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Rising Above Adversity: Jenny Pong

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

An Inspirational Role Model

Double amputee Jenny Pong is a woman who inspires. Life has dealt her some harsh blows but she remains undaunted.

Lying on her stomach on her makeshift trolley as she moves about, she manages work around her house, goes marketing and is a fantastic cook. Her positive outlook and her thousand watt smile will light up any room that she trundles with her trolley into. Her favourite line is: “You can lose your limbs, but you cannot lose your smile.” And this is what endears Jenny to all who come in contact with her.

Jenny came from very humble beginnings, growing up in a small village in Ipoh with her parents and six other siblings. To feed them, her parents had to resort to growing their own vegetables and raising their own chickens. Jenny had to stop schooling when she was aged 12 to help out with the family. She washed dishes at a local restaurant and worked at a karaoke joint as a teenager to help supplement the family income.

Jenny married when she was 18. She was looking forward to becoming a first-time mother but when her twin daughters were stillborn, she was heartbroken. A few days after she returned from the hospital, Jenny felt very weak. She had a postnatal viral infection that resulted in her falling into a coma for two years. Jenny’s husband subsequently walked out of the marriage.

When Jenny came out of her coma, she was faced with another hurdle – gangrene had set in and her legs had to be amputated.

Learning to get used to her new vantage point, which is about two feet off the ground, was not easy. Jenny faced moments of great despair. However, with the support of her family, Jenny eventually was able to see the world in a more positive light and adapted to her new life with pride and dignity. Jenny who is a great cook, even managed to return to cooking by placing the stove on the floor.

Jenny has an enterprising streak and has tried her hand at making various crafts to earn some income. However, on her doctor’s advice she had to give up some of these crafts as the ingredients she had to handle were too toxic for her fragile health.

Jenny’s struggles in the face of adversity has not gone unnoticed. She was conferred the Pingat Jasa Kebaktian (PJK) by the Sultan of Perak in 1998.

Soroptimist International Ipoh (SI Ipoh) Gets Involved

SI Ipoh began its friendship with Jenny Pong when she was invited as one of the speakers for an International Women’s day event that was held by SI Ipoh in 2015. Soroptimist’s mission is to enrich the lives of women and girls through programmes leading to social and economic empowerment. SI Ipoh was overwhelmed by Jenny’s enthusiasm and her dynamic positive outlook on life and decided to help her achieve financial stability in view of her constant medical care needs. They therefore took it upon the society to make Jenny Pong one of their projects for empowering women.The means of how to achieve this was finally conceived in September 2016 when they discovered that Jenny is a fantastic cook and her homemade nyonya curry chicken is delectably delicious!

SI Ipoh then decided to assist Jenny to promote and market the curry paste. While Jenny concentrates on her cooking, SI Ipoh is helping her with sourcing suitable packaging materials, labeling, branding, marketing, costing, distribution channels, and all the other details of delivering product to market..

The first batch of the home-made Nyonya Curry Paste was brought to Soroptimist International Region of Malaysia’s (SIROM’s) Food & Fun Fiesta in Kuala Lumpur recently. A  total of 400 packets of pastes were sold in that event. Since then, in less than a month, Jenny has sold more than 1000 packets of paste.

The paste has been well-received not only because of its great taste but also due to its ease of cooking that suits the busy lifestyle of most families. With the paste, a great nyonya dish can be done in 20 mins. All it takes is water, meat and some coconut milk (optional) with no need to chop, grind or fry.

Modest and self-effacing as ever, Jenny hopes that people are buying her paste not out of pity but rather because they like her paste and will continue to be her customers. Having satisfied and happy customers is what matters most to Jenny.

About the paste

Made from fresh ingredients and with no preservatives, no MSG and no artificial colouring. Now available at:

  1. 1.    Yee Hup Outlet (Ampang branch) 
  2. The Terrace Cafe, Meru Valley Resort.

Free delivery is available for any direct order via Jenny Pong (012 587 5407) for 10 packets or more per order.

RM12 per 500g pack. A smaller 250g pack at RM7 per pack will be introduced soon to cater for smaller cooking portions.

Jenny Pong is coming out with her new products – Sambal Belacan (RM5 per 250g pack); Ginger Sauce (RM8 per 250g pack). The paste can be used for chicken, fish, vegetables and many other preparations.

Contact Details

If you have any enquiries or if you would want to help as a distributor or if you would like to buy the curry paste, please call any of the following numbers:

  • 012 588 2313 (Jean Chai)
  • 012 501 9250 (Kuan)
  • 010 514 3333 (Sumathi)
  • Jenny Pong can be contacted at her mobile 012 587 5407

Comment from Foodie SeeFoon:

I loved Jenny’s Curry paste. Not only is it robust and tangy but the spice quotient was right up my alley. No additional condiments were needed when I cooked one whole chicken with one packet of the paste. The only ingredient I needed to add was the coconut milk. I also used it another time for some wild boar meat that a friend gave me and it was equally yummilicious.

Instead of the usual Christmas presents why not buy a dozen or so packets of Jenny Pong’s Curry Paste instead? Your family and friends will thank you and in this time of giving, help a worthy cause.

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See Foon

SeeFoon Chan-Koppen has been writing a food column called Musings on Food in the Ipoh Echo since 2009. It is widely read both in print as well as online which receives more than 1 million hits a month. Her forte is in communications, having honed her skills after graduating from the University of Singapore where she worked for the Straits Times Group and was a food critic for the New Nation. Her knowledge of food and cooking come from more than 30 years in the hotel industry based in Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong and subsequently Kuala Lumpur. During this time, she has travelled all over the world and eaten at the best and worst restaurants. She is totally intimate with the subtleties and nuances of most cuisines of the world having been involved in opening over 50 hotels throughout the Asia/Pacific region and China where she helped to conceptualize Food and Beverage themes and critiqued on food quality. SeeFoon calls herself a global citizen and now chooses the serenity and friendliness of Ipoh to the bright lights of the many cities she has lived in. She also loves the food in Ipoh and is passionate about telling the world about it.

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