Chinese man raises three Malay boys as own sons


Pride and joy: Tong (second from right) wearing matching baju Melayu with his adopted sons (from left) Rasyid, Rafie and Abdul Rahman.

PETALING JAYA: When Michael Tong Wai Siong was 39, he never expected to become a father figure to three Malay boys and have his life transformed by their presence.

“I’ve never been married ... Suddenly I had to take care of three children who weren’t mine.

“However, I felt this was a task given to me by God and I had to accept the challenge,” said Tong, now 55.

About 16 years ago, the event manager visited an orphanage in Gombak, Selangor, where he noticed a young boy sitting alone.

That boy was Rafie Ahmad Fauzi, now a 29-year-old entrepreneur.

“He was just sitting alone, avoiding everyone. I learnt from a caretaker named Umi that Rafie refused to go to school,” Tong recalled.

“After visiting Rafie at school and meeting with his teachers, I discovered he had learning difficulties. So I enrolled him at a tuition centre.”

Rafie began to show improvement and interest in learning.

One day, while visiting the orphanage, Tong found a note written by Rafie that questioned why he had lost his parents so early in his life and why he was separated from his two younger brothers.

“It tugged at my heart. Umi suggested it would be better if I adopted Rafie and had him stay with me, as he only listened to me. So I did,” Tong said.

After locating Rafie’s brothers, Rasyid and Abdul Rahman, now aged 28 and 24, in an orphanage in Klang, Selangor, Tong decided to bring them to live with him in Bandar Sri Damansara.

“My mum was concerned. Why would her second child, who is unmarried, decide to adopt these boys?

“While she was supportive, she did advise me that it wouldn’t be easy. But she promised to stand by me all the way.

“The boys are very respectful towards the elderly, so having them in our family is not awkward at all,” Tong said, adding that they call his mother “popo” (Mandarin for grandmother).

To ensure the boys continued receiving Islamic teachings, Tong sought advice from his Malay-Muslim friends.

“During Ramadan, I would fast with them.

“When they were younger, waking up for sahur (pre-dawn meal) was hard. I remember spraying water on them to wake them up,” he said.

For Hari Raya, Tong would take the boys to his Malay-Muslim friend’s house in Selayang, where they prayed together.“We even celebrate Chinese New Year together. Every year during the reunion dinner, my sons would join us,” he said.

Despite raising the boys alone with support from family and friends, Tong never intended to replace their biological father.

“I’m not Ahmad Fauzi; I’m still ‘Uncle Mike’.

“I did it sincerely to ensure that the boys grow up to be valuable members of the community,” he added.

Though he has not found a life partner, Tong said the “three Rs” were God-sent and he never regretted taking them into his life.

“Rafie is now married with two children. I’m a grandfather now and will never be lonely.

“All of them have their own lives and businesses and I’m proud of them,” said Tong.

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