Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chiang Kai Shek or Chiang Chung Cheng

Note the Chinese Nationalist or Kuo Ming Tang Flag on the right of the photo. This was the first graduation of Kwong Chien School July 1928. Note also the photo of Dr. Sun Yat Sen. Source: Sibu Chinese History Collection 1992 via Sarikei Time Capsule.

This was the flag that many Chinese continued to fly in Sarawak unofficially for several occasions that they saw fit,1911 to 1949. Sarawak then was fairly liberal according to an aged "uncle".

He said that he even learned the National Anthem of China under Chiang Kai Shek. He just "followed" what was dictated by the primary school headmaster who was engaged from China.

He only knew that as a Chinese this was his flag even though he was born in Sibu. Furthermore all the elders at that time talked about "going back to China". He said that politics was never mentioned. When his parents and relatives got together they usually refered to "government" meaning the government of the then Rajah and later theColonial government.

Later it meant "sin min di" or Colonial Government.

What government meant to him was the permission to own or buy land (grant} and getting an identitiy card or birth certificate. He said that it was important that they gave the government due respect and honour. Police was not necessary he said as the people were very orderly. I thought this idea was truly remarkable. What was there to control? He asked me.

Going to the "government" was going to the "bo leh" (Foochow word for glass).

Most of the problems or issues like fights,family disputes,and land disputes were solved by the Foochow headman or "tou nern". Things seemed to be well taken care of.

It was only in the 50's and 60's that things changed and politics became a real word to him.

When I asked him about nationalism he said that he had little to offer - no money to remit to China, and not interested in becoming a soldier in China. He said that after all he was just a very young boy then. He only knew he had to make a fortune to the best of his ability. When the Second World war came his hopes were quite dashed.

Today he has nothing much to say except that life was quite hard and he is one of those "time left behind" because he lost his opportunity to go to school when he should. What can one year of education in 1941 do for you today?

Very briefly he said something about Sun Yat Sen the Founder of Modern China according to him.

He mentioned that his own father was patriotic to China and was very happy when China became a republic. He vaguely remembered some of the old stories about the Ching Dynasty. But he had forgotten most of the things his father said.

At his age he only felt that living a simple, worthwhile life was good enough. Struggling for power was really a waste of time and even life. This was related to the communist struggle in Sibu. He said that he saw too many people going away and never coming home again. Perhaps it was good that he was unable to read and write.

I like what he said,"We are all humans after all. Why fight so much?"

Chiang Kai Shek was a well respected by the Overseas Chinese and the Chinese of Sarawak. During the war years many Chinese supported the war cause by sending back a lot of funds to help Chiang.

And when China won the war against the Japanese there was a great deal of joy.

Later during the subsequent years of nationalism the Overseas Chinese had to decide where their affiliation should be. In Thailand overseas Chinese adopted
Thai names. In Indonesia after a long struggle the Chinese became assimilated into the indigenous population.

However the ethnicity of the Chinese remain strong and well respected in many other countries. The various governments permit them to have their own parochial schools,places of worship and even their own festivals. 20th century and 21st century have actually seen a great deal of respect for diversity.

Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek (traditional Chinese: 蔣介石 / 蔣中正; simplified Chinese: 蒋介石 / 蒋中正; pinyin: Jiǎng Jièshí; Wade-Giles: Chiang Chieh-Shih; POJ: Chiúⁿ Kài-se̍k; Jyutping: zoeng2gaai3sek6), GCB (October 31, 1887 – April 5, 1975), served as Generalissimo (Chairman of the National Military Council) of the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China (ROC) from 1928 to 1948. He was sometimes referred to simply as "the Generalissimo". When Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, Kai-shek took control of the Kuomintang (KMT). To end the Warlord era and unify China, Chiang led nationalist troops in the Northern Expedition. He became the overall leader of the ROC in 1928.[2] Chiang led China in the Second Sino-Japanese War, during which the Nationalist Government's power severely weakened, but his prominence grew. During the civil war after the Japanese surrender in 1945, he attempted to eradicate the Chinese Communists but ultimately failed, forcing his KMT government to retreat to Taiwan, where he continued the struggle against the communist regime. Serving as the President of the Republic of China and Director-General of the KMT, Chiang died in 1975.

Throughout his rise to power, Chiang Kai-Shek also benefited from membership of the nationalist Tiandihui fraternity, to which Sun Yat-Sen also belonged, and which remained a source of support during his leadership of China and later Taiwan.

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