August 5, 2014

Tales from the Valley of White Lily (Bai Hua He)

The River of White Lily demarcates one of the Foochow villages on the right bank of the Rajang River, the longest river in Malaysia. It is still "a village with only a few homes which are occupied". Many of the old early Foochow homes have actually become derelict buildings. Some have only the main poles standing.
Kek Lumut, or the Green Malay cake made from horliks and kaya would always be remembered because my family would visit Kak (our neighbour) and enjoy special treats . The family would make 3 of these cakes, using their heavy BRASS ACUAN, the old traditional baking method of old kampong days.

This village called the Bang Mah Hor or Bai Hua He, was a thriving village with hundreds of acres of rubber and a strong cooperative society (its history was recorded in a book by Peter Goulart of the same name). An example of a Hii family from that village, whom I know personally still owns a large rubber plantation. When equally distributed amongst the third generation,more than 20 grandsons inherited about 20 acres each. Many Foochows who live in Miri still talk about the glory days of the 50's when their parents enjoyed a rubber boom due to the Korean War.

Most of the villagers of Bang Mah Hor have moved away from 1972 onwards, to West Malaysia, the UK, Australia and New Zealand because of the threat of political unrest and lack of economic development after Malaysia was formed.

 Many of my relatives in Nang Chong and Hai Hua Hee (Bang Mah Or) remember one particular medical practice during the Communist Insurgency Period of Sarawak - 1958 -1974. And recently a friend reminded me of the practice with his stories of his childhood, interrupted by fear of uniformed soldiers and bullets flying from here and there.

This is from Mao's directive in 1966.....The “Ministry of Urban Gentlemen’s Health”* was compelled to admit its mistake, and on December 28, ’66, it notified the entire country of the cancellation of the mistaken notice banning chicken blood therapy. (later it was again revived because some high authorities believed that this therapy was in line with Mao's Thoughts...more on this in another post.)

Chinese pamphlet promoting chicken blood therapy

But strangely between 1962 and until 1972 , i.e. for 10 years, the people of the Rajang Valley, who were threatened by the Communists, were coerced into helping to buy syringes to inject chicken blood into the blood stream of the guerrillas. It was believed that it would help the guerrilas to become aggressive and faithful to the ideology.
Many Chinese were pulled between the two sides, if caught by the  Government's Rascom soldiers or regiment, they would be tortured and if they refused the guerrillas, they had to "eat the bullet".

However this very tragic practice of "quack medicine" reigned even after the therapy was considered a HOAX in China. Read this :

"The popularity of chicken blood injections continued for around ten months in 1967 and 1968, perfectly in sync with the height of Cultural Revolution madness. Its puzzling echo of frenzied rebellion even today remains a baffling mystery.”

But of course in those days, without the Internet, our Rural relatives of Sarawak were none the wiser and they were like chickens themselves running here and there when the thunder roared and lightning struck.

Many of my relatives( who used to relate old stories)actually said that they were petrified of chicken blood and they  themselves refused to be injected. Many who agreed to the injection said that they felt physically strong. So they supposed that the guerrillas who were given the chicken blood injection actually believed that they were stronger and were able to fight the enemies!!

An aunty from Sg. Teku, now living in Miri, who lost a brother to the war against the guerrillas, also confirmed the practice of Chicken Blood Therapy in the rural parts of Sibu. (Interview : August 2014)

Do you remember such stories? Please tell us.


Small Kucing said...

Interesting. Not many books written on stories from your side of the country. Wish i can read more of this too

Ensurai said...

May be a book is soon coming the way if you like the topic you can read "And the Rain my Drink" by Han Su Yin...old but still very clear about those days in Malaya.

Anonymous said...

Mao was horrible. After winning over the civil war, he started eliminating his own people within the party from competing with him. He started that worst cultural revolution, but he is still treated as a hero in China. If there will always be periodic unrest in China, how would they be able to remain strong?

Anonymous said...

Never heard of that! That is dangerous, something like giving the wrong blood group type eg A to a B group person. mIt will caused agglutination.

littleroot said...

Very impressive and your spirit must be commended! Bravo

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

My Ah Kung says my grandma had it. A young friend too, I wrote it in my book, though I am very skeptical that it works.

Ensurai said...

The Communist Party of China really knows how to keep their political struggle strong. The strongest stays at the top.

Ensurai said...

Yes it is dangerous.

Ensurai said...

When did you first hear about the chicken blood injection? In 1971 you were already overseas?

Ensurai said...

Thank you.

rocketliu said...


rocketliu said...


Ensurai said...

True..some people became very strong and stayed healthy...But it is now stopped by the Central Govt of China.

Ensurai said...

I totally agree with you. Mao was very successful and those who came after him did not abuse their power. Therefore politically, economically, and socially, today the United Chinese have their strong government and also their strong economy. All for the sake of a great nation. And without having to say much. China is now a super power, after just 30 years of opening up to the world. A success story with all the positive factors and variables. The human factor is the strongest variable.

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