(This radio belongs to my friend Judy Wong - Principal of MPI -and it seats beautifully in her living room in Sibu)
When the Japanese overran Sibu most of the Chinese were living in fear. The Japanese Army was very cruel to the Chinese settlers for after all the Japanese had already taken China and there were many old scores to settle. And even in the new colony of Sarawak the Japanese soldiers were ordered to treat "their enemies" cruelly. I was told that the local Malays and Ibans were not as badly treated.
My father was then in his late twenties and just beginning to establish himself in a career as a publisher and journalist. He owned many lovely "personal effects" from the west like vinyl records and a record player. He owned a Philips radio and he loved listening to the news after all he was a trained journalist.
Here's a Youtube of the famous speech through radio broadcast by the English King - King George VI . (You can see him making this speech in the movie The King's Speech.). Listening to the speech via radio you can capture the atmosphere of the War days in Sibu.
When the Japanese soldiers came to search my grandfather's house my father was arrested and tortured for several days. I believe the beatings he took led to his premature death. His crime? "Listening to English news....." My father was only released after my grandfather begged with the Commandant . A Chinese teacher (Mr. Lu) who could write in Japanese wrote a letter to vouch for my father stating that he was Sarawak born and was educated. But never a spy for any country!! According to family stories my grandfather even knelt down before the commandant to get my father released. This was what the Japanese expected of the Chinese when they came to "beg" for the lives of their children. One night my grandfather came home with blood on his face after being struck by a Japanese soldier. Finally after a few long days my father was released.
When we were born on the Kerto Island in the Hua Hong Ice Factory (across the river from Sibu) my father continued to listen to his radio. I remember very clearly how we kids would gather around to listen to "English news" and the classical music which was played in the evenings.
What do I remember best about my mother and her radio "time"? She was one of my earliest memories of a lady who could sing well. She sang along with the radio!
When the Sarawak Radio became very well organised (I will do another post on this) my father would lovingly tune the radio to the Chinese station so that my mother and maternal grandmother could listen to the news and Chinese songs. It was through Radio that my mother kept up her interest in Chinese songs sung by famous singers like Chou Suan and Grace Chang Ger Lang. Bai Kwong featured big in her life too. Mum has always been a good singer as she taught singing in the primary school my maternal grandfather founded in Sg. Maaw or Nang Chong. When my father kept up with these new songs he would go to Sibu to buy the new records (78 rpm) and he would play them on his old record player which had to be wound up by hand.
By the time we were quite big noticed that he had become very quiet and fairly reclusive. Perhaps he was then nursing a very "painful" heart damaged by the beatings in the Japanese prison.
I cannot remember my paternal great grandfather listening to the news as he moved to Sungei Merah to stay in the new house my paternal grandfather built. My paternal grandfather however was a keen newspaper reader and he did not love the radio as much as we did.
My last memory of my father listening to his Philips Radio (a green one) was when Radio Sarawak broadcast the powerful speech of the President of Indonesia declaring Confrontation against Malaysia. He was very distraught by the news and of the possibilities that the Indonesians would march from Kalimantan to Sarawak. He just told us his children that we did not understand. He and mum talked very gently to each other and often in whispers after they heard the news of possible war. My parents always believed that we children should not listen to adult talk.
And I too believe that because my father had great fears of "invading" armies his heart finally gave way. He passed away not long after that from a heart attack.
Pictures of radio of almost the same vintage found in Google - above and below
|What are your memories related to this old fashioned and antiquated radio?|
Forty or more years later our technology has improved so much that I can get a Youtube of Ger Lang singing for my mother. If my father were alive today he would be so amazed. Ger Lang in this Youtube performance is still "fantastic"...she has Broadway style!!