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A Taiwanese Hakka in the Japanese army (3)
A Taiwanese Hakka in the Japanese army (3)
Tin was mined in Malaya for almost four hundred years and it was first
solely mined by the Chinese, mostly Hakkas. The Malayan tin is the purest
in the world. 99.9 per cent pure after furnacing. In the 19th century when
the British colonized Malaya, two-thirds of the tin mines were in the
Hakka Chinese hands. The profits were shared with the Malay sultans.
At the turn of the 20th century the British, financed by big cooperations
in England, began to mine the tin-ore buried under the earth in Kinta
Valley which had the richest deposit of tin-ore in the world. The British
needed labour to work in their tin mines. So the British acquired cheap
labourers from China, where there were plenty, mainly from Dongguan county
(about indentured labour see my posting "The Crippled Tree by Han Suyin
<6>). That was how these three small towns of Pusing, Siputeh and Papan
became Hakka towns.
Later, there were more Hakkas arriving. These late comers began to plant
rubber trees in the fringes of the jungle where there was no tin-ore under
the ground. The rubber trees they planted did not belong to them but the
rich Chinese in Singapore and the Babas or British Straits Chinese living
in the Strait Settlements of Malacca and Penang. When the rubber trees
were matured, after six or seven years, these plantations were subdivided
and sold to those local Hakkas, who had saved enough money from working as
mine workers in the British tin-mines. They became small rubber platation
holders. Some of the Hakkas even opened their own tin-mines.
The contact man used Kon Lai's bicycle and carried him into the jungle.
He rode on the bumping and uneven track road through hundreds, thousands
and tens of thousands of rubber trees before they arrived at the guerilla
camp at the foot of a little hill. Here was the headquarters of the Kinta
district's 3rd Independent Regiment of the Malayan People's Anti Japanese
Army (MPAJA). The man in charge of the camp, Corps Commander Comrade Zeng
Gang Ren, welcomed Kon Lai to their organization.
Comrade Zeng, who was my father's neighbour, had completed the Junior
Middle High School at Yoke Choy high school in Ipoh, the capital of the
State of Perak. He was a teacher at the Pusing Overseas Chinese Primary
School before the Japanese arrived. Comrade Zeng assembled his fighters,
about two hundred of them, in a open field to wecome Kon Lai because he
was the first Japanese soldier even defected to their camp. He made a big
fuss out of it. Besides he wanted Kon Lai to become their military
instructor to train his fighters, who had never gone through any military
training, as Kon Lai was trained in jungle warefare in Hainan Island in
China. The fighters were the sons of the poor Hakka tin-mine workers who
were redundant when the tin industry collapsed at the outbreak of the war.
Kon Lai was much impressed by the welcome and he told them that he would
try his best in helping to defeat the Japanese conquerers. Kon Lai was
given a towel, a exercise book and a pen to keep his diary as every one in
the camp kept a diary. All the forces of the MPAJA in Malaya followed the
model of the Eighth Route Army in China.
A few days later, the camp teacher, whose duty was to give literacy to
the uneducated fighters, taught Kon Lai how to sing the "March of the
"Arise, ye who do not want to be slave,
With our flesh and blood,
We shall build our new Great Wall,
The Chinese race have come, have come to the final...
Kon Lai was very excited with the song which had never heard of before
in Taiwan. The camp teacher also taught the new recruits how to recognize
" Little dog, big dog,
Little dog jumps, big dog jumps,
Little dog barks, big dog barks.
The next day the camp teacher taught him how to sing the
"Folk Song of the Great Wall",
"Wan Li Chang Cheng Wan Li Cheng,
Chang Cheng Wai Mian Shi Gu Xiang,
Gao Liang Fei Da Dou Xiang,
In the afternoon Kon Lai attended the lecture on Chinese history about the
conquered of the Northeast (Manchuria) by the Japanese. The lingua-franca
inthe camp was Mandarin.
A week had passed since Kon Lai entered the camp and he had attended a
few meetings. Comrade Zeng officially appointed Kon Lai as the military
instructor of the camp. All the squad leaders were instructed to arrange
their timetables to receive military drilling from Kon Lai. Every day
early in the morning after the bugle call Kon Lai got up and had a cup of
hot Chinese tea, then he began his work as a military instructor. He
taught the fighters how to drill. Kon Lai was a great assest to the camp
and he became a persona-grata. Comrade Zeng was very grateful to Kon Lai
for giving jungle warefare training to his fighters and would not allow
Kon Lai to take part in combat operation. That was how Kon Lai spent over
three years with these Hakka guerillas. The MPAJA forces in this camp had
increased to more than three hundred fighters by 1945.
One night Kon Lai was told by Comrade Zeng to follow them to the
tailing of an abandoned tin mine which ws about six kilometres away from
their camp. Comrade Zeng was very excited and told Kon Lai that they had
made contact with the British 136 force who were sending two planes, that
night, to drop them supply and a few liaison officers. They arrived at the
dropping zone. As soon as they heard the sound of the aeroplanes they
lighted with fire the beacon which was a huge burning "D". Later, many
parachutes were dropped. Weapons, ammunition, medical supplies and many
items as well as two Chinese and two British officers came down that
night. Kon Lai knew that the war was ending his chances of going back to
Taiwan was approaching..... ......to be continued...............
CHUNG Yoon-Ngan. firstname.lastname@example.org