大馬的過埠新娘

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1990 / 3月

文‧劉麗真 圖‧黃麗梨


鄭心梅高中就認識陳德業了。等鄭心梅念完大學,雙方正式論及婚嫁。鄭家二老覺得陳德業老實、人品又好,唯一的「缺點」是家住馬來西亞,到時寶貝女兒如果真嫁過去,豈不是要「兩地相思」嗎?

 

為此,鄭心梅幾度和陳德業商量:「一起留在台灣行不行?」無奈馬來西亞那邊不斷來信催促,使得陳德業左右為難。

 

不過,愛情的力量終究克服了一切,鄭心梅心想:「既然愛他,就跟他走吧!」


童話故事的結尾總是說:「從此王子和公主過著快樂幸福的日子。」

等鄭心梅到了馬來西亞,她卻發現,婆家對她來說,不僅是另一個國家,簡直就是另一個世界。

陳德業的父親在吉隆坡鄉下擁有一片十二畝的橡膠園,住家座落在園中央,從住家走到鄰近的馬路要三個小時。由於沒電,每天晚上六點就得上床睡覺;要用水的話,也得走上半個鐘頭去打井水;上個廁所,「旅途勞頓」不說,還需忍受蚊蟲叮咬之苦。

更慘的是,結完婚沒幾天,陳德業便因工作需要,赴新加坡受訓三個月,留下語言不通的鄭心梅「無語」問蒼天,其寂寞可想而知。

嫁雞隨雞飛

「那時候,最高興的事就是收到台灣的家書」,鄭心梅說,她沒事就到遠在城裡的郵局逛逛,「媽常在信裡鼓勵我,要我善體『主』的安排,只要忍耐、付出,一切苦難都會過去……」

在馬來西亞,像鄭心梅這樣「嫁雞隨雞」的「台灣太太」數以千計,她們大部分都是到台灣念大學的大馬僑生娶回來的。

由於馬來西亞大學對非馬來人實施「配額制」,很多華人即因「名額有限」,不得不出國留學。台灣不論學制、教學內容都和馬來西亞類似,同時學費、生活費又比歐美國家經濟,因此,常被華人列為優先考慮的深造地點。

大概從民國四十幾年開始,馬來西亞便有華裔青年赴台求學。民國六十九年,新加坡的華文南洋大學關閉之後,每年更有約一千名大馬中學畢業生到台灣念書。馬來西亞目前的「留台生」總數超過三萬名,其中與「寶島姑娘」共結連理者不下三千人。

嫁到馬來西亞的台灣女性,多半受過高中或大專教育,所以一般來說,她們不太願意以「家管」為終生職志,而想步入社會,當個「上班族」。

不過,要想出外找工作,必須先取得永久居民的身分。按照規定,台灣太太得在馬來西亞住滿五年才能申請成為永久居民。「可是政策時鬆時緊,有的人嫁到這堣Q年了,還拿不到身分」,鄭心梅說。

再加上馬來西亞是個多元種族社會,方言奇多,特別是在像吉隆坡這樣的大城市裡。「平常說話用英文可以應付,到政府單位辦事非得講馬來話不可,和客戶談事情,最起碼得準備福建話、廣東話、潮州話,才能隨機應變」,于美鈴嫁到馬來西亞十五年,目前是于會計師事務所的負責人。

不承認台灣文憑

出外找工作還有另一個難題就是,馬來西亞政府不承認台灣的大學文憑。這麼一來,造成這些空有學歷的「過埠新娘」不得不走入廚房。

「不承認文憑」的問題,不但困擾著台灣太太,就連「大馬先生」也深以為苦。據說,有個留台生娶了台灣太太回國後,由於在馬來西亞找不到理想的工作,因此遠赴泰國謀職。沒想到,少了他的居中調停,媳婦和婆婆的關係日益惡化,最後太太帶著孩子飛回台灣娘家,可憐他「去與不去間,小生千萬難」。

很多留台生都了解「文憑」問題麻煩重重,因此,只要經濟狀況許可,他們都會想辦法再到學位為馬來西亞所承認的國家如英、美等地深造,陳漱石、許秀華伉儷就是這樣的例子。

他們倆人是中興大學同班同學,畢業後結了婚,然後一起到英國念書。

賦閒在家的博士

一九七六年,倆人先後拿到博士學位,隔年,許秀華從台灣嫁到馬來西亞。

「我先生是獨子,我婆婆又堅持不肯來台灣住」,擁有博士頭銜的許秀華,初到馬來西亞,也無法找到工作,只能在家做飯、帶孩子。

許秀華說,夫家祖籍福建,所以平常準備吃的和台灣差不多,只不過他們的口味早已「入境隨俗」,偏愛酸酸辣辣的「馬來式」調味。

「有空,我也參加一些台灣太太的聚會,大家在一起煮煮東西,聊聊台灣的事」,許秀華透露,他們這一區有個台灣太太在華航工作,消息比較靈通,大家邊聽邊聊,也可解解鄉愁。「這邊台灣雜誌不多,電視節目水準普遍不高,錄影帶又多半來自香港、新加坡,沒什麼看頭。」

所以,她一面帶孩子,一面自修兒童心理。這方面的書念多了,累積下來,許秀華漸漸發現,她對教育的興趣要比「本行」——植物生化來得大。

後來,兒子要上幼稚園,她到鄰近一家幼稚園觀察教學情形,看到五、六十個小朋友共擠一室,老師則手持藤條在講台上處罰幾個愛講話的學生。

「我實在不想讓我的孩子受這種罪」,許秀華說,剛好那時有個建築公司的朋友,推薦她買一棟房子,「兩件事加在一起,我就想乾脆自己辦個幼稚園吧!」

有錢出錢、有力出力

「娘家」那邊得知她的構想後,十分支持,並應允給予經濟援助。「才能」幼教中心就在「有錢出線」、「有力出力」的配合下,順利開辦。

「沒想到踏出這一步會這樣『沒完沒了』」,因為和教育結緣,許秀華有機會認識巴生中華獨立中學的董事,接著受邀加入該校「校務革新促進會」,後來前任校長因病退休,她便在諸位董事的委託下,接手這個重擔。

「我覺得台灣有今天的成就,教育的帶動是很重要的因素,現在我在馬來西亞辦教育,也是希望能多培養一些人才,幫助這個國家進步。」許秀華對自己充滿了期許。

八年前,在同樣的處境和動機下,鄭心梅創辦了「樂林學院」。「樂林學院」不但有托兒所,還設計了音樂班、繪畫班、華語班等課程。

鄭心梅說,當初辦「樂林學院」,除了方便照顧孩子之外,還希望有個精神寄託。「我老公在文德甲工作,開車來回要好幾個小時,平常周末才回來,我找個事做,才好排遣時間嘛!」

管教孩子有一套

據說,在大馬的台灣太太,因生活苦悶而導致夫妻感情不睦的例子,時有所聞。

鄭心梅說,這些太太們多半語言不通,沒有「正式學位」,找不到好工作,又不願乖乖在家當「賢妻良母」,成天打麻將、跳舞,這樣子,家庭當然會受影響。

「有些台灣太太覺得嫁到馬來西亞,已夠委屈的了,先生怎麼還能不小心『服侍』?!」陳德業說,這些人有娘家在台灣,覺得有靠山和後路,往往不願意盡力克服適應問題,夫妻一吵架就要回娘家,甚至還以帶走孩子當要挾。

于美鈴的「大馬先生」曾環強則認為:「台灣太太性子急,脾氣暴躁,不過管教孩子很有一套。」

「談不上管教啦,我小時候也是這樣過來的」,這兩年,台灣商人到馬來西亞投資者日多,馬來政府看上了于美鈴的「背景」,特聘她為投資顧問,業務一多,加班的機會自然增多。「只好把孩子的家教一起請到辦公室來。」

為了業務需要,于美鈴在台北也成立辦事處,每個月幾乎都要回台北幾次。她自稱比別人幸運,沒有所謂的思鄉之苦。

是後盾,不是後路

許秀華、鄭心梅每年也都會回娘家,名義上是「探親」,實際上是「公出」。因為主要的時間不是參觀學校,就是購買教材、課本。

「與其說台灣是後路,還不如說是『後盾』來得恰當」,許秀華每次回台灣,都像搬家似的,光是幼教中心的玩具就買上好幾箱。而故鄉豐裕的資源,讓她有頗強的支援。

她常常想,如果自己當時留在台灣的話,今天會是個什麼樣子?或許就是在學校裡教書、平凡過日子吧!「在異地奮鬥的成就感,可能要比單純教書大得多。」

她覺得嫁到異地,就像一棵植物被連根拔起,移植到另一塊土地上去;這種情況很可能使植物水土不服、適應不良,但一旦適應了之後,這棵植物或許會比原來生長得更好、更有生命力。

許多在異鄉生活、奮鬥的華人,不都是在這樣的情況下,闖出自己的一片天空?!

〔圖片說明〕

P.36

從台灣遠嫁大馬的于美鈴會計師說,在馬來西亞開業做生意,起碼得懂英文、馬來話、福建話、潮州話、廣東話五種語言。

P.37

鄭心梅說,當初辦「樂林學院」,除了方便照顧孩子之外,還希望有個精神寄託。

P.37

「在馬來西亞辦教育,也是希望能多培養一些人才,幫助這個國家進步。」許秀華對自己充滿了期許。

P.38

曾環強、于美鈴夫婦目前都在馬來西亞從事會計師的工作。

P.39

「才能幼教中心」是許秀華在馬來西亞開創事業的起點。

P.40

鄭心梅滿臉笑容地展示學院的輝煌成績。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Malaysian Husbands, Taiwan Wives

Lu Li Chen /photos courtesy of Huang Li-li /tr. by Peter Eberly

Cheng Hsin-mei met Ch'en Te-yeh back in high school, and they starting talking seriously about getting married after she finished college. Her parents thought Ch'en was a nice young man of good character; the only problem was he lived in Malaysia, and if their darling daughter really married him, wouldn't it mean sending her off to a distant land?

Hsin-mei asked her fiance if they could stay together in Taiwan, but he kept getting pressing letters from his parents in Malaysia, putting him in a difficult position.

But love conquers all, Cheng thought, and "since I love him, I ought to go with him!"


When Cheng Hsin-mei arrived in Malaysia, she found that her in-laws lived not just in another country but in altogether another world.

Her father-in-law owned a twelve-acre rubber plantation outside Kuala Lumpur, and their house was right in the middle, a full three-hours' walk from the nearest road. They had to go to bed at six o'clock each evening because there was no electricity, they had to walk half an hour to fetch water from the well, and they had to put up with being bitten by mosquitoes when they went to the toilet, which was "roadside squat-style," of course.

Even worse, her husband was sent off to Singapore for three months of job training a few days after they were married, leaving Cheng Hsin-mei, who was unable to speak the language, behind "incommunicado even to God above." It's easy to imagine how lonely she must have been.

"The happiest thing in my life back then was getting a letter from Taiwan," she recalls. "Mom tried to encourage me in her letters. She kept telling me to accept the Lord's arrangements and that all the hardships would pass as long as I was patient. . . ."

Wives in Malaysia from Taiwan, like Cheng Hsin-mei, number in the thousands, most of them having married Chinese Malaysians who studied in colleges in Taiwan.

Malaysian universities apply a quota to applicants of non-Malay origin, so many Chinese Malaysians find they have to go overseas to study. Taiwan is similar to Malaysia in its educational system and course contents and entails lower tuitions and living expenses than Europe or North America, so it often receives prime consideration among them as a place for advanced study.

Chinese Malaysians started going to Taiwan to study in the 1950s, and since Nanyang University of Singapore closed its doors in 1980, about 1,000 more graduates of high schools in Malaysia have come to Taiwan each year. There are now more than 30,000 students from Malaysia in Taiwan, among whom no fewer than 3,000 have local wives.

Most women from Taiwan who have moved to Malaysia because of marriage have received a college or high school education and would much prefer working in an office to staying at home doing housework. But if they want to go out and find a job, they have to obtain permanent resident status first, and for wives from Taiwan that takes a full five years. Some have been married to Malaysian men for ten years without being able to obtain citizenship.

Furthermore, Malaysia is a multiethnic society with a plethora of languages and dialects, especially in a big city like Kuala Lumpur. "You can usually get by with English, but if you go to a government agency you have to speak Malaysian to get anything done, and I need a minimum of Fukienese, Cantonese, and the Chaochow dialect in talking business with my clients," says Yu Mei-ling, who married a Malaysian fifteen years ago and now runs her own accounting office.

Another obstacle to finding a job is that the Malaysian government doesn't recognize diplomas from Taiwan universities. The result is, brides from Taiwan have little choice but to stay put in the kitchen.

Many Chinese Malaysians who have studied in Taiwan understand the problem about diplomas and will try to go to a country with colleges recognized by the Malaysian government for further study if their financial resources permit. Ch'en Shu-shih and Hsu Hsiu-hua are just such an example.

They were classmates in Taiwan at Chung Hsing University, married after graduation, and then went on to England for further study. A year after earning their doctorates her husband took her back to Malaysia with him. Hsu Hsiu-hua couldn't find a job, so she had to stay at home cooking and looking after the children.

When her children were old enough to go to school she went to a nearby kindergarten, where she saw fifty or sixty children packed together in one room, several of them being punished with a switch for talking in class.

"I really didn't want to make my kids go through that," she says. A friend of hers at a construction company had just suggested she buy a house, and she decided to set up her own kindergarten!"

Faced with a similar situation and driven by a similar motive, Cheng Hsin-mei opened the Le-lin School eight years ago. Besides serving as a day care center, also offers classes in music, painting, and Chinese.

Cheng Hsin-mei says that running the school has given her spiritual satisfaction as well as fulfilling its initial purpose as a place to look after her children. "My husband works several hours away and usually comes home only on weekends, so I needed to find something to do with my time."

Hsu Hsiu-hua and Cheng Hsin-mei go back to Taiwan to see their relatives each year. In name, that is. Actually, it's more like a business trip because most of their time is spent visiting schools or buying textbooks and teaching materials.

Hsu Hsiu-hua often wonders what she would be doing today if she had stayed in Taiwan. Probably living an ordinary life as a schoolteacher. "The sense of achievement I get trying to make it in a foreign country is much greater than I would by just teaching."

Aren't many Chinese who live overseas in a similar situation, trying to forge a new world for themselves?

[Picture Caption]

Yu Mei-ling, an accountant who moved to Malaysia with her Malaysian husband, says that a person starting up a business there needs to know five languages at a minimum: English, Malay, Fukienese, Cantonese, and the Chaochow dialect of Chinese.

Cheng Hsin-mei says that she set up the Le-lin School in the hope of finding some spiritual satisfaction, besides being a convenient way to look after her children.

"By running a school here we also hope to develop talented personnel to help the country advance," says Hsu Hsiu-hua, full of promise and expectations.

Yu Mei-ling and her husband, Tseng Huan-ch'iang, both work in Malaysia as accountants.

The Talent Child Education Center was the starting Point for Hsu Hsiu-hua in setting up businesses in Malaysia.

Cheng Hsin-mei is all smiles displaying the school's shining record of achievements.

 

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