We’ve all probably heard of the falling out between former buddies Pan Ling Ling and Hong Hui Fang, and with both ladies choosing to stay under the radar after the news broke, there has yet to be an occasion where they have formally addressed the situation.
The press conference of upcoming Channel 8 drama Say Cheese, which was held yesterday (August 1), was Hui Fang’s first media appearance since the news broke, and Toggle took the opportunity to address the elephant in the room when we spoke to the 58-year-old in an interview.
Her character in Say Cheese, Huang Rui Yun (also known as Watermelon Aunt), serves as the mediator between her husband (played by Richard Low) and her good friend (played by Chen Li Ping), along with the rest of her reel-life family, played by Cynthia Koh, Zzen and Joanne Peh.
We asked her if she also plays the role of a ‘mediator’ between family and friends in real life, with Hui Fang musing, “I won’t involve myself in something that I don’t know about or understand. If it’s something that doesn’t concern my family, I won’t involve myself because I cannot take sides.”
WATCH: Hong Hui Fang: My children said they learned a good lesson from recent controversy
She continued, “I feel that we shouldn’t end up in complicated situations when we’re interacting with people, but there are some unforeseen things that nobody (guessed would happen), so I can only do what I can (…) These unforeseen happenings can sometimes make me feel helpless.”
Hui Fang, who is known to be fiercely protective of her family members, added that “family will always family regardless of how much we argue. Family won’t hurt each other. Since we don’t understand what’s going on in the outside world, we shouldn’t take sides and remain neutral. This is a principle I live by.”
Addressing the elephant in the room, Hui Fang maintained that she would not discuss her alleged spat with Pan Ling Ling when asked about it, and politely declined to share if there were any peacemakers who tried to smooth over the situation.
However, she let on that after the controversy, her children, Tay Ying and Calvert Tay, said one thing to her: “Mummy, we really learned something, and it’s a good lesson to us.” In response, she told them that the “outside world is more cruel than Singapore, so you must have a strong heart to take it.”
(Continued on next page: Hong Hui Fang confirms that Tay Ying will be heading to China after graduating)
Among the reports last week was one which stated that Tay Ying will be jetting to China to kick start her career in the mainland, something that Hui Fang personally confirmed.
“I’m a bit worried about letting her go overseas alone, but with a good and experienced management label with her, I’ll let her go with no worries at all. I feel that studies are important, but dreams are meant to be pursued. You’re only young once, and once it’s over, you’ll be filled with regrets if you miss out on something that you really want to do,” Hui Fang shared.
She has told her daughter to step out of her comfort zone bravely, and if all else fails, she will always have a home waiting for her. “I told her, If you cannot make it, you (can just) come back. If you fall, everyone (back home) is here to support you,” she said. “I don’t know how long she will be there for (…) She should be heading there for training once she graduates next June. I told her that she needs a strong heart to take on any obstacles, because if you don’t have one you’ll get knocked down easily. That’s the harsh reality, and although I can’t bear to let her go, I don’t want to trap her in a like a bird in a gilded cage.”
Some of the wise words that she has imparted to her children also include relationship advice. With Calvert’s love life taking centre-stage after it was reported that he is dating fellow actor Julie Tan, Hui Fang maintained that she will not interfere in either of her children’s love lives in spite of the rumours.
“When they were younger, they didn’t like their private lives being in the spotlight, but as they grew up, they wanted to go into acting too. When Calvert was filming While We Are Young, he received some criticism but I told him that it’s impossible for everyone to like you,” Hui Fang said.
“Their love lives will also be put under the spotlight and be something that the media is interested in (…) I told them that their relationships will be used as media fodder when they’re nobodies, but when they become somebody, it’ll become just another piece of news and nobody will attack you [with it],” she said, as if referring to Calvert’s much-speculated about relationship with Julie.
Giving the example of Nicholas Tse’s on-off relationship with Faye Wong back in the day, Hui Fang pointed out that he has continued on his showbiz path after the news died down. “Nobody will care and who cares, as long as you’re happy. You haven’t harmed anyone, so everyone just treats it as a piece of gossip,” she said.
After all that has happened, Hui Fang maintained that she will not – and doesn’t want to – control Tay Ying and Calvert’s love lives.
She declared, “It’s part of their growing up, and I can’t control that. I have to let them grow on their own. If they have a relationship, they have one. If they don’t, it’s fine as well. It’s not something that we can interfere in. They’ll all grown up anyway. I treat them as adults after they turn 18 and I don’t think there’s any need to stick my nose in everything they do.”
Say Cheese debuts on August 6, 9pm on Channel 8.