In Singapore, Ms Chiang is known as an active advocate for women’s rights, the disadvantaged and family life. She helped start the Association of Women for Action and Research helpline, is president of the Society Against Family Violence (SAFV), and has trained police officers to deal more sensitively with victims of domestic violence and rape.
Ms Chiang’s drive started from a young age. She was enrolled in two primary schools – Nanhua Chinese and Raffles Girls School – so that she could benefit from a bilingual education. Her mother also made sure that she picked up many skills, from ballet and Chinese dance to playing the piano.
Later, as a young woman, Ms Chiang was said to have begged her father over three hours to let her defer her honours year at the National University of Singapore (NUS) so that she could study at the Sorbonne in Paris. When she returned 14 months later, she persuaded NUS to let her complete her course and also convinced the French Embassy to hire her as a secretary although she couldn’t type, and negotiated a work schedule that allowed her to attend university at the same time.
Ms Chiang is also known for being the name behind Banyan Tree Gallery, which conserves the culture and heritage of villages around the world and sustains the livelihoods and skills of their artisans by selling their handmade crafts. In addition, by using materials indigenous to the villages, the Gallery conserves natural and cultural resources.
Ms Chiang is a member of the Board of Governors of Raffles’ Girls School and the Singapore General Hospital Medifund Committee, and is also a mentor for the Young Women’s Leadership Connection mentorship programme. She volunteers with Help Every Lone Parent and the People’s Association. Since 2010, she has been a member of the Advisory Council, National Committee for United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in Singapore. She was one of the first two women to serve in the Council of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry. She co-authored Stepping Out: The making of Chinese entrepreneurs with Dr Chan Kwok Bun, which has been made into a local TV drama series.