Snip­pets from the past

Go through the World War II sto­ries our R. AGE read­ers have man­aged to pre­serve.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R. AGE -

The Last Sur­vivors is an in­ter­ac­tive on­line doc­u­men­tary pro­ject that hopes to bring World War II sto­ries back to life by speak­ing to sur­vivors of the Ja­panese Oc­cu­pa­tion.

To film this se­ries, R. AGE trav­elled to five states across the coun­try, re­veal­ing the se­crets and bloody back­sto­ries be­hind oth­er­wise typ­i­cal- look­ing build­ings and lo­ca­tions be­fore they are lost to Malaysia for­ever, but we can’t do it alone.

So we asked you, our read­ers, to sub­mit short sto­ries doc­u­ment­ing what hap­pened. Th­ese are our top picks.


My father was in­terned in the lo­cal po­lice sta­tion for pos­s­esing a badge as­so­ci­ated with the Kuom­intang. My sis­ter- in­law, who was still in her teens, cut her hair short, dressed like a man and took the enor­mous risk of look­ing for him at the po­lice sta­tion.

He was even­tu­ally re­leased af­ter a few days, and he im­me­di­ately searched the house for any other in­crim­i­nat­ing doc­u­ments and sou­venirs. Th­ese in­cluded all doc­u­ments printed in English. All were con­signed to the flames with­out ex­cep­tion.

That is how none of us 11 sib­lings pos­sess birth cer­tifi­cates or any iden­tity doc­u­ments.


I am 84 years old and I can rec­ol­lect the day I wit­nessed the be­head­ing of three Chi­nese peo­ple at the old Pav­il­ion Theatre round­about, di­rectly below the po­lice head­quar­ters.

The Ja­panese Ma­jor, I think, pulled out his sword and asked the pub­lic to watch.

He went to the first Chi­nese, who was kneel­ing blind­folded with a white cloth, and with one swing he sliced the head off.

The body fell for­ward twitch­ing and turn­ing. It was a sight I can never for­get till this very day.


One morn­ing my mother wanted to make coffee but there were no matches to light the stove. My father had to go out to get matches from the shop.

When he stepped out of the house, he saw a man in uni­form with a gun in his hand, wait­ing at a junc­tion 100 me­tres from our home.

He knew it would be un­wise to back­track, as it would raise sus­pi­cion, but my mother’s face paled at the sight be­cause my father had to pass the sol­dier be­fore he could get to the matches. She thought the sol­dier had a shoot on sight or­der.


My mother was around 10 to 15 years old when the Ja­panese came. At that time, her father passed away due to ill­ness and my grandma had to work as a part time maid for sev­eral rich house­holds.

She also made tofu to sell at the wet mar­ket.

My mum said they were so poor that they didn’t have rice to eat some­times and would eat un­sold tofu.

My grand­mother, be­ing a typ­i­cal China woman, still had chil­dren in China and sent all her sav­ings back to China, leav­ing them poor here.


My aunt had dif­fi­cul­ties get­ting food ra­tions be­cause she was short while ev­ery­body else tow­ered over her.

She would hide un­der the bridge while try­ing to muf­fle my se­cond aunt, who was cry­ing, as the sol­diers walked above.

Her neigh­bour­hood friends hid guns in the atap roof and were even­tu­ally caught ( a spec­u­lated dou­ble agent was in­volved).


My great grand­fa­ther ended up a vic­tim of the oc­cu­pa­tion. An al­leged lo­cal Ja­panese ally blind­folded and cap­tured him, be­fore tak­ing him to an un­known lo­ca­tion for one or two nights.

What­ever hap­pened to my great grand­fa­ther on the fate­ful day would for­ever re­main a mys­tery. Even­tu­ally, he was re­leased un­harmed, but a changed man.

Fear con­stantly gripped him, and he was de­pressed.

One day, he went to a friend’s house for the night – and was found to have hung him­self in the kitchen the next morn­ing.

“Ever since the day my mother re­ceived the call in­form­ing her of my father’s sui­cide, she would get panic at­tacks when­ever the phone rang,” my grandma re­calls.


Dur­ing the early stages of the Ja­panese Oc­cu­pa­tion, I was a young and naive school­boy.

I was lis­ten­ing to the Voice of Amer­ica “Dou­ble Ten” ra­dio broad­cast one night on Oc­to­ber 10, 1942 when an armed Ja­panese sol­dier pa­trolling in the vicin­ity barged into the house on sus­pi­cion of the ra­dio noise.

He checked all the rooms in the house ex­cept the room I was in with the ra­dio. I was ter­ri­fied, think­ing of what would hap­pen if they took me.

For more in­for­ma­tion or to watch episodes of The Last Sur­vivor, visit rage. com. my/ last­sur­vivors. If you know a WW II sur­vivor, or a place of WWII sig­nif­i­cance in your city, please let us know with a short story, lo­ca­tion and ac­com­pa­ny­ing photo at allther­age@thes­ my. If the sto­ries are re­ally good, we’ll even send our video crew to you and turn it into one of our Last Sur­vivors doc­u­men­taries.

in­ter­ac­tive on­line map. Each ‘ pin’ con­tains a WWII story. Check out the map at rage. com. my/ last­sur­vivors, where you can also con­trib­ute a pin/ story.

The Last Sur­vivors

Liu’s sis­ter- in- law, Madam Lam, at her 80th birth­day, to­gether with fam­ily mem­bers in siti­awan ( Below) Madam Lam at her grand­daugh­ter’s wed­ding in Ma­sai Jo­hor

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