Blossom Wong: The M’sian Spy Who Fought Crime In A Cheongsam

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Image via Zaudin Saad

In the annals of Malaysian law enforcement history, few figures command as much intrigue and respect as Blossom Wong, the former undercover operative for the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) who sported a cheongsam during her covert missions.

Now 86 years old, Wong’s journey dates back to her humble beginnings in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur. Nicknamed “Blossom” for her love of gardening, Wong’s childhood fascination with plants earned her this endearing title from a neighbour, the wife of the District Officer of Sungai Besi.

source: New Straits Times

During an interview with New Straits Times, she reminisced, “You may wonder where I got the name Blossom from. My real name is Wong Kooi Fong. I have always loved plants and gardening. When I was still a child living in Sungei Besi, Kuala Lumpur, I was very fond of planting flowers.”

Despite her early passion for botany, Wong’s trajectory toward law enforcement was not immediately apparent. After completing her Senior Cambridge examinations in the 1950s, she found herself at a crossroads, contemplating conventional career paths such as becoming a teacher or secretary.

Yet, these options failed to ignite her passion. “In those days, there were only two options available for girls. I could become a teacher or a secretary. Both were not my cup of tea,” she reflected.

source: New Straits Times

Wong’s fateful encounter with a policewoman patrolling Kuala Lumpur sparked a newfound determination. “One day, I was walking in town (near the current Pavilion shopping mall) and saw a police patrol car. In the front seat was a lady officer and she had a cap on. She looked so smart.

“She looked at me and smiled and from that moment, I was sold. I would be a policewoman,” she recalled. This encounter marked the beginning of her clandestine journey into law enforcement, a path she pursued against her parents’ wishes and societal expectations.

After stealthily applying for a position within the police force, Wong embarked on six months of rigorous training, culminating in her official induction into the police force on 1 August 1957, as an Inspector in the Special Branch stationed in Penang.

Tasked with undercover surveillance to gather intelligence on communist activities, she embraced her alias “Blossom” and delved into the perilous world of espionage with unwavering resolve and skill.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash for illustration purposes only

“I recall our law instructor, Barcharan Singh, who was excellent. Marching under the hot sun three times a week in boots was the toughest part of our training. Instructions were given in Bahasa Malaysia, which I struggled with initially.

“We had to wake up before 6 a.m. every day, and by 6:10 a.m., we were already marching from the barracks to the administration block. Our batch consisted of 15 women and an equal number of men.

“Upon graduation, we became probationary inspectors. I was selected to join the Special Branch and was stationed in Penang. Given the communist activity in Sungai Besi, I preferred to be far from my family to avoid any risks associated with my profession being discovered. I didn’t have the opportunity to wear the PDRM uniform in the Special Branch though, contrary to my initial hopes,” she said.

source: Back 2 BBGs

After four years, she secured a transfer to Ipoh, assuming the role of assistant area inspector overseeing five police stations. In 1962, Wong tied the knot and returned to her hometown of Kuala Lumpur. There, she took on the role of a prosecuting officer in the magistrate’s and juvenile courts.

It was during this time that Wong’s career saw her escorting prominent figures including Madam Park, wife of former South Korean president Park Chung-hee, Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, the Governor-General of New Zealand, as well as Robert F. Kennedy and his wife Ethel during their visit to Malaysia in 1964.

Her dedication eventually extended beyond mere surveillance, as she spearheaded groundbreaking initiatives in law enforcement.

She recounted, “Later in my career, I would be called up to head another unit. This time, Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar asked me to set up the rape investigation section. We received training, and a kit from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”

In 1966, tasked by OCPD Albert Mah, she uncovered a brothel in a coffee shop on Jalan Ampang, apprehending underage girls and exposing widespread vice.

“It was a Chinese coffee shop with multiple rooms on its upper floor. Undercover, one of my colleagues and I discreetly ascended and observed several girls seated on beds.

“Subsequently, we executed the first anti-vice operation, apprehending a van filled with girls, some of whom were underage and one pregnant. They were all local girls, with no foreigners involved. Their activities spanned from Jalan Walter Grenier to Jalan Khoo Teik Ee, Jalan Hicks, and Jalan Alor. The mama-sans overseeing these establishments soon became wary of my presence,” she explained.

However, Wong’s covert assignments came at a cost. “Working with the Special Branch took a toll on my social life. I was very unhappy socially. I was not supposed to mix with the other uniformed girls. When I met one of them on the street, I had to ignore them because it might give my position away,” she lamented. Despite the challenges, Wong remained undeterred, driven by her unwavering commitment to justice.

Notably, her contributions were made in a tumultuous period of Malaysian history – when the nation was plunged into a civil war which was then simply characterised as an Emergency (darurat). She was thus tasked with disguising herself in order to obtain information on the communist movement, as per this blog post.

Despite the perilous nature of her work, she persevered, risking her life for the greater good.

source: New Straits Times

In recognition of her outstanding performance, Wong was appointed to lead the Sexual Violence, Child Abuse, and Domestic Violence Investigation Division at Bukit Aman by Inspector General Tun Haniff Omar.

Wong and her team also made history as the first Malaysian police unit to utilise DNA testing in criminal investigations, a testament to her foresight and dedication to advancing law enforcement practices.

Upon her retirement in 1993, Wong left behind a legacy of courage, integrity, and innovation in Malaysian law enforcement. Nowadays, in addition to dedicating time to her daughter and assisting with her veterinary practice, Blossom enjoys tending to her garden.

With a tenure of 36-and-a-half years in the police force, she reflects fondly on her career, harbouring no regrets. She even says that given the chance, she would choose the same path once more without hesitation.

Though the cheongsam-clad spy may have faded into obscurity, her impact on Malaysian society and unwavering commitment to justice and service is here to stay. ❤️