Tag Archives: England

A rather messy war in Britain during Halloween

In the past two months, since the death of the Malayan communist leader Chin Peng on the 16th of September, I have written nine challenging posts about Communism and the brutal jungle war in Malaya and the suffering of the Batang Kali children who travelled without a suitcase. These are challenging to me because I had never set out to write about major historical conflicts on my blog. When I started blogging in English less than two years ago, I had never anticipated that one day I would handle such a sensitive and emotional subject, as the pains of the Batang Kali children are still clearly felt though Communism is already dead in Malaysia.

While I am still reading about the Malaysian history during the Malayan Emergency period while reading War of the Running Dogs: Malaya, 1948-1960 by Noel Barber, and Jungle Green by Arthur Campbell, I have also noticed the change of the season. The warm summer has faded into a rather chilly autumn. In Britain, our clocks moved one hour backwards on the last Sunday in October. It delighted me last weekend as I felt I had earned one extra hour’s sleep. Continue reading

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“And The Rain My Drink” new edition by Han Suyin

When the medical doctor Han Suyin arrived in Johore Bahru of Malaya in the early 1950s, what was Malaya like? What was the smell of Malaya?

I have a few still images to show you.

Continue reading

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Chin Peng, Leon Comber and Han Suyin

Who was Chin Peng’s opponent in Malaya? Chin Peng’s rival was the former British intelligence officer Dr Leon Comber.

“It struck me that if there is anyone alive who knew Chin Peng “professionally” it had to be Dr Leon Comber.”

Continue reading

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Chin Peng’s favourite poems

In Flanders Fields is the best-known war poem, written by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915. The first stanza carries these famous lines:

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

From the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae

This poem has been immortalised by the image of scarlet poppies. Now, I am going to share with you a Chinese war poem, which is marked by the image of thousands of bleached bones. Continue reading

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Chin Peng’s farewell letter: Dare and Duties

What is your view on Chin Peng? A brave freedom fighter who fought alongside British forces in the Second World War and defeated the Japanese? A colonial villain whose ambition was to drive out the British to establish a communist state in Malaya and Singapore? An unrepentant and unpardonable terrorist who was responsible for atrocities in the 40-year conflict in Malaysia?

In his death, Chin Peng wanted to be remembered “simply as a good man.” Continue reading

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How much was Chin Peng worth?

How much was Chin Peng worth?

On the 1st of May, 1952, the headline of The Straits Times screamed, “NOW IT’S $250,000 FOR PUBLIC ENEMY No. 1 — if brought in alive.” In modern English, it asks, “Who wants to be a millionaire?”

According to The Malay Mail online, the caption under Chin Peng’s large mugshot read: “THIS IS CHIN PENG. The brains behind the terrorism in Malaya, he is worth $250,000 to anyone who has information which will lead to his capture.”

Kids shuddered at hearing the name Chen Ping.  Mothers warned their misbehaved children that “If you are naughty, Chin Peng would come and get you.” Continue reading

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Migration to the New Village

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival this year is on the 19th of September, on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. The lustrous full moon is a symbol of reunion on earth.

Reunion was a luxury in war-time Malaya. First it was the Japanese invasion, later the 12-year Malayan Emergency  (1948–60), in the backdrop of intense fighting between the communist guerrilla insurgency led by the communist leader, Chin Peng, and the British administration. Thousands of people were killed; families were broken. Fear, betrayal, hatred and racial tension ensued. Continue reading

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Death of a communist leader

I wrote in April that my neighbour’s husband ‘disappeared’ in the wood one day:

My neighbour’s husband ‘disappeared’ in the wood one day, in the 70s, as he was suspected of supplying food to the communists. He simply vanished from the wood for at least a decade. I remembered watching his wife shriek and thump her fists on her chest and this family had about 10 children to feed.

From “Walking in the wood – Part 1″ on Janet’s Notebook

The man’s disappearance caused a stir in our little village. He vanished at a time when communism was still a taboo in Malaysia. Today I heard that Malaysia communist guerrilla Chin Peng 陈平 died in exile in Bangkok, aged 88. Chin Peng represented an era of conflicts of ideas, brutal guerilla wars, and peace in Malaya (later Malaysia), and the news of his death suddenly transported me back to the very scene when I saw my neighbour’s world collapsed. Continue reading

Making mistakes

Twelve years ago, I burst into tears in my driving instructor’s car. No student had ever cried in his car before in his 35-year driving career.

Learning to drive in the UK -- image by Bill Abbott via Flickr

Learning to drive in the UK — image by Bill Abbott via Flickr

He drove me home as I wasn’t safe on the road with a blurred vision. He was still confused about my tears. “Did I upset you? What made you cry, Janet?” He spoke very gently.

Actually, I was shocked by my own tears too. I had struggled a lot, yet I continued to make mistakes, and he told me off rightly for making dangerous mistakes. Understanding English instructions when driving was very difficult for me. It took me longer to process his instructions. I normally understand academic English fine, but informal phrasal verbs often confuse me: “pull over the car; pull out the car”, or warnings such as a ‘sleeping policeman’. Continue reading

My Site Table of Contents – I did it!

This page is updated regularly. Old posts have been deleted. Posts are re-organised. 

For the most up-to-date Table of Contents, visit this page.

I’ve taken up Lorelle’s huge challenge, Blog Exercises: Organise Your Content, to organise all my posts on this blog. I’ll explain in my next post the sweat, tear, and joy of completing this task. I’m keen to find out what you think of the outcome. Would you like to try organising your site too?

This task is never going to be perfect, but I’m willing to show you my attempts, my progress, or my failure.

Site Table of Contents

This Site Table of Contents is a microscopic view of my 195 blog posts published on Janet’s Notebook from 5 April 2012 till 27 July 2013.

It covers stories of my life before the UK and my life after living in the UK since 1996. It covers my hobbies, my identity, and my thoughts on history, language and cross cultures.

It depicts my life in the south of England, my family with a son with pets, my local community, and my moments of glory and sadness.

It also reflects my love affairs with WordPress, and how my life has been enriched and transformed with WordPress through this brilliantly supportive and engaging community. Continue reading