Chip, The Blue-Chip

When I think of excellence, absolute reliability, top shelf quality or highly prized assets, the word that comes to my mind is blue-chip. Throughout my life, I have come across very few examples of that. In real estate, I was lucky to purchase one such awesome property on the final morning of a rushed three days in Brisbane, where The Mrs and I left our mid-teenage sons to pursue their tertiary education. The waterfront villa along the Brisbane River in Kangaroo Point went for a song in a very depressed market, such was my astute negotiation skills against a rather desperate Singapore-based seller. In the sharemarket many moons ago, I was also lucky to acquire some BHP and Oxiana shares, both true-blue Aussie blue-chip mining companies, with all that mineral wealth in the ground for them to dig in perpetuity. Before the reader gets too excited, I have long divested all of my blue-chip investments, such was the topsy-turvy economic cycles we lived in. There is of course, one other who belongs in the blue-chip category. The perspicacious fellow is my good friend Chip. His general knowledge is astounding and often mesmerising. He has the strange ability to discern what most others don’t and to understand what escapes most. I am proud to say that he is perhaps even more blue-chip than we first met in 1965.

When I was reading The Water Margin, a hero by the name of Hua Rong pricked my interest. He was ranked fifth leader in the brotherhood and put in charge of supplies such as food, ammunition and other important provisions without which, the whole gang would have disintegrated. He was their quartermaster, in other words. Chip’s reputation in school was that he was the quartermaster of our troop of Boy Scouts. The success of a Coronation Camp was measured by the quality of the activities, the attendance of beautiful Girl Guides and the quality and adequacy of the food and drinks. The latter criterion was under Chip’s domain. I still hold fond memories of Chip and a few other close friends chopping down 30-foot high bamboo trees alongside the turgid and fast-flowing river behind my parents’ old house at Scotland Close. This was in preparation for building tents for the camp. We transferred them to the campsite about an hour’s ride away, one at a time, tied to two bikes one behind the other about 15 feet apart. Hua Rong was known as “The general with the uncanny arm,” such was his remarkable accuracy with the bow and arrow. He convinced the leader of the outlaws his archery skills were no fluke when he brought down the third bird from a column of flying geese with an arrow through its head as he announced he would. Chip may not have an uncanny arm – I know that because he did not destroy me in the tennis court last Boxing Day – but he does have an uncanny ability to read the ‘mood’ of the brothers and to smooth any ruffled feathers before they became rumbustious. You will never witness Chip annoying anyone or becoming a target for ridicule or scorn. He is much too aware of his surroundings and perceptive of potential discord. Chip does not have Hua Rong’s thin waist and overly broad shoulders but he is as handsome-looking with healthy red lips and somewhat stained teeth from his love for the daily ‘short black’. There is an old saying that a person who is guarded about his privacy ‘holds his teeth very closely to this lips’. So, I was a little surprised that Chip agreed for me to write his story. It is a compelling one to share and I hope young readers will find it inspirational.

Chip grew up in a tough neighbourhood where gangsters and triads roamed the streets after dark. His house was in Third Street, a stone’s throw from the infamous street ‘Chit Teow Lor’ or Seventh Street. “Were you ever beaten up?” I asked. “No, we felt safe as they left us alone.They saw us as their neighbours,” he said. “Did they try to recruit you?” I asked. Chip did not answer my question but he said, “I knew where they hid their guns and parangs (Malay word for machetes) – under drain covers, in stacks of firewood piled in the back lanes. I would peer through my bedroom window’s wooden plantation blinds and witness gang fights”. It stuck in my mind that despite his growing up in rough and violent surroundings, being saturated with daily vulgar words from neighbourhood kids, Chip has maintained a gentlemanly charm throughout. I have not once witnessed any vituperation from him. Chip’s childhood days were happy and carefree – running in the back lanes, playing open-air badminton with neighbours and catching guppies in monsoon drains. His inquisitive mind was not bound by school rules and it meant school homework was not a priority for the young Chip. It was not surprising that he was never in the same classes that the elite boys and semi-elites attended. Although we were in the same school from Standard One right through to Fifth Form, I knew Chip only because we were cubs and scouts. I did not have to see his report cards to know his academic results were poor. “Did your dad spank you when asked to sign them?” I annoyingly asked. “Papa’s favourite remark was ‘you can do better’,” Chip replied.

Childhood days were mostly difficult days. “But papa unfailingly ensured that there was food on the table…….though he was seldom at the table with us when we had our meals,” Chip informed me his dad was always busy at work. “Papa brought home bundles and bundles of vegetables every day….. alas, most were rotten and after the usual big effort, mama would manage to salvage enough to barely fill a plate”. Even though his father was a vegetable seller in the market, Chip’s family never enjoyed the best and the freshest vegetables at home. Chip’s dad arrived in Malaya from Houxi, in Jimei District, Xiamen municipality, at age three. The year was 1927. “Papa was brought over by his grandfather,” that was how Chip started his story. Papa’s grandfather was helped by clansmen upon his arrival in the new country and found work in Sia Boey Market. When he was ten years old, papa’s school life at Sum Min School ended. He had to work in Prangin Market to help his grandfather make ends meet. Three years later, he would be all alone in the world – his grandfather perished as a statistic of the Japanese bombing whilst working in the market. At the age of 16, the boy became his own boss when he opened his own stall at the market. After two years of steady income, the young business owner married a gorgeous girl he had eyed for awhile. It was during the Japanese occupation, an era when single ladies were married off no matter how young to avoid the hungry eyes of the Japanese soldiers.

“My father also had a skirmish with the Japanese soldiers,” Chip continued. 

“He was 18 or 19 then……he had just married my mother”.

“He was on his way home from the market when the Japanese soldiers rounded him up and herded him up a truck”.

“A Taiwanese lady who knew my father witnessed his arrest and without a thought for her own safety, boldly walked over to the soldiers pleading for his release”.

“This lady spoke Japanese and calmly lied to them that my father was her son”.

“If not for her, I wouldn’t exist,” Chip said with hands placed together in prayer.

Papa was forever grateful to the Taiwanese woman, and called her ‘mother’ from then on. His own parents finally reunited with him in Penang in 1937. It was an awfully long ten years for the boy, growing up without his parents. But, a short four years later, his father returned to China leaving his mother with him. It makes sense now that Chip says he had two paternal grandmothers. “My (real) grandma was very likely from a wealthy family – she was a ‘bind feet lady’….. can you imagine how a lady with bind feet lived in Penang during the war?” Chip asked. “My ma had to serve her day and night, such were the demands from an incapacitated mother-in-law”. I detected a newfound pride in his voice for his mother. Chip’s family tried to track down their grandfather in China a few years ago. But they drew a blank. An old-timer said to them, “He left, came back and disappeared again soon after”.

Family photo, 1969

13 May 1969. “We had a curfew in place, if you remember. I witnessed the clashes between the police and the triads. I experienced the acrid smell of tear gas which was used crowd control measure. Post 13 May, there was an obvious change in the neighbourhood landscape …… a sudden disappearance of certain neighbours….”.

“I was told that they were triad members and had been arrested and ‘buang’ (Malay word for expelled) to another town”.

“So, was life quieter? More peaceful?” I asked naively.

“No, a new wave of crime descended …… drugs! I witnessed sachets of heroin exchanging hands in broad daylight. As we walked along the five-foot-way to the local provision shop (chai tiam mah), we could see sachets hidden in cracks of walls, under pot plants, etc”. It was beginning to be obvious to me that kids who grow up in rough neighbourhoods do not become feckless later in life. If you were weak, you were dead. Schools and colleges are places that hopefully make us smart. But it is the streets that teach us to be street smart. Chip has been the one who knows to read his surroundings quickly. He is a true master at reading people too. He enjoys the benefit of knowing he can trust his personal judgements of characters and situations.

“We could smell the alluring scent of opium they were smoking, as we walked through the zinc sheds at Chulia Street towards Penang Road on the way to school,” a friend chimed in.

“No wonder you found excuses to walk the back lanes of Presgrave and Tye Sin streets, the sweet smells from the opium dens along there were no secret,” I added.

Visits to the chai tiam mah were happy moments for Chip. “Mama would say “go get rice or sugar or salt” and I would run up the five-foot-way without detours to the shop and buy the provisions obediently”.

“Why happy moments?” I asked, expecting him to share secrets of a crush on the lanky shop-owner’s daughter whose beautiful deep-set eyes were perfectly matched with a long pig-tail and mysteriously soft fair-toned mounds on her chest.

“The uncle will reward me with a lolly!” shouted Chip, who was innocently unaware of how boring his answer was to me.

 Friends are important – they make you or break you.

Yeoh Chip Beng

To this day, Chip does not remember how he was sent to Sydney to further his education. Like many others, he had to stay back a year after his dismal results in the M.C.E. I was not aware many of my friends had to suffer the ignominy of attending Upper Fifth Form. In truth, it was not really an embarrassment to repeat Form 5, many failed because of the Malay language test. Chip finally grew up, in his first year in Sydney. He surrounded himself with the right people whose focus was to leave home, get to Australia, have that free education, gain some life experiences and go home as a successful graduate, and live happily ever after. For most students from Malaysia, money was tight. Chip was no different. “We do not have to be poor forever,” we reminded each other.

It was a no-brainer that he would join me and another childhood school friend as flatmates. We found a flat in a brown building sitting high on a hillock in Kensington, a mere half-hour’s walk to the university. Chip was our Hua Rong in the small brotherhood – imaginative, resourceful and a great cook! Reaching home at 3pm was a daily thrill for me. I would rush up the long flight of stone steps and head straight to the rear of the building pass the rusty Hills hoist from which would hang uncollected for days, racy undies and lacy bras. I used to wonder what the owner looked like. Chip would be visible through the kitchen window. “Chip!” I would yell out happily as I got into the kitchen from the laundry room door. Chip would turn around, with his signature grin complete with perspiration on his forehead. “Fried rice?!” I asked enthusiastically one afternoon. It surely was. Chip’s fried rice was special before the Chinese restaurants called theirs Special Fried Rice. Three eggs, Birds Eye frozen peas and sweet corn, and a hint of tomato sauce. Our weekly allowance was meagre, the rent represented 80% of my earnings as a waiter. Our food bill was limited by whatever savings I had left. Chip was in the same boat. The other flatmate came from a rich family, so he was able to supplement his meals in the uni cafeteria and in his favourite American burger outlet. My lunch was standard and never varied. One peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich and a 125ml carton of wholesome milk. Some uni friends called me and the other flatmate ‘The Fat and The Thin’- there is no need to guess who ‘The Thin’ was.

We celebrated Chip’s 21st birthday in our Silver Street flat in Randwick. We moved there from Kensington after we had our 24-inch Panasonic TV and my pride and joy, a 10-speed bicycle, stolen. It was a small party without booze (unaffordable) and girls (also unaffordable). We did not dress up for the occasion and we cut one another’s hair in the vain hope that we would look presentable in the photos. No photos will be presented here, unfortunately. Chip understood we would turn up without presents – we were poor students on our own, without any financial backing from home. But, Chip cooked up a storm. It was one of the best meals I had in years. The finale was a big wok of birthday noodles impressively garnished with yellow egg strips and red egg strips. He did it all himself, is that not simply incredible? Every birthday ought to be celebrated with noodles with red egg strips, a Chinese tradition that has virtually died here.

Chip’s birthday noodles
Boyhood pals, from Penang to George Street, Sydney in 1979.

Chip surprised himself that he did amazingly well academically – the first year results were beyond his expectations. Distinctions and High Distinctions became the norm even in his second year. His excellent results got him invited to the Honours programme in UNSW. He was tempted and wanted to stay the extra year in Sydney. Money was tight at home but he could struggle through another year, he reasoned. But the decision was made for him. A prestigious Big 7 audit firm offered him a job in Singapore and that was that. No further discussions were entertained. It was fatuous to argue otherwise. This street kid from yonder was heading to Singapore and entering the world of international banking and high finance.

Chip with his lovely wife, a symbol of international success.

During a recent visit to Chip’s home which nestles in the lush green hillside above Penfold’s Winery, I looked at him admiringly from a distant whilst he was busily serving his signature Ribeye filet. It was as usual, the epitome of a perfect steak only Chip amongst us, can master. It crossed my mind that he had every reason to be house-proud. A man’s home is his castle. Chip’s castle is beautifully designed and tastefully decorated. The sprawling garden is well maintained and showcases Adelaide’s skyline and the distant shoreline in the west. No matter how he dismisses the quality of his castle in the blue-ribbon suburb, a casual visitor cannot miss the banner that spells success. There he was, carving the steak in his kitchen, yet the vision I had of him was that of a grand old master of the corporate world, a retired Finance Director of a famous public company based in Sydney, and a retired acting chairman of another publicly listed company in Melbourne. How did he get to the top of the echelon of the predominantly white club? Today’s modern women push for more gender equality in the corporate world, demanding more leadership positions for women. Yet, it is the bamboo ceiling that is a lot harder to break for Asians in Australia. Where 9.6% of the community has an Asian background, a paltry 1.9% of executive managers has Asian origins. Chip from Third Street, Penang achieved what most say is only for the dreamer. He did it without fanfare and none of the pomposity that often is packaged with glittering success. He did it against all odds, arising from a background that was fragile, frugal, dismal and bleak. I have no hesitation in including Chip, a most worthy man, to the brotherhood alongside Blue Eyes, Wu Yong, Four Eyes, The Cook, Lord Guan and Typhoon.

The best Ribeye that would tantalise any steak lover.

Portrait of Yeoh Chip Beng & Ai Poh by Anne Koh.

Mum About Mum III

It was just before the pendulum clock struck three times. Outside it was pitch-black, the angry wind was a welcome guest as it forced its way into their stuffy, sweltering room via the wooden slats of the window louvres. Ma changed her position, and now faced away from Pa. All passion spent over an hour ago, he snored especially loudly after having satisfied himself inside her. She was relieved that his fire had been quelled, otherwise his restlessness and sulking would have spoiled another good night’s sleep. Ma was never taught the joy of sex. Brought up to respect proper decorum and propriety, in today’s vernacular, she would be easily classified as a prude. Sex was for procreation, not for recreation. Besides, their circumstances were so unsettled. They had not yet moved into their new rented shop in Bishop Street when the Japanese dropped their bombs from the sky. The front of the shop was destroyed. The glass display window the glazier had sealed the day before was completely shattered; its replacement was a wooden hoarding to deter would-be thieves from helping themselves to their meagre belongings. They left Teluk Anson with just a small bag of clothes each. Their prized possession, a cheap Japanese bicycle, was chained inside the shop. It had been a while since their last outing at the movies. After they were married in Teluk Anson, Ma’s favourite pastime was her Saturday bicycle rides as a pillion rider to town for movies with her handsome husband. It was said the 1930’s was ‘the age of the bicycle’ for it brought unimagined freedom to the young girls. There was nothing else worth stealing, except for the annoying striking clock that chimed the hours loudly and once every half hourly. Ma stirred from the timber floor. Her bath towel served as the mattress. Pa’s was crumpled and almost completely hidden under his long legs. He was a messy sleeper, even the face towel to catch his drool was missing from his pillow. They had an endearment for each other. Ma called him by his name one day, but he did not respond. So, she called out again, “Hey! Ngeh-doh. Blockhead!” That time, Pa answered, “What is it? Ngeh-doh?” Ever since then, they never stopped calling each other that. After she had straightened Pa’s face towel back onto his pillow, Ma carefully closed her paper and wood hand fan, a parting gift from her mother when she visited to say her goodbyes. Beautifully hand painted in water-colour, the red and pink roses on a greenish paper seemed to throw a floral fragrance whenever she waved them to cool herself. His was a scented one, made of thin slats of dark-stained bamboo with intricate carvings, riveted together at the pivot point, and tied together at their far ends with cotton thread.

“You didn’t have a mattress?” I asked Ma incredulously. At least The Mrs and I were able to join our single bed mattresses together when we got married. “No, the only furniture we had was a square wooden dining table and four stools.” Ma, ever one to demonstrate frugality oneupmanship, laughed, happy to have reminded me of what “tough life” really means. Her facial expression then turned serious, maybe even sad. “And then, our lives were turned upside down.” she continued with her story. It was a Monday, March 23rd 1942. The two Kenpeitai men crashed through the venetian louvres, and were immediately on top of Pa. Pa did not even have time to rise to his feet as they pummelled his body like a punching bag. Ma could not describe much else. Before she froze like a stunned mullet, she had turned away from the violence, facing the wall. Too scared to look and maybe even more scared to be seen by the Japanese secret police; their reputation as notorious as the Nazi SS paramilitary. By the time she breathed again, they had hauled her Ngeh-doh away. Li Tong, the owner of the small oriental arts and souvenir shop next door, was also rounded up. He was sleeping in the second bedroom, a sub-tenant of the entrepreneurial Pa. The whole house became eerily quiet, even the angry wind had retreated, disappearing into the dark night. Every light in the house had been turned on by the Japanese as they hunted for men to catch. Each light was by today’s standard unbearably dim, no more than 15W. A less frequently used room such as the outside toilet was equipped with a 5W globe, so weak it threw a reddish glow. It was Pa’s instruction never to turn on the lights at night. “A brightly lit house will attract the attention of the Japanese”, he had advised Ma. He did not need to explain that it was also a good way to save money. Since the Imperial Army’s bicycle infantry replaced the fleeing British regiment in Penang, they had formed the habit of using candle for light.

The next day, Li Tong returned. He was almost unrecognisable with dirt-caked dishevelled hair, his singlet torn and bloodied, his face riddled with cigarette burns – all telltale signs that he was tortured. He was lucky. Released after only one night of interrogation, he was thankful to be alive. “Quick! Cook some rice porridge for your husband. Bring his pyjamas also. He is being held indefinitely.” Ma rushed to the back of the house and chundered a load into the drain, but so far, she had not shed a single tear.

After the meek withdrawal of the British on the 17th December 1941, the Japanese occupied Penang just three days later. In the early days of occupation, the Japanese used a soft, gloved approach to win over the civilians; the friendly and fair treatment of local businesses was to promote the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. This was an objective to bring South East Asian countries together as a new bloc, sharing peace and prosperity under the umbrella of a benevolent Japan. After the fall of Singapore thirty five days earlier, the Kenpeitai was sent to Penang, by then renamed as Tojo To. This show of force was a marked change from the earlier strategy of cooperation. The 2nd field Kenpeitai under Lt General Oishi Masayuki was especially brutal, and gained notoriety for their fierce and cruel methods of subjugating the local Chinese populace. They embarked on a number of Sook Ching massacres to instil fear amongst the ethnic Chinese. Before the Kenpeitai’s arrival, life under Japanese occupation was still almost normal for many. The earlier gloved treatment of the town folk saw the return of many who had run away to hide up in Penang Hill and in the countryside.

“We had $60 left when the first bomb fell. Ngeh-doh knew his business was finished before it even started.” Ma continued with her story.

“History books said the citizens suffered great upheaval, repression and massive food shortages. Is it true, Ma?” I asked.

“We were so poor, it made little difference then.” Ma said. Breakfast was plain rice porridge enhanced with a dab of Shanghainese fermented tofu. Lunch and dinner had the same set menu. Plain rice and a plate of green vegetables. The vegetables cost two cents. “A local farmer delivers them each morning, ringing his bicycle bell as he rides past the street before nine a.m.” With their brand new shopfront substantially damaged, Ma resorted to selling cigarettes from the ‘Goh-kha-ki’ or five-foot way, in front of their rented house. Two sticks of cigarettes sold in a morning represented a good day. The profit was the equivalent of the day’s supply of vegetables, i.e. two cents. She hardly saw the Imperial soldiers, they did not patrol that side of town. They were housed in Minden Barracks, in Gelugor, quite a distance south of Georgetown. On the rare occasion that she walked past a Japanese soldier on the street, she just had to remember to bow to him. Those who forgot to bow or refused to, would cop a beating, or were killed sometimes. Apart from rice, the other expensive item was firewood used for cooking. A bundle of a hundred sticks cost $1.10. To save on that, she would shave the wood into thin pieces to avoid unnecessary burning.

The Wesley Methodist Church on Burma Road was where the Japanese housed those rounded up by the Kenpeitai. The brutal military police used it as their head office initially, but soon converted it to a holding base for interrogation and torture. Ma got there in the late morning, the task of lighting a fire to cook the porridge took a bigger effort than usual. Raining tears and nasal mucus, her grief finally overwhelmed her. She arrived on her bicycle at the front garden of the church and was met by a Sikh guard.

“No, no food allowed!” the guard roared as he commandeered Pa’s lunch. He was kind though, advising Ma to make her way to the rear side of the boundary. A little rise on the land offered her a vantage point from which to catch the occasional glimpse of her man. For twelve days, she would be there on the same spot. Her heart would soar if he appeared in the compound. Hunched, filthy and weak, Pa trudged weakly in small steps. from one end to the other. It must be life-giving, to be out in the warmth of the sun. What she could not see, she heard in loud decibels. The distance could not hide the screams and cries for help from inside the church. A trishaw puller went up to Ma and consoled her. “Your husband is in there?” he surmised. “Do not worry. He will be alright. Colonel Watanabe is not like the rest of the Kenpeitais. He does not execute the prisoners for fun.” The Kenpeitais tortured and beheaded whomever they disliked; whomever suspected of being anti-Japanese or a communist and whomever they deemed as lacking subservience through failure to pay obeisance. Pa’s crime was that he was seen playing a game of Chinese chess at the roadside, with a Chinese bloke the day before his arrest. The man was suspected of being a communist sympathiser, and was duly rounded up with about fifty others. A hooded informant pointed him out to the Kenpeitai on the padang at Fort Cornwallis and he was immediately beheaded. That same night, they came for Pa.

On the thirteenth day, April 5th, Pa did not make his usual brief appearance. The few scrawny men sunning in the compound had returned to the dark recesses of the church building. After almost like an eternity, Ma’s ashen face broke into a contorted grimace of sorrow. Her shuddering bony frame collapsed into a sobbing heap at the feet of a stranger next to her. “He is gone. Oh no, he is gone.” she wailed. She rushed back to the front gates where the same Sikh guard who had enjoyed Pa’s porridge was standing motionless. “Abang, can you tell me where my husband is?” she pleaded desperately. “I do not know who your husband is, but try the Penang Gaol. A few prisoners were sent there today.” He failed to disclose there was also another truck that morning which took some men to either Air Itam or Batu Ferringhi, places where many Sook Ching massacres took place. According to Lee Kuan Yew, some 50,000 to 100,000 men were massacred during the Sook Ching. These “purge to cleanse” campaigns were carried out by the Kenpeitai units to indiscriminately torture and kill anyone guilty or suspected of anti-Japanese sentiments. Penang’s wartime records show that some 5,000 men, mostly Chinese, were incriminated by hooded informants in various collection spots and transported to Penang Gaol on April 5, 1942. That was the day that Pa was trucked to the same prison from Wesley Church. Very few of these men were released, most died from cholera or malnutrition in the over-crowded cells or from beheadings in the secluded locations. Those rounded up were either anti-Japanese, communists, students, educators (intellectuals) or the unlucky ones like Pa, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Whilst in prison, Pa befriended three men. Haji was a Malay fellow who was eventually released. The Japanese were a lot kinder to the Malays who they viewed as easier to win over with the promise of being freed from colonial rule. The second man, a P.E. teacher was a nephew of a rich car dealer in Prai. He did not survive, for he found the daily portions of half-cooked rice inedible, and gave them to Pa instead. The third was a boy student of Chung Ling High School, from Hat Yai. Pa saved his life.

Pa was released on April 20th. Actually, he escaped, with just his skin and bones. Very late on the previous night, his name was called out. “Goh Chan Chee! Goh Chan Chee!” the impatient voice bellowed in the prison corridor. That was Pa’s name in the Hokkien dialect. Whilst delirious with fever and mentally fatigued from the unending interrogations, he still had the presence of mind to decide his name would be Wu Zeng Zhi, in Mandarin. It was not a friendly roll call. The voice that hollered his name was impatient and stern, and it was very late at night, nothing good could be got from that. It was more likely a call to join those to be trucked out to an isolated beach somewhere. The next morning, two long queues were being organised by the prison guards. One was much longer than the other. The shorter one had men who looked less stressed, less beaten up. Pa decided he was in the wrong queue. When an important Japanese official arrived and the distracted guards stood to attention, Pa took a few steps to his right and joined the shorter queue. He gestured for the Hat Yai boy to copy him. The boy did not hesitate. To their delight, they soon found themselves lifted up to a lorry for immediate release. To Ma’s delight, the Indian tailor who was renting the front of their shop croaked out the happiest shriek. “He’s in the trishaw! He’s here!” Weakened by cholera and malnourished after 28 days, Pa stumbled into his home, in the safe arms of the Indian man. Pa refused to elaborate on that period of his life. He divulged little and never returned to visit Wesley Church or stepped near Penang Gaol. His story about those 28 days was consigned to the darkness of history. Pa, lest we forget. This is my contribution.

Ma, many years after the war.
Pa, in better times after the war.