A Father’s Day Special: Sha’arin Razali Wong and Mr Wong Phui Nam
On being a father, and a son.
Malaysian film producer, Sha'arin Razali Wong, at 48, and retired-economist turn poet, Mr. Wong Phui Nam, at 81, are both still looking so good -- for their ages respectively. A father-son relationship differs vastly from a mother-daughter, or even a father-daughter relationship. How a father is a reference for the boy, a role model, Sha’arin and Mr Wong tell us more about it.
ESQUIRE: Where did you learn most of your values from?
WONG PHUI NAM: Partly from my elder siblings, especially my fourth brother (Joseph). I used to have a lot of conversations with him about religion. Besides that, I learnt a lot from my teachers in schools. There was an incident, when I was in standard two; one of the boys had a big collection of stamps. During recess, he left them on his desk and we all took the stamps ourselves. When the teacher came in, the boy reported and complaint to the teacher that his stamps were missing. The teacher asked the boys, who took the stamps? A few stood up and return the stamps, and they got slapped. During those days, teachers were fierce, and I was so frightened. I think that thought me a lesson -- to be honest. That remained in my head for a long time.
SHA’ARIN RAZALI WONG: My dad never really lectured my brother and I or anything. But we learn from the examples that he sets. How to live life and how to become a good human being, we learned through conversations and examples. I'm just hoping that I can be an example to my children through the same way, by being an example. That’s because children absorb more by what they see, and they follow what their parents do. When you tell them, they probably won't listen…
ESQ: What earliest memories do you have of your dad?
SRW: When I was in Penang, when he used to send me to school and kindergarten, we had a lot of good memories, just taking us out in the cars and going to the movies.
ESQ: Is there something that you wished your dad taught you, but didn’t?
SRW: I wished he taught us how to speak Mandarin. But I think apart from that, nothing else, really.
ESQ: What were some of the hardest moments of being a father and why was it hard?
WPN: I think it was okay until Sha’arin became a teenager. I think most teenagers give problems to their parents. The hardest thing was when Sha’arin joined the band. Sometimes we don't see him at all, sometimes a couple of days, and we have to go around looking for him.
ESQ: Is there something that you have learnt from your child?
WPN: I was a very timid child. That’s because both of my parents died at a young age, and I had a very strict step-mother. So I became quite timid and insecure. But I think as part of growing up, when you start having a family to look after, when your family accompanies you, things don’t turn out to be so bad.
SRW: I won’t consider my dad as timid, I would say… an introvert. He likes to stay at home, read his book, and listen to his classical music.
ESQ: Were you ever scared to be a parent?
SRW: Nope. I was looking forward to it!
WPN: It's quite different from my childhood. In my days, parents were very ready to punish their kids, and sometimes I thought to myself, “When am I going to get the next canning?” It is quite different now; parents are buddies with their kids.
Sha'arin wears a Longines Master Collection (model L26734783) and Mr Wong wears a Longines Conquest classic (model L27854766)