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A Hakka Chinese immigrate
>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Apr 27 05:43:53 1997
From: CHUNG Yoon-Ngan <email@example.com>
Subject: A Hakka Chinese immigrate
A Hakka Chinese immigrate
Zheng Ping-Yuan was born in a little Hakka village called Kang Heng
in the district of Dong Guan, Guangdong Province, China; the year was
1858AD, the eighth year of the reign of Emperor Xian Feng. His parents
were poor peasants who had no land of their own - instead they rented
about an acre of land from the landlord in the village. By planting rice
and some cash crops in the field they managed to escape starvation.
The following year his mother gave birth to a boy who was called
Ping-Sheng. Now, the produce from the rented acre of land had to support a
family of four, including the rent to the landlord. Life was a constant
struggle for them, but somehow they magaed to scrape through year after
year. This was the adverse environment under which Ping-Yuan and
Ping-Sheng grew up.
Ping-Sheng Ping-Yuan never had any formal education but they knew that
life was tough, and as farmers, they could not rid themselves of the fate
of poverty. But the time they were in their teens, the brothers had
already begun helping their parents tilling the land; they disliked
farming, but they were too young to anything else.
At the age of about twenty Ping-Yuan got himself a job as an assistant
to a business man who lived in the same village, following his boss from
village to village to buy pigs and cows, after which they transported the
animals and resold them in the town not far from their village. Life was
not much better doing this than being a farmer.
When he was in town he heard many strange tales about the lands across
the ocean. Occasionally he saw one or two foreigners in town - these were
the few rich men who returned to the town to live after working many years
in a foreign land called Jiu Jin Shan (California). Ping-Yuan wished he
could go there to make a small fortune, after which he would return to the
village and buy some land for his parents.
Not long after, Ping-Yuan heard that there were people coming to the
town to recruit workers to work in a place called Xin Jin Shan (Melbourne,
Australia). They would offer to pay for all the expenses and passage en
route to the foreign land. The stories of Xin Jin Shan were unfamiliar to
him, having only heard about Xin Jin Shan.
Ping-Yuan went home and told his parents about going to work in a
foreign land and also told them the stories he heard on how the rich men
made their fortune by working in foreign lands. To his surprise his
parents allowed him to go. They even asked him to take his younger brother
along. His parents must have been sick of their poverty stricken lives.
When the contractors arrived in the town the two brothers signed
up, not knowing that they had signed away their freedom for three years.
Under the conditions of the contract they had to work for the contractors
for three years without any pay, but food, shelter and clothing were
provided. The contractors would pay for their passage to get to Xin Jin
Shan and they would be free to embark upon their own undertakings after
they had given three years of free labour to their contractors.
A month later, the two brothers bade farewell to their parents and
promised to send home money regularly, after which they and many others
followed the contractors on their journey to the strange land.
The contractors took them to Hong Kong, a British territory, and
from there they embarked on a British steamer and sailed for Australia. On
board the steamer they were treated like slaves.
After sailing for several weeks they arrived at Port Melbourne and
were immediately transported to Bendigo, which was about 150 kilometers
northwest of the city of Melbourne. They were sheltered in tents which
were to become their future homes.
Life was harsh - they panned for gold throughout the day and often into
the night. However there were many thousands of Chinese miners digging for
gold in that region and they were able to maintain their Chinese way of
life wihtout coming into contact with the Europeans.
Although Ping-Yuan and his brother did not receive any wages they
managed to borrow some money from their boss to send regularly to their
parents who were overjoyed to receive their remittance.
Soon after, the three years was over and the two brothers were free from
the slave bondage. They continued to pan for gold, but this time the gold
they obtained did not go to the contractors but to themselves. They worked
hard and very industrious, making siginican sums of money which they sent
to their parents back home.
Ping-Sheng eventually got married to an English girl. As far as
Ping-Yuan was concerned he was quite happy to remain single, but after ten
years of marriage the English wife bore no children and Ping-Yuan began to
grow concerned because their parents, in China, were longing for
grandchildren. His parents argued that he should come back to China to get
married since the foreign daughter-in-law was 'barren'. His parents also
told him that they had already match-made him to a young and beautiful
girl. Ping-Yuan agreed to return.
Ping-Yuan returned to his Hakka village in 1903 and soon after got
married to this beautiful young Hakka girl. With the money he brought home
he bought his family a few acres of land and built a big house. The
following year, Ping-Yuan became a father and he named his son Guan Lin.
His parents were very happy as their dreams had come true - they saw their
first grandchild before they died.
Ping-Sheng and his English wife also returned to China. It was very
hard for the English woman as she had to adopt the Chinese way of life,
but she was happy to be with her husband.
Their mother died in 1907 and their father in 1908. Ping-Yuan disliked
farming and did not have the know-how to do business. With nothing much to
do, Ping-Yuan became restless and wanted to go back to Australia with his
family; however permisson was not granted, as under the White Australia
Policy he was not allow to return to Australia with a Chinese wife.
Instead he went alone to Malaya, promising his wife that he would send for
Ping-Yuan ended up working as a mine labourer in a British owned tin
mining company in a small town called Pusing in Perak State, Malaya. In
1910 he sent for his family and they settled down in a little village
called Sayap which was about two kilometers from Pusing. Almost 100%
of the residents in Sayap were Hakka immigrates from Dong Guan district
in Guangdong province. Their occupations were either tin mine labourers
or rubbers tappers. (Has anyone been to Pusing, Perak State, Malaysia?)
Sayap was established in an abandoned rambutan (a kind of lychee
fruit) plantation. When the rambutans were in season many fruit sellers
would come to Sayap to buy the produce and resell them to the towns.
During this season the villagers were very happy as they could earn some
After the Double-Ten revolution in 1911 Dr Sun Yat-sen overthrew the
Qing Dynasty (1644AD to 1911) and founded the Republic of China.
Ping-Sheng and his wife went to live in Malaya with Ping-Yuan's family.
The British, the colonial rulers of Malaya were horrified to see one of
their own kind living with a poor Chinese in a little hut with so many
children. In the eyes of the natives they would loose their prestige to
see an English woman mingling with the poor Chinese.
The British Authority ordered the English woman to divource her Chinese
husband but she refused as she loved him dearly. She argued that there was
no law in Malaya to bar an English from marrying a Chinese, so in the end
she won the day.
But she and her husband could not live on love and fresh air alone. He
could not find a job and the British tin mining company would not employ
him as he had problems with the Authority. Ping-Sheng and his wife were in
Seeing Ping-Sheng had no means to support his wife the British
Authority offered him a job as a peon in a Government Department in
Singapore, as the British wanted them to be far away from Ping-Yuan's
family. In desperation Ping-Sheng accepted the offer; they were reluctant
to depart from the family but that was the only way out for them.
Ping-Sheng was not happy with the job as he had never worked in an
office before and as a result was clumsy with office chores. Within a few
years Ping-Sheng died of disappointment and his wife went back to her
people in Australia.
Ping-Yuan's wife bore him two more boys and four girls. He was a
father of seven and he died in 1935 at the age of 77.
........................to be continued.............................
CHUNG Yoon-Ngan. firstname.lastname@example.org