March 25, 2013

Their Three Years and Eight Months

"Their 3 Years and 8 Months", oral stories of 14 women during the Japanese occupation of Sibu during the 2nd World War has been published. The launching of the book is forthcoming.

(Thanks to Steve Ling for forwarding the picture of the cover and the Chinese news)

It is not easy for women who have suffered so much to relate their life experiences. It is not easy for women or any one to open their hearts to strangers or even friends and to tell of their deepest secrets or deepest pains. It is not easy for  many Chinese women in general to talk about injustices done to them because of their Confucianist upbringing. It is not easy for any one to share a deeply kept and almost long forgotten story. Sometimes memories are not clear and they would say, "I cannot tell now, I might be wrong. So why should I say then?" These are the obstacles to oral history.And we have to appreciate their reluctance.

But I am so glad that these 14 women are courageous, frank enough, succinct enough, to break barriers. 

The Sarawak Chinese Cultural Association has done it again!!

Another worthwhile publication has just been released last week in Sibu. This is the result of painstaking recording of Japanese Occupation stories using Oral History methodology
 to collect stories and to publish them.

The stories under the title of "Their Three Years and Eight Months" is the first book based on Oral History.

Fourteen Chinese women were interviewed on their life experiences during the Japanese Occupation.

There amazing stories bring to the fore many unheard of experiences of those dark days and also reveal the realities and lives of the unknown and unsung heroines of the day. Where were just stories "we heard" are now being published as "Stories which have been recorded" with proofs of telling and recording.

It is a remarkable publication. 

 "Oral history provides depth, texture, flavor, nuance, and color to mission history and analysis. As social history, it fills in gaps, gives voice to otherwise hidden people, enriches or embellishes, substantiates or contradicts and potentially corrects the official record. 

 Oral history can also provide an older generation with a way of connecting to the younger, as when, for instances, third generation believers (students in a seminary) interviewed first generation believers in rural Latin America, wrote up the stories, and then returned to the churches to re-tell the stories. This generated mutual appreciation and understanding, and ensured that the early roots of the church were neither ignored nor despised.

Oral history can bring to light hidden aspects of a story, facilitating a sense of closure to issues not adequately remembered or dealt with by giving a voice to those who remember only too well, but who have never been listened to. It can supplements diaries, encouraging and ensuring a collective sense of family.

Furthermore, oral history has the virtue of being efficient, immediate, and eyewitness. It allows for divergent points of view, for the perspective of the voiceless (illiterate, low status), recovering forgotten knowledge. Most human beings are illiterate and have no voice in the stories mission typically historians tell." (
Resources for Evangelical Mission Archives)

The chief editor of this non-fiction book based on oral history is Chua Jen Chong蔡增聰, and researcher-writer Yong Gien Feng楊詒 is the chief interviewer and author. The publication is sponsored by the Sarawak Chinese Cultural Association and Dr. Lu Toh Ming 

Congratulations to the author, publisher,sponsors and the whole publication team.

Only 600 copies were printed.
本書是砂華文協所推行口述歷史訪談計畫的一項成果,內容收錄了14 年長婦女的訪談紀錄,主要追述她們在三年零八個月日據時期的生活經歷,以及受訪者個人對當時事物的觀點。
婦女在日據時期的經歷,過去在本地所出版的相關歷史書籍中,甚少有被提提及;她們對史事所持有的觀點,也經常為歷史研究者所忽視。本書希望借著對這些 女性的訪談,能夠提供讀者更多有關這段時期的歷史事實;同時讓經常在歷史書上“缺席”的女性,亦能透過個人的陳述及觀點的提出,間接參于這段慘痛歷史的論 述。


Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

if my mum was alive, you would have 15 women.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Indeed. Many women turned down the offers of being in a book. Most would, "not much to say", or "what to tell?" or "have forgotten" is quite sad that so many of them even have to ask their children ...But I am glad my friend did a wonderful job. I have yet to read all the stories. One of my aunts refused to be interviewed...She said, mah huang...She would have plenty of tales to tell. Her stories would bless many people too.

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