Friday, August 03, 2007

C' bridge historians : Chin Peng born in Perak

In their newly released 673-page book Forgotten Wars: The End of Britain's Asian Empre (London, Penguin/Allen Lane, 2007), two world-renowned historians of the Cambridge Unversity in the United Kingdom reaffirm the fact that " Chin Peng was born as Ong Boon Hua, in Sitiawan in Perak, where his parents ran a bicycle shop " (p.35). Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper specialise in the studies of the history of the British Empire in Asia.
Christopher Bayly is Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History, Unversity of Cambridge, and a Fellow of St. Catharine's College, Cambridge. His book include Imperial Meridian, Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire (Cambridge, 1988) and The Birth of the Modern World, 1780 - 1914 (Oxford, Blackwell, 2004). In June 2005 Christopher Bayly won the Wolfson Prize for History for his 'distinguished contribution to historical writing'.
Tim Harper is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. He is also the author of The End of Empire and the Making of Modern Malaya (Cambridge, 1999).
Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper jointly wrote the highly praised Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941-1945 (London, Penguin, 2004) which is a prelude to Forgotten Wars : The End of Britain's Asian Empire (London, Penguin/Allen Lane, 2007).
In the process of researching and writing Forgotten Wars : The End of Britain's Asian Empire, Bayly and Harper consulted archival materials at the National Archives of Singapore, Institute of Southeast Asia Studies of Singapore, Arkib Negara Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Perpustakaan Universiti Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Oriental and India Office Collection in the British Library, Centre of South Asian Studies of Cambridge, Cambridge University Library, Royal Commonwealth Society Library in the Cambridge University Library, Trinity College of Cambridge, Lindell Hart Centre at King's College in London, National Army Museum in London, School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, Southampton University Libary, Rhodes House Library at Oxford and Christ Church at Oxford.
In his popular memoirs Alias Chin Peng : My Side of History (Singapore, Media Masters, 2003), he reveals that he was born on October 21, 1924, " in an upstairs backroom of No.36, Jalan Kampong Koh, a two-storey shophouse in a long row of similar small business establishments the likes of which still dominate the southern Perak township of Sitiawan, some 50 miles southwest of Ipoh " (p.31), attended the Nan Hwa school in Sitiawan (p.33) and " the graves of my grandfather, parents and my brothers " are still located in a Chinese cemetery, " halfway between Sitiawan and Lumut ". (p.509)


Blogger Unknown said...

Boon Hwa's father occasionally visited Penang on business and would drop into our shop. On a few occasions I met him and recall a genial man who was much respected in the Henghua community. But because of the political situation, few dared to get 'too close' to him. I met Boon Hwa's daughter in Penang in 2005 and almost got to meet her father in Bangkok, but other matters made me pass up the chance. I hope the Malaysian govt will let him visit his parents' graves to pay his respects. I sincerely believe he does not constitute any threat to stability.

2:41 AM  
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