In the past two months, my blog was transformed into a Jungle Warfare zone for a brutal war that happened before I was born. My posts about Malayan Emergency from 1948-1960 since the death of the Communist guerrilla leader Chin Peng received interesting feedback. In How much was Chin Peng worth? my reader Ruby left this comment:
“My father fought in the Malaysian uprising (on the British side). Well, he spent his National Service in Singapore; not sure he did much actual fighting. He got a medal for it recently – from the Malaysian government.”
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 Teachers’ Day in Singapore is on the 6th of September this year. In China, since 1985, Teachers’ Day is on the 10th of September each year. Distinguished Chinese essayist and philosopher HAN Yu (韩愈) from the Tang dynasty explained the roles of a teacher in only six Chinese character, in his famous essay, “On the Teacher”（师说).
The roles of a teacher by HAN Yu, in my translation, are to
Guide students, show them the direction (传道, literally, spread the ‘Tao’).
Impart knowledge to students, to improve their abilities. (授业)
Resolve the students’ doubts. (解惑)
In my blogging existence, I follow the guidance from the best teacher, Lorelle. Since I’ve done 40 posts inspired by Lorelle, I would like to give you 12 reasons why you need Lorelle’s Blog Exercises for your blog. 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 →
I’m left-handed. It was a curse. In the 70s and the 80s, teachers never liked a left-hander, and left-handedness was a defect that any honourable teacher had to correct.
As a young child, I was scorned for writing with my left hand. Teachers cast me the scary look. A cane would rain down on me if I switched to use my left hand. My classmates were spies. They would receive rewards from the teachers if they reported to the teachers whenever they saw me writing with my left hand. Continue reading →
Private Eye on the royal birth: Woman has baby. Image by Duncan via Flickr
When I saw the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) beaming radiantly outside the hospital with her baby boy, George, just 27 hours after her birth, I felt slightly uncomfortable.
Strangely, I heard my mum’s voice ringing in my head: “Terrible! Why is she walking about? She should be lying in bed. Poor girl — oh no, she had washed her hair? Look! It’s so windy. The wind is so bad for her. What? She’s wearing high platform shoes? Not wearing socks? Good grief!”
What’s the one-month postnatal confinement?
Traditionally, Chinese women must observe a strict one-month postnatal confinement. Even now, a lot of modern and highly educated women still follow the tradition. Though there are regional varieties with the rituals and taboos about the confinement, the common taboos are as follows: Continue reading →