Monday, November 05, 2012

Han Suyin (September 12, 1917 – November 2, 2012)

Eurasian author Han Suyin whose real name was Rosalie Elisabeth Kuanghu Chow died on Nov 2 at her home in Lausanne, Switzerland. She was 95.

She was best remembered for her best-selling semi-autobiographical novel “A Many-Splendored Thing".

Bapak had an entire collection of her books, one of which, for me stood out. It was  "And The Rain My Drink", a  novel she wrote when she was married to Leon F. Comber, a British officer who worked in the Malayan Special Branch in Johor after the World War Two.
Han Suyin's pseudonym was Elizabeth Comber.

Some people believe that the book - a vivid depiction of  pre-independent Malaya - was also semi-autobiographical as Han Suyin used to work at the Johor Bahru General Hospital during the Emergency.

Here is The Washington Post article on her death.


Anonymous said...

Aaah, good that your blog doesn't have the robotic requirement to prove that I'm a robot.

Will leave a comment or two after this.

Anonymous said...

One UK obituary of Han Suyin mentioned she was as mixed up during her 90+ years as China was for hundreds if not thousands of years. But that was out of mixed parentage, mixed-race love affairs, mixed places of domicile, and the differing Western and Asian values she was exposed to in the process.

What baffles me is the local Malaysians, including Malays, having mixed-up, even unacceptable, values. Those wanting to appear liberal and yet are actually only pseudo-liberal at best.

For how can, for example, a Malay speaks against the NEP, not appreciating the need to level the playing field for the Malays, the majority in the country, who have been left far behind educationally and economically as a result of the British colonial policies.

Or assisting Chinese schools when they want Mandarin as the medium of instruction, clearly contradicting Article 152 of the Constitution stating that mother tongue (Mandarin is not even a mother tongue) may only be used other than for official purposes, and schools are the official purpose of any country.

And wanting to promote LBGT or protect the security of Israel when the Zionist Israelis have been bullying the Palestinians all these years.

Yards can be written about these, but suffice to say just the above for now and point out that Han Suyin, while she even supported Mao Zedong's so-called Cultural Revolution, was well regarded by the then Chinese Premier Chou En Lai. That, like the affable and somewhat trusted-by-the West Chou En Lai, separated her far from the Red Guards, the Communist Chinese Party cadres and the thugs, gangsters and goons of China during the period.

Anonymous said...

Han Suyin was a medical doctor, who said in one of her several autobiographies, could be a specialist, but chose to be a writer.

That she could afford to do, as the Chinese have not been short of them despite the killings in the millions since the Revolution in China, the civil wars and World wars, and the politically initiated social upheaval caused by Mao Zedong in the 1960s.

But in Malaysia where the % of medical doctors among the Malays - indeed among Malaysians as a whole - is still inadequate, I hear about Malay doctors wanting to go after a calling other than what they have trained for and vast sums of money have been spent. It's a shame.

Not just politics, but calling in other arenas, too, like business, with varying degrees of success. But business like running their own clinics, or a string of clinics, or even setting up a specialist hospital, are all welcome. There needs to be increased Malay participation in business and, being a race not having a culture of doing business but only of "berdagang" or barter trade, engaging in business where they have the expertise as doctors should provide better chances of success.

The book, "Tamadun Alam Melayu", published by the Historical Society of Malaysia, explains the "tamadun" of only "berdagang", rather than profit taking and wealth accumulation that "business" is all about. The book is available at the Wisma Sejarah, in their 5 storey building opposite IJN, Jalan Tun A Razak, KL.

But good for Han Suyin. Many books she wrote were published. The "A Many Splendoured Thing" became a best seller and a movie made out of it. She became rich and had a comfortable life.


anon@10:08AM : Sorry...lost you there. ???

Anonymous said...

NURAINA @ 4:24 PM,

I might have mistaken your blog with another with a similar sounding name - that required filling in time-wasting particulars to ensure that I wasn't a robot, it said. Excuse me for mistaking it.