nd row) to participate in the sutra adaptation rehearsal. [Photograph by Chong Lih Jiun]