Friday, December 20, 2013

Very important guest

I was very very lucky. I was there at the right place and right time. Friends asked how I got a Government Minister to be my guest of honour. 
Photo: Proud of you, Ann
With YB Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh  at Ann Chin's Book Launch at RH Hotel today.

Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh offered to be my VVIP guest. I wrote to him, as his student if the Government had funding to aspiring writers, and the rest is history. He was proud to be my teacher, and I had done him proud.

Francis Chen very happily helped me with the logistics and my Chinese MC. When my Malay and English MC couldn't make it, John Benet stepped it.

Who could dream that my book launch was such a Ministerial affair and my own clan people organising it. Thank you Mr. Kong Tze Ling.

Proud of you, Ann
With YB Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh at Ann Chin's Book Launch at RH Hotel today. — with Ann Chin.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Father's instruction to return to China.

Before Father died, he left written instruction and directions for us if we decided to return home to Hui Veng, Kwang Zhou in China.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ABC Wednesday: V for Veterans.


A veteran (from Latin vetus, meaning "old") is a person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field; 

These veterans come every wednesday to study English. They inspire me. I also remember my Mum attending ESOL classes when she went to Australia as a veteran.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Father in Post War Singapore.

:Gate of the former Bidadari Cemetery, Bidadari Garden, Singapore - 20121008-04.jpg

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Father spent two years in Singapore. He became a boarder at the Malayan Seminary ran by the Seven Day Adventist Church. It was the Youngberg Memorial Hospital[1]. The Seven Day Adventist is a vegetarian Institution. In the weekend, he went to Mou Ping’s shop and ate as though he had been starved. He gave his cousins tuition.
The boys in the boarding school found on the bottom of the desk, POWS from Australia and New Zealand had craved their names and addresses. They asked who ever found these addresses to please contact their family. The boys had some fun trying to contact these addresses, but many did not reply. Many were sad stories that their loved ones did not made it home.

Across was the Bidadari cemetery. The senior boys showed him to scrap the candles and a man would collect them in exchange of money. At first Father felt eerie, it was like stealing from the dead, but his friends were doing it, so he joined in. He made many friends from Sibu. They remained their lifelong friends. Among them were Lim and his wife. We just called them Uncle and Aunt Longhouse because they had a crafts and photo shop.

There were the Goh girls and Chang Tai Kong who later had children our age. He made friends from Burma too.

[1] It is still in Singapore at Upper Serangoon Road.

Bidadari Cemetery was a multi-religious burial ground opened on 1 January 1908. It was located at the junction of Upper Serangoon Road and Upper Aljunied road.
Bidadari Cemetery was a multi-religious burial ground opened on 1 January 1908. It was located at the junction of Upper Serangoon Road and Upper Aljunied road, and derived its name from the wife of Maharaja Abu Bakar of Johor, whose istana had stood there.[9] The word “bidadari” is itself derived from the Sanskrit word “widyadari”, which literally means ‘nymph’ or ‘fairy’.
The cemetery contained burial sites for several religions and races, including Roman Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Hindus. When it was opened, the Roman Catholic and Protestant sections also each had their own chapel. The cemetery was also used for military burials, and was the resting place for a number of prominent individuals. One of these was the English sailor Augustus Podmore Williams, upon whose life Joseph Conrad based his novel Lord Jim.
Bidadari Cemetery was closed in 1973, and was then slated, in the Singapore government’s 1998 Master Plan, to be cleared to make way for the development of public housing and other facilities. In December 2001, the Housing Development Board began exhumation of the estimated 143,000 graves found in the cemetery. Exhumation was completed by the end of 2006, and the cremated remains from the exhumed were placed to rest at the Choa Chu Kang Columbarium. Due to religious reasons, the exhumed remains from Muslim graves could not be cremated, and were reinterred at Pusara Abadi Muslim Cemetery at Choa Chu Kang. The cemetery was thus cleared to make way for the development of a road interchange at the junction of Bartley Road and Braddell Road, and for the construction of the Woodleigh MRT Station situated along the North-East MRT Line.
Bidadari Garden, approximately 1,746.6 square metres, was then established at Vernon Park to commemorate 20 people who were considered important to Singapore's history, and who had been interred at Bidadari Cemetery.[10] They include doctor and philanthropist Lim Boon Keng, Ahmad Ibrahim, and R. A. J. Bidwell–the architect who had designed the Raffles Hotel, Goodwood Park Hotel, and Chesed-El Synagogue. The old gates of the Bidadari Cemetery, which bore the lion emblem of the Singapore Municipal Council, were then placed at the entrance of Bidadari Garden.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Supportive friend Dr Wong Chee Liang.


Dear Friends,

I am sending out a copy of an article that appeared in The Borneo 
Post on 1st December 2013, featuring our classmate Ann Chan Kit Suet 
and her books.

Best regards,

Wong Chee Liang

It is great to have supportive friends and classmate. Dr Wong Chee Liang is a very successful heart surgeon. He always have time for me when I visit Kuching.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Father the interpreter.

Part of the record-breaking drugs haul. Photo / Richard Robinson

Father  was adept in languages, in his work, he had to meet with people from all languages and dialects. He learned the National Language of Malaysia in his late stage of his career.

When he went to Australia, he worked as an interpreter for the judiciary. He told me this scenario. A Vietnamese was arrested as a mule. The guy told Dad in Cantonese that he wasn't confessing anything. If he did, the drug boss would send some one jailed for petty crime to finish him of.

I was disappointed with the write-up today. Thise caught came from China and Malaysia. Gives us a bad name.

A man "entrenched in the top tier" of an organised criminal syndicate was among those arrested in a record-breaking $120 million drugs bust and denied bail, a court has heard.
More than 330kg of the Class-B drug pseudoephedrine was seized in Operation Ghost which police say is enough to produce $100 million of methamphetamine.
The haul is the largest of its kind in New Zealand and the drugs, a cold and flu medicine known as Contac NT, which is legal in China, are believed to have been smuggled through the borders in a shipping container.
Homes, cars and cash worth up to $20 million were also seized as the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (Ofcanz) led raids on 40 properties in Auckland and the Waikato.
Most of the 24 people arrested yesterday as a result of the 18-month investigation appeared in the Manukau District Court at the same time as the police held a press conference at the nearby Ofcanz headquarters.
Interpreters for the Mandarin, Cantonese and Korean languages were needed, although all of the accused are permanent residents or citizens of New Zealand.

Firecrackers: Dad comes home from England 1958

Photos: Tang Liing Yiew and ling sui Chung, during their second son's wedding.

When Father returned from England, in Singapore, Granduncle Mou Ping bought a long chain of fire crackers to celebrate Father's success.

In Sibu, Grandpa's friend bought the biggest firecracker, and the kids lit small ones.

It was like war zone, Boom Boom Boom , went the big cracker, bang bang bang, went the little cracker. No wonder, the Malaysian and Singapore governments banned them.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Save the world, my home town

As a member of the zero waste, one of my pet peeve is the styrofoam  takeaway boxes. In New Zealand, they tried an alternative with boxes made of potato.

My home town Sibu has taken the initiative to ban these boxes, and introducing paper boxes. It appears despite the cost, hawkers have accepting before the implimentation day.

Read this article by
Raymond Tan Chok Hui


Samuel planted the pumpkin vine and he got two pumpkins. Not bad for a first time gardener. The bigger one was actually the second one that grew. I took it to school, and the kids had fun enacting Cinderella. I gave the other one to my friend.

Friends don't understand why I don't eat pumpkin. To simplify my otherwise length explanation, mum and dad were children of the war. They had pumpkins, yam/taro, sweet potato/kumara and tapioca everyday, boiled without salt or oil. 4 years of war on this diet was enough to put one off for the rest of their life.

When I was in the car to primary school, we drove passed barges laden with pumpkins. Dad said," Pumpkins are for pigs."

This is why I don't eat pumpkins.

Fiat S899 2

In 1962, Father got another promotion. He became a Group Supervisor of schools in the Education Department. He was now in charge of schools, teachers, principals and anything connected with Education. One of his job descriptions had a connection to our old Fiat. Father gave oral English tests to anyone wanting to be a policeman. They had to pass this examination to qualify. So every policeman in Sibu knew him as Tuan (big boss). Many of them had to be tested many times as it was not easy for a Primary Six holder, usually Malays or Ibans to hold a conversation in the Queen’s English. You can imagine us swelling with pride when a policeman greeted him Tuan while we were in the car. Father was even the boss of the policeman. One day, Mother was driving along the Kampong Nybor Road near the Mosque, she had a slight accident. The situation is a bit difficult to comprehend. She was passing a parked lorry. As she was passing, the lorry started moving. Our Old Fiat’s hind bumper hooked on to the lorry’s bumper and pulled it off. The lorry driver, a Heng Hua man got out and started to be fierce. He was trying to intimidate my less than five foot Mother. She was afraid he was going to hum dum (beat her up) because he was waving his hands to her face. The police came and saw it was Mrs. Tuan, and saluted. The lorry driver realized that this might be a VIP woman and became less aggressive. He admitted he started his truck only after Mother was passing him. The case was closed. Mother came home victorious. We added another Heng Hua in our list of hated people. We laughed how our tiny Fiat became a tank, and the lorry was no match for him. It was like David and Goliath twice over, the fiat and the lorry, my tiny mum and big Heng Hua man. The old Fiat started to get old. It was a very rare model; parts were difficult to come by. We had to wait for the garage to ship them from Singapore. Pushing it to start was getting a more and more frequent event. Mother knew more about cars than Dad. I started to hate the car.

Fiat S899 Part 1

Our first car was a Fiat, and the license plate was S899. S stood for Sibu, and 899 meant it was the 899th car in Sibu. Margaret liked the number so much that for one of her cars, she bid for the same number. To the Chinese, 8 sounded like prosperous, 9 sounded like forever. 899[1] sounded prosperous forever and ever. Was that a good omen? We did not prosper financially, but we prospered in other aspects. The nine children who rode in the car have college or university degrees. Two have PhDs. Not many people could beat that.
We loved that car; it was a Fiat 1100 and had two tones in colour. The front seat was one entire seat across, not buckets ones like today’s cars. It suited us fine as there were so many children. On Saturdays, everyone except Mother would wash the car. Father was particular with the fabric we used. Old singlets were best as they did not scratch or leave behind any lint. We polished till it shone. We were happy washing because we were proud to be the only family in the neighbourhood to have a car.
That car was the only car I washed enthusiastically.  The subsequent cars, and my own cars, I never wash or care to wash. If I washed, I told my husband, I would wash them reluctantly. I only washed my first car.
With the car, it meant we had wheels. We went for short rides and we went for long rides. The airport was a favourite destination, Maybe, we all thought so nostalgic of when Father went and came back from London. We saw planes landing and taking off, there was no aerobridge then and we actually saw people going into the plane. (In 2004, we all went to Sibu for a reunion celebrating Father’s 81st birthday, when the rest of the entourage went by Boeing 707, and used the aerobridge, Henry and his family flew Fokker Friendship, so his children can experience the feeling of going into the aeroplane.)
We went into the nearly constructed Oya Road to the vast hinterland of Sibu, and had picnics, waddled in a beautiful lake and climbed the mountains. We now drove to Grandfather’s Chan and Kong’s house. It was no longer hours of noisy and smelly petrol travel by motor launch.
We drove up to Grandfather Kong’s house the day before the grand crossing so that we would be the first cars to be transported in such a big boat that carried cars. We were fascinated by the ferry at Durin near to Grandfather Kong’s house. We were so happy to be among her first passengers during her maiden crossing. We had to get off the cars when we were crossing the river.
Once, a car failed to board the ferry properly and it fell into the river. In a matter of minutes, the whole family drowned.  If I were in Sarawak, I would be the first in line to use the ferry on her swan song crossing in 21st October 2006. It was after all, so much part of my heritage.

[1]899 About our picnic sessions with sandwiches, cakes, biscuits and fruits in picnic basket in Oya Road, we all crammed into the S899 - We went during the weekends and had so many photographs taken. People said we were so angmoh-sai (Anglophile) We bought the number 899 for our Honda car and Father had nostalgic feeling towards that Honda. That is why we are still keeping that car. He had his secret number to his James Bond briefcase as 899. All our suitcases also followed that number *** Margaret