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TV viewers welcome Hakka Guests into homes
TV viewers welcome Hakka Guests into homes
CHIN SOO FANG
STUDENT Juleen Ho, 17, used to feel embarrassed about being a Hakka.
are generally said to be stingy and calculating," she explained.
But her opinion of her dialect group has changed since she started watching
The Guest People, the on-going Channel 8 serial on the Hakka community.
"I am now proud to have been born a Hakka, especially since the serial
that the Hakka women do more work than the men!"
Indeed, she said that watching the prime-time show has made her feel closer
her forefathers. "I learnt little details like how 300 or more Hakkas would
build circular homes resembling mushrooms in the same plot of land," she
adding that the serial revealed how the group's cohesiveness and
outlook enabled it to turn adversity to advantage.
>From interviews with 10 people, it appears that the Television Corporation
Singapore's 30-parter has found a large following among Chinese viewers,
especially among the Hakkas.
The serial focuses on the lives of four Hakka youths who venture out of
to Southeast Asia during the '30s, and also showcases the patriotic and
entrepreneurial spirit of the dialect group.
It stars Christopher Lee, Chen Hanwei, Xie Shaoguang and Jason Oh as four
friends who spend their carefree childhood in a Hakka communal building in
China, but end up enemies later. Ann Kok, Chen Huihui and Jacelyn Tay play
Hakka girls with different destinies.
The serial was filmed on location in Ipoh, the tin-mining town where many
Hakkas first became prosperous, and Fujian and Guangdong provinces.
Mr Chan Liang Choy, the president of the Nanyang Khek Community Guild,
was set up in 1928 to serve the Hakka community here and in Malaya, is
those who have caught the drama.
He said in Mandarin: "It's not too bad, especially since beautiful scenes
our homeland are shown."
Mr Chan, who is in his 70s and is group chairman of travel agency Chan
Brothers Holdings, added: "Of course there is some dramatisation here and
there, as is necessary in drama serials."
Businessman William Chong, 51, one of the guild's committee members who
TCS establish contacts in China for the filming of the serial, liked the
serial so far. "It shows how the Hakkas emphasised a lot on education. They
set up schools which offered free education to all," he said.
"It also portrays Hakka women as strong and sacrificial. They were willing
take care of the family and housework while the men taught or travelled far
search of a better life."
But it is not just the Hakkas who have been glued to the TV set. Miss
Tan, a 23-year-old trainee teacher who is a Hokkien, said: "I am no fan of
serials. But this is different because the focus is on the culture and
tradition of a group of people. It is very educational."
She added that she was also attracted to the strong mix of different
The response to the show is encouraging, in light of how TCS's earlier
group-themed serial, Teochew Family, caused unhappiness among many Teochews
when it was screened two years ago.
Miss Ho recalled how the serial, which starred Zoe Tay, Chew Chor Meng and
Zeng Huifen, was "more dramatic than educational" compared to The Guest
Teochew Family told the tale of three generations of the Cai family who
migrated to Singapore from Guangdong province.
Some grassroots leaders said that the portrayal of the Teochew community
only lacked authenticity, but also gave a wrong impression of the dialect
group. For example, Kenneth Tsang Kong's character, who turned to smuggling
get rich in his early days, was thought to give the Teochews a bad name.
So did actor Chen Shucheng's role as a rice store assistant who broke with
tradition by marrying into his wife's family. Many also said there was
particularly Teochew beyond the setting.
But The Guest People is not without its detractors. Madam Sally Lo, a
49-year-old part-time bank teller, a Teochew, felt that the Teochew Family
a more exciting show.
Mrs Jasmine Chua, 35, a babysitter who is Hokkien, said in Mandarin: "I
it boring and slow. But old people like my mother find this and other sagas
about immigrants very heartwarming."
The Guest People is on from Mondays to Fridays over Channel 8 at 9 pm.