Sybil Kathigasu new stories, same legend

James Wong Wing On

Published
Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

Until early 1980s, the name and legend of Sybil Kathigasu was very well-known in Malaysia, especially in the Ipoh-centered Kinta Valley.

The Christian Eurasian woman ( pix ) - who was very un-apologetically pro-colonial and spoke Cantonese - was particularly remembered by older generations of Chinese residents of Ipoh and its satellite township Papan as one simple, kind-hearted and extraordinarily brave soul who saved many lives and inspired those in despair during the 44-month Japanese occupation from December 1941 to August 1945. To those who are younger, her legend is preserved in her wartime memoirs No Dram of Mercy first published in 1954.

According to the legend, the simple housewife of Dr AC Kathigasu, who operated a clinic at No.141 at Brewster Road in Ipoh, secretly helped to supply medicines and medical services to the anti-Japanese guerrilla forces in Papan where she and her family lived as war refugees. She also helped them to illegally keep shortwave radio sets and listen to broadcasts from Britain and the outside world. Because of those 'subversive' activities she and her husband were arrested, tortured and detained until the war ended.

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