Last Thursday (19th February 2015), Chinese people around the world celebrated The Year of the Sheep. Traditionally Chinese New Year is a period of 15 days, so it is still a time of celebration today.
However I live in England, and Chinese New Year seems to have lost its charm on me. Many of my English calendars don’t even mark Chinese New Year as an event. I must admit in the past I sometimes forgot that new year had arrived until I was asked, “Er, is this the year of the…?” Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
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
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 →