Book Review: Phoenix Rising, Pioneering Chinese Women of Malaysia by Dr. Ho Tak Ming

This 5th book by Dr. Ho Tak Ming, a family physician practising in Ipoh, Malaysia, is a compilation of inspirational true stories about a dozen women who came from China to Malaya to seek a better life.

Starting off the book is a story of Kwok Soo Kha, Dr. Ho’s very own paternal great-grandmother, who took the big step of sailing to Malaya from Guangdong, China with her two children in 1892, upon her husband’s death.

book review
book cover: Phoenix Rising, Pioneering Chinese Women of Malaysia by Dr. Ho Tak Ming

While a number of Chinese women had already come to work in Malaya before her, unlike them Kwok Soo Kha came voluntarily in search of greener pastures. She was only 31 years old at the time and it definitely wasn’t easy as a widow with two young children.

However, from starting her new life in Taiping, Malaya as a domestic helper for a British household, in a short span of 25 years, Kwok Soo Kha amassed great wealth that her estate, which was inherited by her son, included rows of shop houses and rubber plantations. How did she achieve that?

Also featured in the book is Dr. Ho’s maternal grandmother, Yau Kuan Kam, who grew up on a farm in Batu Gajah, Perak; Eu Tong Sen’s stepmother Mun Woon Chang; Tan Sri PG Lim; author Han Suyin and Lui How Kwan who served as Matron at Perak Chinese Maternity Hospital for 51 years.

Obviously, these women are but a small number of those whose stories have been meticulously researched by Dr. Ho, both from his weekly visits to the National Archives Malaysia as well as exhaustive interviews with their descendants.

According to Dr. Ho, more writers should document the lives of the women, whose contribution to society was equally important as the men’s. There is a gap in literature that needs to be filled.

These women needn’t be famous people or household names but believing that everyone has a story to tell, Dr. Ho hopes that “Phoenix Rising, Pioneering Chinese Women of Malaysia” will inspire readers.

Phoenix Rising, Pioneering Chinese Women of Malaysia is a compilation of stories of Chinese women who have immigrated to Malaya and forged independent lives different from that in their homeland, China. They have shown courage, resilience and determination in improving their lives.

Like the phoenix, the mythological bird that symbolises the Chinese woman, they are set to soar to greater heights given equal opportunities and just social conditions.

To obtain a copy of Phoenix Rising, Pioneering Chinese Women of Malaysia by Dr. Ho Tak Ming, contact via the information as provided below. Book is priced at RM70 per copy.

Dr Ho’s office: Polikelinik Ho, Fong & Yap Sdn. Bhd.
Add: 41, Jalan Leong Sin Nam, 30300 Ipoh, Perak.
Tel: +605-2418081
Fax: +605-2550186
Clinic hours: Monday – Sunday: 8.30am – 7pm

Publisher: Perak Academy
Add: 71A (First Floor), Jalan Tun Sambanthan, 30000 Ipoh, Perak.
Tel: +605-2413742
Fax: +605+2413742
Office hours: Monday to Friday (except public holidays): 9am to 5pm

Distributor: GB Gerakbudaya Enterprise Sdn. Bhd.
Add: 2, Jalan Bukit 11/2, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel: +603-79578342 (Hunting line)
Fax: +603-79578343
Email: or
Business hours: 9am – 6pm

With love

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