February 8, 2014

Sibu Tales : Comfort Women

Recently I asked my mum about Comfort Women in Sibu. She is 89 years old and I am well over 60. She gave me a look and she said, "Why ask? It should not be asked...don't get into trouble." Mum has always been very tight lipped about unsavoury topics.

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Old Street of Sibu. An old photo from Christopher Gan.
My friends and I have been discussing this topic since many different countries have already asked Japan to apologise or to make amends for the Comfort Women issue.

I know from many people that Miri had its share of Comfort Women but most of them had died since the war and they left no documents or no one to tell their stories.

And my own birthplace, Sibu, had probably  its share of comfort women. And they could be Chinese, Ibans and other ethnic groups of women inadvertently forced into this kind of human slavery for 3 years and 8 months.

One book written in Chinese mentioned in one short paragraph," Above the xxx medicine shop,was the Happy Garden, used by the Japanese to keep their Comfort Women." The place was at Old Street, now named Chew Geok Lin Road.

 However many claimed that it was just a brothel, not really a place where the Japanese kept their Comfort Women.  Nguong Chung Chinese Medical Store continued to operate throughout the Japanese Occupation.

According to an elder, some women were willing to serve the Imperial army as servants, to clean the house and to cook, but not as sex slaves. But then again, it was not verified at all by documents or by any oral story. Most eldest have kept their secrets.

 And this this from Trinleychodron.wordpress.com

http://trinleychodron.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/malaysia-comfort-woman-79-talks-about-her-past/map:height of Japanese Empire in 1942. Comfort Women were taken from anywhere in red by kidnapping, or coercion(lied to) and shipped to anywhere in red. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/18297357@N00/135095101)
A 79-YEAR-OLD Penang woman has broken her silence about the years she spent as a sex slave during the Japanese Occupation.
Madam Rosalind Saw told The Star newspaper that she had been keeping the fro m her children for 54 years for fear of what they would think of her.
But she decided to tell her story now as she feared of dying alone and “no one would ever know what had happened to me”.
Madam Saw, who lives alone in a low-cost flat in Penang, said that she was then 25 and was a divorcee with two
children when the nightmare began.
She said the invading Japanese soldiers were filthy and drunk most of the time. “You cannot imagine our
humiliation at their hands. Often we would be beaten savagely.”
Her nightmare at the comfort house ended when she found herself pregnant – a reason for her to escape.
In 1945, she gave birth to a girl, who is now married and lives in Britain.
文書 STIMES0020050711dqbg04gz8

INVASION OF MALAYA: Tragic tale of a Malayan comfort woman
The cover of a book by George Hicks (left) which says that the Imperial Japanese Army kept over 100,000 comfort women during World War 2, and George C.C. Yong (right) who says Madam X sought compensation from the Japanese Government because she needed money for medical treatment. (http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Wednesday/National/2482293/Article/index_html)
The cover of a book by George Hicks (left) which says that the Imperial Japanese Army kept over 100,000 comfort women during World War 2, and George C.C. Yong (right) who says Madam X sought compensation from the Japanese Government because she needed money for medical treatment.

3 Responses to “Malaysia Comfort woman, 79, talks about her past”

  1. Gadfly Says:
    Testimonies from the comfort women like those given by Madam Rosalind Saw would help to reveal the traumatic events during Japanese Occupation and to debunk the dominant view of history imposed by the dominant political elites. The histories of comfort women are not just her stories, but the interweaving of numerous complex issuses involving militarism, colonial relations, class, gender, race and ethnicity. History when seen from her eyes has much to educate this and future generations – how should a human being relate to another human being.
    The trauma experienced in rape, assault, military combat and torture often do not go away easily. Survivors have witnessed or risked death or injury and experienced intense fear, helplessness or horror. These may combine together to give rise to anxiety disorders, major depression and what now has been commonly known as PTSD(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The typical symptoms are re-experiencing the traumatic event(e.g. nightmares and flashbacks), avoiding reminders of the event(e.g. refusing to talk about it) and loss of sleep.
    The NST article above of using the phrase ‘the nightmare ended’ may need a better pharasing. The effects of war do not end with the war. It continues to haunt the survivors, especially the dark shame of being repeatedly and brutally raped.
    Rosalind’s moral courage to tell her story helps to shed light on a part of history that was deliberately denied.
    Further reading:
  2. Trinley Chodron Says:
    Thanks so much Gadfly!
    The link you have sent here indeed very good!
    More detail information of the comfort women situation.
    I fully agred with you that testimonies of these comfort woman had actually reflected the underlying ideological elements of militarism, colonial relations, class, gender, race and ethnicity;
    and also for me, the most important is that the cruety treatment towards the comfort women in the past have not been taken seriuosly by our government till today.Almost 60 years!
    Even those political parties claims to defend the chinese people rights in this nation, i wish they will take this issue to the UMNO-BN rulling parties.Months back, many MCA leaders loudly claimed that the history text of the nation need to be re written, especially for the new villages.
    Hopefully those comfort women’s stories and history will be honestly recorded and not being distorted.
  3. Japanese Kimonos Says:
    Awesome post! You have a great blog, absolutely the best Ive read so far. I will be looking forward to your next entry. Thanks again.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hi Sarawakiana,
I remember you posted something on Sheepstor long time ago. How do you get to St Leonard's Church, Sheepstor from Plymouth??

Thank you in advance!

Ensurai said...

You can get to Plymouth first and then from there make your way to Cornwall. Shepstor is quite famous actually. You can take a bus/coach or even a taxi. A bicycle would be just nice too in the Summer. http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/sheepstor_church.htm

Ensurai said...


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