Tomorrow will be Mother’s Day 2012. And most of us go through the motions of celebrating without having any idea about the day’s original intent.

Mother’s Day can be traced back to Julia Ward Howe.

Julia Ward Howe

Read the rest of this entry…

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Today is Mother’s Day and to all the mothers in this world, I wish you all a very happy day and may you all be blessed. Mums are what make our world go round!

4-year-old Sydney and 2-year-old Lily gave their mum a Mother’s Day surprise by rapping about their cool mom in a song . Their father Mark helped them learn their lines and the end result is this adorably catchy rap for one special mom!

This song is dedicated to all mums!

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Singapore bid farewell to Kwa Geok Choo, hailed as the “mother of Singapore”, on October 6.

Mrs Lee Kuan Yew

The glass-encased brown coffin of Kwa Geok Choo, who died aged 89 on Saturday October 2 after a long illness, was transported to Mandai Crematorium on a ceremonial gun carriage normally reserved for state and military funerals.

Casket of Mrs Lee

Her son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 58, had presided over two days of public mourning at the Istana state complex where more than 14,000 visitors including foreign envoys and dignitaries paid their respects.

The government said the usage of a ceremonial gun carriage “is in recognition of her exceptional and unique contributions to Singapore for more than five decades, beginning before Singapore became independent.”

Mrs Lee Kuan Yew's funeral procession

Mr Lee Kuan Yew bidding farewell to his wife

Lee Kuan Yew delivered the first eulogy at his wife’s funeral service. His was a telling of their love story.

Lee Kuan Yew’s Eulogy

Ancient peoples developed and ritualised mourning practices to express the shared grief of family and friends, and together show not fear or distaste for death, but respect for the dead one; and to give comfort to the living who will miss the deceased.

I recall the ritual mourning when my maternal grandmother died some 75 years ago. For five nights the family would gather to sing her praises and wail and mourn at her departure, led by a practiced professional mourner.

Such rituals are no longer observed. My family’s sorrow is to be expressed in personal tributes to the matriarch of our family.

In October 2003 when she had her first stroke, we had a strong intimation of our mortality.

My wife and I have been together since 1947 for more than three quarters of our lives. My grief at her passing cannot be expressed in words. But today, when recounting our lives together, I would like to celebrate her life.

In our quiet moments, we would revisit our lives and times together. We had been most fortunate. At critical turning points in our lives, fortune favoured us.

As a young man with an interrupted education at Raffles College, and no steady job or profession, her parents did not look upon me as a desirable son-in-law. But she had faith in me.

We had committed ourselves to each other. I decided to leave for England in September 1946 to read law, leaving her to return to Raffles College to try to win one of the two Queen’s Scholarships awarded yearly. We knew that only one Singaporean would be awarded. I had the resources, and sailed for England, and hoped that she would join me after winning the Queen’s Scholarship.

If she did not win it, she would have to wait for me for three years.

In June the next year, 1947, she did win it. But the British colonial office could not get her a place in Cambridge.

Through Chief Clerk of Fitzwilliam, I discovered that my Censor at Fitzwilliam, W S Thatcher, was a good friend of the Mistress of Girton, Miss Butler.

He gave me a letter of introduction to the Mistress. She received me and I assured her that Choo would most likely take a “First”, because she was the better student when we both were at Raffles College.

I had come up late by one term to Cambridge, yet passed my first year qualifying examination with a class 1. She studied Choo’s academic record and decided to admit her in October that same year, 1947.

We have kept each other company ever since. We married privately in December 1947 at Stratford-upon-Avon. At Cambridge, we both put in our best efforts. She took a first in two years in Law Tripos II. I took a double first, and a starred first for the finals, but in three years.

We did not disappoint our tutors. Our Cambridge Firsts gave us a good start in life. Returning to Singapore, we both were taken on as legal assistants in Laycock & Ong, a thriving law firm in Malacca Street. Then we married officially a second time that September 1950 to please our parents and friends. She practised conveyancing and draftsmanship, I did litigation.

In February 1952, our first son Hsien Loong was born. She took maternity leave for a year.

That February, I was asked by John Laycock, the Senior Partner, to take up the case of the Postal and Telecommunications Uniformed Staff Union, the postmen’s union.

They were negotiating with the government for better terms and conditions of service. Negotiations were deadlocked and they decided to go on strike. It was a battle for public support. I was able to put across the reasonableness of their case through the press and radio. After a fortnight, they won concessions from the government. Choo, who was at home on maternity leave, pencilled through my draft statements, making them simple and clear.

Over the years, she influenced my writing style. Now I write in short sentences, in the active voice. We gradually influenced each other’s ways and habits as we adjusted and accommodated each other.

We knew that we could not stay starry-eyed lovers all our lives; that life was an on-going challenge with new problems to resolve and manage.

We had two more children, Wei Ling in 1955 and Hsien Yang in 1957. She brought them up to be well-behaved, polite, considerate and never to throw their weight as the prime minister’s children.

As a lawyer, she earned enough, to free me from worries about the future of our children.

She saw the price I paid for not having mastered Mandarin when I was young. We decided to send all three children to Chinese kindergarten and schools.

She made sure they learned English and Malay well at home. Her nurturing has equipped them for life in a multi-lingual region.

We never argued over the upbringing of our children, nor over financial matters. Our earnings and assets were jointly held. We were each other’s confidant.

She had simple pleasures. We would walk around the Istana gardens in the evening, and I hit golf balls to relax.

Later, when we had grandchildren, she would take them to feed the fish and the swans in the Istana ponds. Then we would swim. She was interested in her surroundings, for instance, that many bird varieties were pushed out by mynahs and crows eating up the insects and vegetation.

She discovered the curator of the gardens had cleared wild grasses and swing fogged for mosquitoes, killing off insects they fed on. She stopped this and the bird varieties returned. She surrounded the swimming pool with free flowering scented flowers and derived great pleasure smelling them as she swam.

She knew each flower by its popular and botanical names. She had an enormous capacity for words.

She had majored in English literature at Raffles College and was a voracious reader, from Jane Austen to JRR Tolkien, from Thucydides’ The Peloponnesian Wars to Virgil’s Aeneid, to The Oxford Companion to Food, and Seafood of Southeast Asia, to Roadside Trees of Malaya, and Birds of Singapore.

She helped me draft the Constitution of the PAP. For the inaugural meeting at Victoria Memorial Hall on 4 November 1954, she gathered the wives of the founder members to sew rosettes for those who were going on stage.

In my first election for Tanjong Pagar, our home in Oxley Road, became the HQ to assign cars provided by my supporters to ferry voters to the polling booth.

She warned me that I could not trust my new found associates, the leftwing trade unionists led by Lim Chin Siong. She was furious that he never sent their high school student helpers to canvass for me in Tanjong Pagar, yet demanded the use of cars provided by my supporters to ferry my Tanjong Pagar voters.

She had an uncanny ability to read the character of a person. She would sometimes warn me to be careful of certain persons; often, she turned out to be right.

When we were about to join Malaysia, she told me that we would not succeed because the UMNO Malay leaders had such different lifestyles and because their politics were communally-based, on race and religion.

I replied that we had to make it work as there was no better choice. But she was right.

We were asked to leave Malaysia before two years.

When separation was imminent, Eddie Barker, as Law Minister, drew up the draft legislation for the separation. But he did not include an undertaking by the Federation Government to guarantee the observance of the two water agreements between the PUB and the Johor state government. I asked Choo to include this. She drafted the undertaking as part of the constitutional amendment of the Federation of Malaysia Constitution itself.

She was precise and meticulous in her choice of words. The amendment statute was annexed to the Separation Agreement, which we then registered with the United Nations.

The then Commonwealth Secretary Arthur Bottomley said that if other federations were to separate, he hoped they would do it as professionally as Singapore and Malaysia.

It was a compliment to Eddie’s and Choo’s professional skills. Each time Malaysian Malay leaders threatened to cut off our water supply, I was reassured that this clear and solemn international undertaking by the Malaysian government in its Constitution will get us a ruling by the UNSC (United Nations Security Council).

After her first stroke, she lost her left field of vision. This slowed down her reading. She learned to cope, reading with the help of a ruler. She swam every evening and kept fit. She continued to travel with me, and stayed active despite the stroke. She stayed in touch with her family and old friends.

She listened to her collection of CDs, mostly classical, plus some golden oldies. She jocularly divided her life into “before stroke” and “after stroke”, like BC and AD.

She was friendly and considerate to all associated with her. She would banter with her WSOs (woman security officers) and correct their English grammar and pronunciation in a friendly and cheerful way. Her former WSOs visited her when she was at NNI. I thank them all.

Her second stroke on 12 May 2008 was more disabling. I encouraged and cheered her on, helped by a magnificent team of doctors, surgeons, therapists and nurses.

Her nurses, WSOs and maids all grew fond of her because she was warm and considerate. When she coughed, she would take her small pillow to cover her mouth because she worried for them and did not want to infect them.

Her mind remained clear but her voice became weaker. When I kissed her on her cheek, she told me not to come too close to her in case I caught her pneumonia.

I assured her that the doctors did not think that was likely because I was active.

When given some peaches in hospital, she asked the maid to take one home for my lunch. I was at the centre of her life.

On 24 June 2008, a CT scan revealed another bleed again on the right side of her brain. There was not much more that medicine or surgery could do except to keep her comfortable.

I brought her home on 3 July 2008. The doctors expected her to last a few weeks. She lived till 2nd October, 2 years and 3 months.

She remained lucid. They gave time for me and my children to come to terms with the inevitable. In the final few months, her faculties declined. She could not speak but her cognition remained.

She looked forward to have me talk to her every evening.

Her last wish she shared with me was to enjoin our children to have our ashes placed together, as we were in life.

The last two years of her life were the most difficult. She was bedridden after small successive strokes; she could not speak but she was still cognisant.

Every night she would wait for me to sit by her to tell her of my day’s activities and to read her favourite poems. Then she would sleep.

I have precious memories of our 63 years together. Without her, I would be a different man, with a different life. She devoted herself to me and our children.

She was always there when I needed her. She has lived a life full of warmth and meaning.

I should find solace at her 89 years of her life well lived. But at this moment of the final parting, my heart is heavy with sorrow and grief.

Li Shengwu delivering his eulogy

Mrs Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson Li Shengwu also gave a touching eulogy for his grandmother.

Li Shengwu’s Eulogy

“To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, And a time to die;

A time to weep, And a time to laugh;

A time to mourn, And a time to dance;

A time to gain, And a time to lose..” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-6)

President S R Nathan, Distinquished guests and family who are here to honour my grandmother’s memory, Ye Ye, Pe Pe, Gu Gu, Papa.

One of our family’s abiding institutions is the Sunday Lunch. Our three (once four) generations gather to Oxley Road on Sundays and share a meal.

When I was little, the grandchildren tended to eat far too fast and play far too loudly. I remember Nai Nai’s good humour as we mistook her rocking chair for a climbing frame.

In lieu of a television, Nai Nai provided a tall, well-stocked bookshelf next to the childrens’ table, and thereby contributed much of my early childhood literacy.

She chose our books well, and the selection was expansive, ranging from Peter Rabbit to a picture book on exotic animals (on the lowest shelf), from Roald Dahl to Arthurian legend (on the higher shelves).

I never saw what was on the highest shelf; it was a very tall bookshelf and I was not a very tall child.

Little did I suspect that the best books were on a yet higher shelf; up the stairs and in Nai Nai’s bedroom, where she kept the accumulated stories of a lifetime’s reading, a hoard of Chaucer and Shakespeare, the Sejarah Melayu, Confucius and Mencius, to which the cheery bookshelf downstairs was a mere shadow or stepping stone.

The King Arthur of Roger Lancelyn Green occupied the downstairs bookshelf; the King Arthur of Thomas Malory held court upstairs.

Without her urging or insistence, I inherited her love of the kind of stories that are now called fairy-tale or fantasy, but used to be, simply, stories.

It took me more than a decade to discover The Odyssey, Beowulf and Le Morte D’Arthur, but Nai Nai had the patience to sow the kinds of seeds that take long to fruit.

Nai Nai had the benefit of a classical education, and upon returning from my studies overseas I discovered that she had long been reading the Greek philosophers that I had late come to appreciate.

Well-worn copies of Plato’s Republic and Symposium occupied places near her bedside. I wish we’d had the chance to talk about them.

It is well to say that Nai Nai lives on in memory, but she was more than memory. She was a great person; lively, quick-minded and kind.

Her passing is to us an inconsolable loss, and it cuts keenly.

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has for decades been a family favourite. In its final chapters, at the parting of the fellowship, the wizard Gandalf counsels, “Go in peace! I will not say, ‘Do not weep!’, for not all tears are an evil.”

Ye Ye and Nai Nai’s lives are a story to occupy many volumes. Coming late into the narrative, I am a minor character who has missed many chapters.

I cannot bear witness to the earlier plot twists, climaxes and denouements. But I know that they have loved one another steadfastly, through many trials and joys.

The Bard tells us,

“Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! It is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose Worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.” (William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116)

Nai Nai and Ye Ye have been, to me, an example of that kind of love.

Nai Nai’s grandchildren arrived relatively late in her life, and she loved each one dearly. When Huanwu and I were children, we became entangled in a book on Cat’s Cradle, a game of string figures played with a loop of twine and four hands.

Seeing our difficulty, Nai Nai carefully unknotted our initial attempts, and showed us new spiderweb configurations mentioned nowhere in the book’s pages.

She passed to her grandchildren a love of learning and reading, as well as the kind of knowledge not found in print.

Samuel Butler wrote,

“I fall asleep in the full and certain hope

That my slumber shall not be broken;

And that though I be all-forgetting,

Yet shall I not be forgotten,

But continue that life in the thoughts and deeds

Of those I loved.”

We love you, Nai Nai, and we will remember you.

If you wish to see more photos of the funeral, go to this link.

Farewell, Mrs Lee Kuan Yew!

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Today is a sad day. At about 8.00am this morning, my father-in-law passed away. Last night we were all at the house of one of my sister-in-laws to celebrate the birthday of her son. My father-in-law was there though he did not eat much.  We went home at about 10.15 pm and after taking our bathe, we were thinking of calling it a day when we received news that my father-in-law had been rushed to Columbia Specialist Centre as he was feeling very unwell.

We rushed to Columbia and was told that my father-in-law would be sent to Miri General Hospital as his condition was very serious. About half an hour after our arrival, my father-in-law was rushed to Miri General Hospital in an ambulance. He was already unconscious.

We spent the whole night at the hospital and only went home at about 7.30 am this morning to take our bathe and a rest. But shortly after taking our bathe, we received news that our father-in-law had passed away. So without any chance for rest, we rushed to my father-in-law’s house.  We have been  there for the whole day and only canme back a short while ago to take our bathe. We will going to my father-in-law’s house after this so this blog post of mine seems a bit rushed.

Life is so unpredictable at times.  I hope my father-in-law will rest in peace. He is with the Lord now!

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Congratulations to my niece Michelle and her hubby Hui Seng on the birth of their daughter Abigail today. Of all the blessings God sends from above, the most precious is a new baby to love. Abigail will truly be a bundle of joy for you both.

Cherish This Time (By Joanna Fuchs)

So your baby is here!
What joy and what pleasure!
Now your life is expanding,
To make room for this treasure.

A darling newcomer
To have and to hold–
Her smiles are more precious
Than silver or gold.

She’ll demolish your schedule
Though she’s helpless and small;
She’ll make her needs known,
And she’ll rule over all.

See, a new parent’s work
Is just never quite done,
But you’ll never mind,
‘Cause it’s all so much fun.

When you hear her cute giggle
You’ll start “aahing” and “oohing,”
And she’ll soon reply back
By “ga ga” and “goo gooing.”

Those big innocent eyes
See a world strange and new;
To make sense of it all
She’ll look only to you.

So cherish this time
Of miraculous things–
The excitement and wonder
That a new baby brings.

Congratulations also go to my sister and my brother-in-law……you two have a new granddaughter to brighten up your days even more! The birth of a new granddaughter is a reminder of just how wonderful life really can be.


Abigail Lau

I know Christmas is more than seven months away but I would like to dedicate the song “When A Child Is Born” to my niece and her hubby. Today marks the beginning of your journey as parents. I have no doubts that Abigail will bring lots of joy and happiness into your life.

When A Child Is Born

A ray of hope flickers in the sky

A tiny star lights up way up high
All across the land, dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born

A silent wish sails the seven seas
The winds of change whisper in the trees
And the walls of doubt crumble, tossed and torn
This comes to pass when a child is born

A rosy hue settles all around
You’ve got the feel you’re on solid ground
For a spell or two, no-one seems forlorn
This comes to pass when a child is born

And all of this happens because the world is waiting
Waiting for one child
Black, white, yellow, no-one knows
But a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter
Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone’s neighbour
And misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten, forever

It’s all a dream, an illusion now
It must come true, sometime soon somehow
All across the land, dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born

Sit back, relax and enjoy Connie Talbot’s rendition of “When A Child Is Born”.

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Today is Mother’s Day 2010. Cherish your mother and shower your love upon her. No gift to your mother can ever equal her gift to you : life. To the world your mother might just be one person, but to you she should be the world. And to all the fathers the most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. It has been said that a man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.

Happy Mother's Day

On this special day, I wish to dedicate the following quotations to all the mothers in this world:

Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother (Lin Yutang, Chinese writer).

Your arms were always open when I needed a hug. Your heart understood when I needed a friend. Your gentle eyes were stern when I needed a lesson. Your strength and love has guided me and gave me wings to fly (Sarah Malin).

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavour by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts (Washington Irving (1783-1859).

There is no velvet so soft as a mother’s lap, no rose as lovely as her smile, no path so flowery as that imprinted with her footsteps (Archibald Thompson).

Youth fades;love droops; the leaves of friendship fall. A mother’s secret love outlives them all (Oliver Wendell Holmes,Sr).

A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary (Dorothy Canfield Fisher)

Mother is the name for god on the lips and hearts of all children (Brandon Bruce Lee).

Every mother is like Moses. She does not enter the Promised Land. She prepares a world that she will not see (Pope Paul VI).

God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers (Jewish Proverb).

The Mother’s Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe was a powerful call for the need of official celebration of Mother’s Day. Written in 1870, Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe’s feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level. Miss Howe was the first person in US to recognize the need for Mother’s Day holiday. She was successful in raising awareness amongst the masses and pushing her plead to the upper echelons of power.

Julia Ward Howe

Following this very potent Proclamation made in 1870, the Mothers’ Peace Day Observance was held on the second Sunday in June, 1872. Such observances began to take place each year thereafter and paved the way for Mothers’ Day Holiday in US on the second Sunday of May.

Though Ms Howe could not herself get the day recognized as the official holiday, she is revered for her significant contributions towards the celebration of the day and for bestowing honor on mothers.

Julia Ward Howe is also famous as the writer of the Civil War song, ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’.

Mothers’ Day Proclamation
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly: “We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We women of one country will be too tender to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says “Disarm! Disarm!” The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.

As men have forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his time the sacred impress not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe
Boston 1870

To all mothers, Happy Mother’s Day! And to my wife, my mum and my mother-in-law, I pray that you will all be blessed abundantly for fulfilling your roles as mothers so lovingly and successfully.

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April 24 was the 2010 Curtin University of Technology (Miri) Graduation Ceremony Day. It was a special occasion for my family as our younger son Leslie received his Bachelor of Commerce degree (majoring in Accounting & Finance) at the convocation. Leslie completed his degree in June last year. Curtin Miri  holds graduation convocation only once a year so Leslie had to wait till this convocation to receive his degree.

My elder son Clarence flew back from Penang on April 22 to attend Leslie’s convocation.  He is having his study break to prepare for his final CPA paper exams. Upon completion of  three years’ working experience in a couple of months’ time , he will be a full-fledged CPA. Leslie will also be pursuing the CPA  qualification like his brother.

To Leslie and Clarence, mum and dad are proud of you both. It has been such a joy to see you both grow up into such fine adults.

A scene from the convocation

Graduates throwing their graduation hats in the air

Graduates throwing their graduation hats in the air

Leslie receiving his degree from Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr. George Chan Hong Nam

The happy graduate

Me, Clarence, Leslie & my wife Jennie

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Binatang…..that is the name of the town that I was born in.  I don’t know the ” who how why what” behind that name.  Whoever gave the town that name must have been an animal lover because Binatang is a Malay word meaning animal. The town was renamed Bintangor due to the negative connotations of the “animal” tag. What do you call the inhabitants of a town named Animal?

I have fond memories of my life in Bintangor where I lived till I was 17. I had my primary and secondary school education at St Augustine Primary School and Kai Chung Middle School ( its name at that time) respectively. In a small town, everyone seemed to know each other.  Growing up in such a small town is truly a great experience. As kids, we played hide-and-seek and cop-and-robber around the town without any fear of being knocked down by cars as there were so few cars then. We swam in the Rejang River……we dived from the wharves into the river, often trying to show off our diving skills like doing a couple of somersaults before hitting the water.  As we swam, we waved at passengers on MV Pulau Kijang and MV Rajah Mas when these ships passed through Bintangor.

During my trip back to Kuching for Ching Ming Festival early this month, I asked my brothers and my mum whether they had any photos of mine when I was a kid.  I only have a few such photos and I was hoping to add more to my collection.  What a joy it was when my eldest brother said he had a few.  Upon returning to Miri, I asked my brother to lend me the photos so that I could scan them.

These photos really sent me on a trip down memory lane…….here they are…..don’t laugh at my hair style or the way I was dressed….bear in mind, these photos were taken in the 1960s.

Sitting on my dad's one-of-its-kind tricycle

Posing near Rejang River

Playing with a honey bear

Playing with a honey bear

Taken in my dad's orchard....cool pose, haha!

Taken near my dad's kerosene storage depot

Taken with my mum and my third brother in front of our shop.

Taken with my parents, my third brother, my sister and my "adopted" brother just before he left for Canada

Taken with my parents, my third brother, my sister and my "adopted" brother just before he left for Canada

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I went to Kuching on the morning of  April 2 for Ching Ming Festival and returned to Miri last night.  I had an enjoyable three days in Kuching where I stayed with my second brother. My eldest brother flew to Kuching from Miri a day earlier than me. My two brothers, my mum and I talked a lot about our younger days in Bintangor and our family history.

On my first night in Kuching, my second brother treated us to a sumptuous meal at a seafood restaurant. My sister, my brother-in-law and their youngest daughter were there. And I met Pending State Assemblywoman Violet Yong in person for the first time. She was sitting in a table near us and she came over to say hi as she knows my sister well.

Photo of Violet Yong from sarawakupdate.com

Photo of Violet Yong from sarawakupdate.com

We went to our father’s grave at about 7.10 am on  April 3. We did the customary chores of cleaning up the tombstone and removing the weeds. My sister even bought 2 paper shirts and a pair of paper sports shoes for my dad. My sister said she wanted to encourage my dad to exercise in the other world, haha!

Some time around noon on April 3, my friend John Wong came to pick me to meet up with another ex-schoolmate Goh Leng Yew. We had a simple nice lunch by the poolside at Sarawak Club. We shared our experiences, reminisced about my time at Kolej Tuanku Bujang in Miri, exchanged news about other schoolmates of ours. John is a mechanical engineer attached to JKR while Goh is a successful businessman who owns an engineering consultancy firm and a  mineral water factory in Kuching. Leng Yew, thanks for the treat! And John, thank you too for always finding time to meet up with me whenever I am in Kuching.

When John sent me back to my brother’s house, I met my grand nephew Derek Cheu for the first time.  Derek is the son of my niece Angel Lim (my second brother’s daughter). He is such a cute baby who is not shy of strangers. He didn’t mind at all when I carried him.

Little Derek

Little Derek

That night, my sister and my brother-in-law treated us to another sumptuous dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  I met my grand niece Janice again…she has grown a lot since I last saw her almost a year ago. She is such a smart little girl. Though she is not even three, she can speak and sing very well. Now that I have a grand nephew and 2 grand nieces, it is a sure sign that I am  getting old!

My sister and her granddaughter Janice

My sister and her granddaughter Janice

My brother, Derek and my mum

My second brother and his grandson Derek

After dinner, we went to my sister’s house to watch the Manchester United-Chelsea clash. Oh, it was so disappointing to see MU lose due to a controversial offside goal. MU’s hope of retaining the English Premier League championship has been very seriously dented now, thanks to the linesman.

My good friend Poh Ted Ang dropped by my sister’s house to pick me up for a chit-chat. He decided to go to Oriental Pearl Reflexology for a one-hour reflexology session. By the way, before you start jumping to the wrong conclusion, this reflexology outlet offers genuine reflexology and not what some of you may be thinking. We were each served by a male masseur from China. The masseur put a basin of hot water containing some herbs in front of me and asked me to immerse my legs in the water. The water was quite hot and I instinctively recoiled with shock when I put my legs into the water, haha! The masseur started by massaging my neck and shoulders. Oh gosh! There were times that I felt like screaming in pain! But I know that if I can endure the pain, I will feel so much better once it is over.  When the session was over, I really felt very relaxed. Thank you for picking up the tab, Ted Ang!

Yesterday morning, my eldest brother and I went shopping for butter cakes and “kompian”. I bought several butter cakes at the Mita Cake House at Satok. The shop was enjoying brisk business when I popped into the shop. Its butter cakes are tasty as they use a lot of butter unlike a lot of other cake shops that scrimp on butter when making cakes. After that, we went to buy the Foochow delicacy “kompian”.

Yesterday afternoon, as I had to meet someone near Sunny Hill Ice-cream, I thought of tasting the famous Sunny Hill ice-cream. But there was a queue of people waiting to be served and the queue was moving at such a slow pace. I gave up  and went back to my brother’s house after meeting the person that I had an appointment with.I guess I will try the next time I am in Kuching as my brother’s house is quite near Sunny Hill Ice Cream.

The slow-moving queue at Sunny Hill Ice Cream

The slow-moving queue at Sunny Hill Ice Cream

I left Kuching at about 7.40pm and arrived back in Miri at about 8.35 pm. Being rather tired, I retired to bed after a quick dinner of “char kuay teow” that I had bought at Pelita Commercial Center on the way from the airport to my house. I think I was sound asleep within a few minutes after hitting the bed!

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Almost a fortnight has gone by since my last blog article.  After all the Chinese New Year visiting and activities, I got bitten by the lazy bug and have just been relaxing. I guess it is time to get back into the normal day-to-day routine again.

During the first few days of the Chinese New Year, my family visited the houses of quite a lot of relatives. With my son Clarence and his girl friend back from Penang to spend the Chinese New Year with us, our house was  noisier and livelier than usual.

During the course of our Chinese New Year visiting, we came across this house with its water meter secured with barbed wire to prevent theft of the meter. It is truly surprising that there are people who would resort to stealing water meters but I have read newspaper reports about such thefts.

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In another relative’s house, we came across quite a number of unwelcomed visitors. These visitors were crawling on the floor and the walls….upon closer examination, these visitors turned out to be dog lice! A relative of mine tried to kill the lice that he saw.

Killing dog lices crawling on the floor!Killing dog lice crawling on the floor!

The lion dance troupe from Democratic Action Party (DAP) passed through our housing estate and performed a short dance in the garage of my house.  Here in Miri, it is a very common practice for lion dance troupes from Chinese schools, associations and political parties to perform from house to house to raise funds. It adds to the Chinese New Year mood.

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An unfortunate event happened on the third day of the Chinese New Year . One of my relatives hosted an open house on that day and we dropped by his house. My relative had ordered several dishes from a Malay so we savored the food. That night, both of my sons and I came down with bad diarhoea. My son Clarence was the most seriously affected as he had fever in addition to a severe case of diarhoea. I immediately suspected that the cause must be the curry that we had taken at the open house. My wife was not affected as she did not take the curry. The next day we found out that a lot of our other relatives who had been to the open house had diarhoea. And my relative who hosted the open house later told us he only found out that there was something wrong with the curry later that night. The curry had turned frothy!

My son Clarence and Amanda left Miri for Penang on the fourth day of the Chinese New Year. I felt so sad to see them go. And I felt so sorry for Clarence as he was still unwell from the food poisoning with bouts of fever as well as sore throat. On arrival in Penang, he had to see a doctor immediately and had to take the following day off as a medical leave.

Today is the twelfth day of the Chinese New Year. And in three more days, it is Chap Go Meh ….another round of big makan (eating) again!

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