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Homesingapore‘I would want her to not have any regrets’: Taiwanese man looking...

‘I would want her to not have any regrets’: Taiwanese man looking for S’porean ex-SIA stewardess mum

SINGAPORE – Mr Hsu Hu-chin does not remember much about his biological mother, after having been separated from her when he was just a child.

Growing up in Taiwan in the 1980s, the IT engineer did not think much about her. His father and paternal grandparents did not speak of her as well.

“I was always playing with my friends or doing activities by myself,” said Mr Hsu, adding that he did not have a good relationship with his father, stepmother and step-siblings.

But he found out more about his birth mother from his paternal aunt in Japan in 2015, which sparked in him a curiosity about her. It led to a years-long search that eventually led him to contact The Straits Times with the help of his wife, Ms Hung Sih-yun.

“If my mother still worries about me, I just want to tell her that I’ve been living well,” Mr Hsu, now 42, told ST in a video interview on Dec 6.

“She would be 60 or 70 now – if she’s still alive, I would want her to not have any regrets before she passes.”

Mr Hsu hopes he can get more leads about her through telling his story, after running into dead ends previously.

“I will go to Singapore to see my mother, and will ask her how she spent those years after she left,” he said.

“Did she miss me or not? I will tell her everything that happened during these years.”

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What little Mr Hsu now knows of his mother was pieced together from bits of information he learnt from his aunt, as well as photos that he found among his late father’s belongings.

According to Mr Hsu, his mother, whose Mandarin name can be transliterated as Wang Wen Lian, was once a stewardess with Singapore Airlines (SIA).

Photos provided to ST show Ms Wang in SIA’s iconic sarong kebaya. Text on the back of one of the photos indicates it was taken in Washington, DC around May 1980.

Mr Hsu wrote to the airline when he first found the photos in 2018, but said it declined to release personal information of its former employees.

When ST contacted SIA for comment, the airline maintained its stance, citing the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

The PDPA protects consumers’ personal data from being collected, used and shared without their consent. Organisations may do so only if required by law, or allowed under the PDPA, or to precisely verify an individual’s identity “to a high degree of fidelity”.

In another photo provided to ST, Ms Wang is seen in a red-and-black sleeveless cheongsam, embracing Mr Hsu’s father, who is sporting a grey suit.

According to Mr Hsu’s aunt, Ms Wang had met Mr Hsu’s father on a flight in the 1970s while travelling to the Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions in Switzerland.

Mr Hsu is unclear about details of his parents’ courtship, but he knows that his mother became pregnant while they were on their honeymoon trip. His mother then moved to Taiwan, and gave birth to him in 1981.

At the time, Mr Hsu’s late father, Mr Hsu Yun-Tong, had started a company selling his inventions, which included an auto door hinge and a gear shift lock.

However, his business did not take off, and he had to serve a three-year jail term after falling behind on his payment to creditors, said Mr Hsu.

According to the younger Mr Hsu’s aunt, while his father was in jail, friction began to develop between Ms Wang and her in-laws, who lived with her at the time. It culminated in a major disagreement, and led to Ms Wang moving back to Singapore.

Mr Hsu’s father knew about this only after he was released from jail. He tried to contact Ms Wang to ask her to move back to Taiwan, but could not locate her. Their divorce then became official after a judicial ruling was passed.

While Ms Wang was in Singapore, she had written many letters to Mr Hsu, which he never received.

He learnt this from his aunt, who revealed that his grandparents had thrown away the letters, and had reportedly tried to restrict Ms Wang’s entry into Taiwan when she first moved there.

The only letter that Mr Hsu had was passed to him by his stepmother some time in 1995, for reasons she did not disclose.

He could not understand the letter at the time, and only learnt via a translator that his birth mother had described how much she loved him in the letter, and that she had also included her Singapore address. He told ST that he was too young to understand the weight of the subject at the time and did not think much about it.

The letter was eventually lost, as his family moved several times when his father was trying to avoid creditors.

He never got more details from his grandparents, as they died more than 20 years ago, and did not stay in contact with his stepmother and step-siblings, as they are not close.

In 2016, Mr Hsu’s father suffered a stroke, and he died in 2018. While sorting through his father’s belongings following his death, Mr Hsu discovered his mother’s photos, leading to his first search. But he gave up after failing to find any leads from SIA and on social media.

Earlier in 2023, Mr Hsu saw the photos of Ms Wang again while moving house with Ms Hung. Encouraged by his wife, he decided to try locating his mother again.

“My aunt used to say that my eyes looked like my mother’s, and I felt the same when I saw the photo,” Mr Hsu told ST.

“I wonder how she is doing, or if she is a teacher or something.”

He said: “If she’s still alive, I’d like to tell her not to worry and live out the rest of her years well.”

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