Author: CHUNG Yoon Ngan
Date: 01-10-12 23:40
My Family in the British Colonial Malaya - 1858 to 1960 (5)
108. An ambush in the mine - 1958
松下問童子,---Song xia4 wen4 tong2 zi3,
言師採藥去.---Yan2 shi cai3 yao4 qu4.
只在此山中,---Zhi zai4 ci3 shan zhong,
雲深不知處.---Yun2 shen bu4 zhi chu3.
I go up the mountain looking for a friend who lives in seclusion,
but he is not at home.
I go under the pine tree and ask a boy,
He replies that his master has gone to pick herbs.
The boy also says that his master is somewhere in this mountain
and his master would not go elsewhere,
But the cloud and mist is very thick in this mountain
and where to look for him.
A Tang Poem titled 尋隱者不遇---Xun2 yin3 zhe3 bu4 yu4"
By Gu Dao (賈島 788AD to 843AD)
The time was the beginning of 1958 and I was in Form Five, my last year
in high school. In December of that year I will be sitting for the Cambridge
Overseas School Certificate Examinations conducted by the Cambridge University
in England. The previous year seeing me got involved with the Min Yuen (民
運 or Masses Movement that supported the Hill People or Communists), Father
sent me to live in a friend's house in Ipoh so that he could concentrate
on my study preparing for my final examination at the end of the year without
fooling around in Pusing. Father bought me a bicycle and sent me to an English
tuition class in the morning since I was in the afternoon session. On Saturday
morning I had to attend science class for practical experiments. In the
afternoon when I was free I usually went to movie with my classmates and
played badminton in the late afternoon. On Sunday morning, after breakfast
I usually cycled back to Pusing. The next day, on Monday morning I would
cycle back to Ipoh to attend my English tuition class. It had been going
on like this for about a few months.
One Sunday morning, as usual, I cycled home. When I arrived home I was shocked
to see that none of the members my family was at home. I asked a neighbour
what had happened to my family. I was told that my third elder brother was
missing somewhere in the vicinity of the mine. Cycling as fast as I could,
I rushed to my father's tin mine which was about three kilometers from Pusing.
On arrival at the mine I saw many people, all Pusing folks, in Father's
mine and some of them were combing the area. There were even two policemen
helping in the search.
Before noon, suddenly there were many British and Malay soldiers appeared
from nowhere running and shouting, "Stop! Don't Run! Jangan lari!". I saw
two men running away and the soldiers were chasing them. The two men were
cornered near a muddy pond and they thought that it was an ordinary water
pond. They jumped in trying to swim to the other side of the pond. They
got stuck in the mud and were arrested by the soldiers. The soldiers told
the folks that the two men were the Hill People (Communists) and told the
people to go home.
According to my father it was like this:
One day, there were two Hill People came to Father's tin mine, Yat Cheong
Kongsi (日昌公司), and gave He Cai (何財, the husband of my aunty, a younger
sister of Father who was in charge of the mine), some money and wanted him
to buy five pairs of rubber shoes for them. They also told He Cai that they
would come to collect the shoes the following Sunday morning. In the afternoon
of that day when Father came to the mine He Cai asked him what he should
do. Father told him not to worry and he would buy the shoes and would take
care of the matter as he was the mine owner and he should take the responsibility.
It was believed that Father informed the British about that matter. Father
asked the British to promise him not to kill anyone of them but capture
them alive and free them after rehabilitation otherwise Father would not
cooperate. The British agreed and promised not to kill any of them but capture
On the appointed day to collect the shoes, very early in the morning, the
British and Malay soldiers laid an ambush near Father's tin mine. Third
Elder Brother went to the mine very early in the morning and saw the British
and Malay soldiers laying an ambush. The soldiers invited Third Elder Brother
to join them. So he left his car on the track road near the mine.
On his way to the mine, the Kepala (工頭 the head man of the workers), saw
Third Elder Brother's car abandoned on the track road and he was nowhere
to be found. The Kepala went straight to the mine looking for Third Elder
Brother but he was not in the mine. The Kepala was worry and cycled to Pusing
to inform Father that his third son was not in the mine and the car was
abandoned on the track road. Immediately, Father went to the police station
to report that his son was missing. Cheah Fah (謝華, the father of Tan Seri
Dr Jeffery Cheah, the current President of the Federated Hakka Associations
of Malaysia), led a group of Pusing folks to the mine in search of Third
Elder Brother. Cheah Fah had a shotgun and a handgun for protection because
the Hill People wanted his head. Two policemen also went with Cheah Fah
and joined the search thinking that Third Elder Brother was kidnapped by
Incredibly, no one saw the British and Malay soldiers and Third Elder Brother
laying ambush in the bush. Cheah Fah and the Pusing folks saw two strangers
wearing, approaching the mine. Cheah Fah was holding a shot gun and First
Uncle was also holding his shot gun, which was used to protect the mine,
and the two policemen were also ready to do a gunfight. Suddenly, from
nowhere the British and Malay soldiers shouted to the police, Cheah Fah
and First Uncle not to shoot because they wanted to capture the two men
alive. When the two men saw the soldiers they ran towards the bush. The soldiers
shouted , "Jangan lari! Stop! Don't run!"
The two men fell into a mud pond near the mine and they were captured alive.
The soldiers gave Third Elder Brother back to Father and thanked Third Elder
Brother for his cooperation. The British officer was in command, speaking
in Malay and apologized to the Pusing folks for their inconveniences. This
incident was carried by all the Chinese newspapers in Malaya, but not the
A few months later I met one of the captured Hill people in a dinner in
a friend's house.
After the capture of the two Hill People (Communists) in Father's tin mine
called Yat Cheong Kongsi (日昌公司), the next day, the "Voice-Aircraft"
calling Zeng Gengyou (曾庚友)[1A], Chen Youfu (陳有福) and another one to
surrender. The aircraft also showered leaflets carrying the photos of the
two surrendered Hill People dressed in plain clothe with the intention of
showing Zeng Gengyou that his two comrades had actually surrendered. I knew
all these names because they were former from my village Kampong Sayap.
Several weeks later, it was alleged that one of Zeng Gengyou's body guards
surrendered to the police while he was on his assignment to obtain food
from the town of Siputeh. The surrendered comrade led the Security forces
to the camp where he supposed to return with the provision. Comrade Zeng
Gengyou and his other bodyguard were killed by the Security Forces. The
story about his family was published by all the newspapers in Malaya including
the English newspaper Straits Times. The residents of Pusing, Papan, Siputeh
and Tronoh were expecting the Government to declare their towns "White Area"
(白區) that meant there were no more Hill People in the jungle. Indeed,
several weeks later, the whole of Kinta District was declared a "White Area"
and the curfew was lifted.
I was living in Ipoh and preparing for my Cambridge Overseas School Examinations.
I read the news in the Chinese newspapers and the English newspaper Straits
Times. It was also the time that Malaya was playing against Indonesia for
the badminton Thomas Cup tournament. Eddy Choong from Penang was the captain
of Maslaya. He was in seriously physical trouble and Tay Kew Shan tried
desperately to save the cup from leaving Malaya. In the end Malaya lost
the cup to Indonesia. It was coincident that one of the Indonesian players
was called Chen Youfu (陳有福) from Indonesia. The newspapers also introduced
the background of his family. To read the retrospect of Zeng Gengyou (曾
庚友的回顧), please read the chapter of the formation of the 5th MPAJA (Malayan
People's Anti-Japanese Army) Independent Regiment 馬來亞人民抗日軍第五獨
Posted to Overseas Chinese Forum at asiawind.com
By CHUNG Yoon-Ngan (鄭永元)
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