Malaysian teen quits school to care for sick parents

Malaysian teen quits school to care for sick parents
Concerned minister: Chew (seated on floor) chatting with (from left) Lay Ching, Tan and Ang at their flat in Taman Sahabat, Gertak Sanggul. With them are (from right) Oh, Penang MCA secretary Dr Tan Chuan Hong and Balik Pulau MCA chairman Chuah Tee Sung.

BALIK PULAU - When Ang Lip Poh was diagnosed with lung cancer about two years ago, his teenage daughter immediately quit school to look after him as his wife too was unwell.

Ang Lay Ching was then four months into Form One when she dropped out on April 11, 2013.

"Although I miss school, I do what I can for my parents," said the bashful girl.

Besides taking care of her father, Lay Ching, now 15, also looks after her mother Tan Poh Gaik, 55, who has been suffering from depression for about 30 years.

"How I wish Lay Ching could go to school like all the other children. I feel very inadequate as a father as she has to give up her future to look after us," said Ang, 59, when met at their Taman Sahabat flat in Gertak Sanggul yesterday.

The former plumber was forced to stop work this year as he suffers from shortness of breath and also needs to go for chemotherapy.

The couple have an older daughter who is married and living in Terengganu.

The family's plight has touched many, including Deputy Women, Family and Community Develop­ment Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, who visited them yesterday.

Chew said she would try to apply for a monthly welfare aid of RM200 (S$74.60) each for Ang and Tan, and RM100 for Lay Ching.

MCA, she added, would help to raise some RM20,000 to settle the family's housing and car loans.

"We want to help Lay Ching go back to school. With education, she can have a future as well as provide better for her parents," she said.

Lay Ching said she hoped to return to school after Chinese New Year.

Meanwhile, Chew said the family was an example of hardcore poverty, which still existed in the state.

"Of late, I visit Penang quite often and I've come across similar cases. This means Penang has many people who are in need of help," she said.

Penang Gerakan brought foodstuff for the family. Its secretary Oh Tong Keong believed this case was just the tip of the iceberg and there could be more people in a similar predicament.

"I hope the state will set up a task force to help the needy," he said.

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