Tag Archives: Chinese

Story of a British veteran’s Pingat Jasa medal from Malaysia

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.”

From the comment by Ruby on 20 September 2013.

This comment was too good to believe for any blogger. With Ruby’s help, now I’ve got an intriguing story from a British veteran who served in Malaya in 1955. 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

12 Reasons Why You Need Lorelle’s Blog Exercises for Your Blog

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

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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

Born as an outsider

Image by Viewminder via Flickr

Image by Viewminder via Flickr

I was born an outsider.

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

Oriental and western views on postnatal confinement

Private Eye: Woman has baby

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