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Wendy Jacobs speaks her mind

The fact that I am strong is good. It would be sad if both of us were the same

But we have a great relationship. He's taught me to be more accepting

MACHO men will call it an emasculating remark.

In any case, it's not the sort of comment you would expect to hear about one of the nation's favourite sons.

But exceptions can probably be made, especially when the remark comes from Wendy Jacobs, Fandi Ahmad's wife.

'I wear the pants in the house,' she says in a frank interview published in the latest issue of New Man magazine.

Wendy, who also appears on the cover, tells the magazine quite a bit about Singapore's most famous soccer icon. Of his business acumen, she says: 'I think if I had run Fandi's businesses, we wouldn't be in the situation we are right now, trying to get over bad debts and those failed ventures.'


And what of his recent appointment to the No 2 coaching spot in the national squad?

'The first thing I said was, Are they paying you?'. Everything in the papers was, national duty', national pride'. Did the nation help you when you were in trouble?

'Is the nation going to help when you can't pay your son's school fees? Is the nation going to help when the bank takes your house?'

The South African model is well aware her comments might cause an uproar.

'The FAS will probably be calling me,' she tells The New Paper. 'But I made those statements to wake people up. They have to understand what Fandi and I are about.'

She says: 'If you conducted a poll right now, you'd definitely think he's making millions. Hello? Where did that concept come from? He too has to work for his bread and butter. Nothing in life is free.'

The 29-year old mother of four children (she gave birth to her third boy last November) sounds self-assured over the phone. She's candid, forthcoming and articulate.

Her intention, she will have you know, is not to undermine her husband's authority or public reputation. She is just doing her wifely and maternal duty - looking after his interests and that of their family.


'People who know him will tell you he is a humble person; he is just too sweet. He finds it hard to say no.

'The fact that I am a strong person is a good thing. It would be a sad, sad story if both of us were the same.

'The mentality of people is that if they can get something for free, why pay for it? So they ask the weak one. It's the strong one who keeps order. The strong one is there to help the weak.'

While she acknowledges that opposing personalities can cause friction, she maintains that theirs is a complementary relationship.

'He keeps me in check, too. He's taught me to be more accepting. Many times he's told me to be less harsh, to handle things and situations differently. It's a great relationship, we give and take.'

She readily admits that they fight, all the time. 'At least one good healthy quarrel a week. But we have learnt to laugh over our quarrels,' she says with a hearty chuckle.

But seriously, Fandi's well-publicised and less than successful ventures into the food and used car businesses have been stressful on the marriage.


'The bigger the family, the bigger the financial problems. We have bills to pay. When I gave birth to my fourth child, the hospital bill was over the top.'

She gets critical of governmental policy. 'What makes three the magic number? The fourth child doesn't get Edusave; I also cannot use my Medisave.'

Wendy returns to the state of her marriage and their financial health, although she declines to give details on the latter.

'But we all learn from our mistakes. Fandi's experiences have made him stronger. They've also made him realise his focal point should be soccer. What we've been through have been a strain on the marriage but we learn to get back on track. If you can get through things like these, you can get through anything.'

They have been married for seven years, but Wendy is not content to be just Mrs Fandi Ahmad.

'I don't need the Fandi Ahmad name to do and accomplish what I want to do.

'I have my own identity, and I want to succeed, whether in the business or social worlds or in the modelling circle.'


Wendy has proved this in modelling. After four kids (between 3 months and 6 years old) she is still as jaunty as ever on the catwalk or in front of the camera.

'Modelling gives me a sense of self worth, it's nice to know people still think I look good.'

She's also working on 'different dreams for myself'. Unabashedly she tells you she wants her own TV talk show; she also talks enthusiastically about her 'biggest adventure at the moment' - organising workshops on personal etiquette for women, from maids to mothers.

She's not dissatisfied with her life - far from it.

'I'm only 29 and I've achieved a lot. I've a great family, I've had my successes but you always strive for something better.'

The outspoken one bristles at suggestions that she doesn't need to work.

'I don't believe in living off my husband's money. You never know what's going to happen tomorrow; you don't know if doors which are open will close.

You have to have your own money. My father has told me, even when I was a little girl, to be independent, to never depend on a man.'

Women who define themselves by their husband, she says, 'are not true to themselves. A woman who does that might as well lock herself up in a room. Everyone's got to have a role in life.'

And for Wendy Jacobs, that is to be a good wife, a good mother but also a successful woman in her own right.


This article was first published in The New Paper on Feb 14, 2003.

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