Hong Hui Fang and her daughter Tay Ying, and son Calvert Tay (Photos: Instagram/Hong Hui Fang); Hong Hui Fang at the SA2019 Top 40 press conference
We have finally solved the mystery behind why Tay Ying and Calvert Tay are more ang moh pai (more proficient in English than Mandarin) despite being the offspring of Channel 8 stalwarts Zheng Ge Ping and Hong Hui Fang.
It’s all thanks to a maid who was first hired when Tay Ying, 22, was born (fun fact: they still keep in touch on Facebook), and who retired after Calvert, 18, entered primary school. According to Hui Fang, whom we spoke to at the Star Awards 2019 Top 40 press conference, the maid was very pretty (she was even crowned the winner of a beauty pageant for domestic workers here in Singapore), but also smart and capable.
“I was very busy back then and didn’t have time to help my kids with their studies, so she is the one who taught them their spelling and grammar,” said the 59-year-old actress.
However, because the maid is Filipino, she was only able to monitor their English homework. “One day, she told me, ‘Ma’am, you have to teach them Chinese’, and when I asked why, she showed me their results: all zero marks for Chinese! I was like, ‘S***!’ and quickly hired a tuition teacher. (Laughs) But that’s why they’re more ang moh pai now.”
Hong Hui Fang with husband Zheng Ge Ping and kids Tay Ying and Calvert Tay (Photos: Instagram/Hong Hui Fang)
With all the disheartening and disgusting news about maid abuse cases that have been making headlines in Singapore, we were happy to hear that Hui Fang’s former maid was treated very well and given a lot of freedom.
“Her off days were on Sundays and public holidays, but if she wanted to go out on a Saturday night because her sister was in town, I would let her go,” Hui Fang recalled. “Some of my friends would ask me how I could be so lenient with my maid, and I would say, ‘They’re human wat! They have a right to their off days!’”
As such, it wasn’t surprising that she had some pretty strong views about employers who treat their house help cruelly. “Whenever I read news about [maid abuse cases], it just baffles me: how could someone bring themselves to treat another human being like that? All I can say is people like that are sick.”
Our thoughts exactly.
(Continued on next page: Hui Fang's most memorable moment filming horror film 'The Maid')
Alessandra de Rossi, Chen Shu Cheng, and Hong Hui Fang in 'The Maid'
This attitude is nothing like the one her twisted character has in horror film The Maid, which is set to air on Channel 5 and Toggle at 10pm tonight (Mar 19) as part of Mediacorp’s Lights. Camera. Singapore. campaign. In the Kelvin Tong-helmed supernatural flick, Hui Fang and Chen Shu Cheng play a couple who bring a young maid (played by Filipino-Italian actress Alessandra De Rossi) from the Philippines to Singapore for a much more sinister reason than just cleaning up.
We don’t want to give away too much (even if the film is 14 years old), so let’s just say that all hell breaks loose in the second half of the movie and Hui Fang needed to be drenched in blood for one scene, something she told us was the most memorable part of the entire shoot.
“I didn’t know the fake blood would be so sticky!” she exclaimed. “I was told it was mixed with honey so that it would be thicker and not dry so quickly in the sun. When filming ended, I had to stand in the middle of the road while people poured buckets and buckets of water over me to try and get the stickiness out of my hair.”
Alessandra de Rossi and Hong Hui Fang in 'The Maid'
Perhaps that is why, after enduring so much for the role, Hui Fang couldn’t even get mad when she found out that her children had secretly bought a VCD of the film and watched it with their friends behind her back (horror movies were banned for them back then).
“They said it was the scariest movie they had ever watched and couldn’t sleep for nights after that,” she chuckled. “But I wasn’t angry because it was my film!”
Watch 'The Maid' on Toggle:
Visit the Lights. Camera. Singapore. microsite for more information and to watch past films.