Winston to William

In the early 1950’s British Malaya and Singapore were in the process of establishing independence to become a sovereign nation named Malaysia.  The state of the country revealed a clear dichotomy.  The major economic wealth of the area was definitely dependent upon the tin mines and the rubber plantations owned mainly by the Chinese elites.  The political power, however, rested chiefly on the 7 Malay Sultan families who governed and ruled all the provinces.  One main objective of the new government was to try to reduce and distribute the economic power more widely.  Among many new rules considered, one method chosen to make it harder for Chinese was as follows.  Life-long Chinese Malays who may have lived there for generations must prove their loyalty by committing not to leave the country, except for excused limited short periods for five years. The government ruled that all Asian non-citizens (in order to continue to remain in Malaya) must apply and renew their Visas every six months.  We, the Chu family, being non-citizens without a country, therefore had to obey and comply.  The ‘white’ missionaries were exempted.  Furthermore, non-citizen Chinese students were only allowed to attend school freely up to sixth grade; after that, intentions to continue must be submitted to the authorities and evaluated on a case by case situation.  Winston and I were already finishing the sixth grade.

Dad felt that the English people must have played a major role in establishing these new rules.  He was so upset and angry that he impetuously changed Winston’s name to William as his protest gesture!  Living in British Malaya, we were eligible to apply to become British subjects, but he had no desire to pursue that option.

Sister Added

The weather in Malaya was predictable, constantly hot!  We were situated in the Southwest Pacific just a few degrees north of the Equator.  After our January arrival in Malaya, we started going to school in the afternoon in Kuala Lumpur.  It was absolute torture; a chronic struggle to just stay awake, let alone pay any attention in class.  Fortunately, a new school was opening in Petaling Jaya for the Fall semester in 1953 with morning classes.  Lacking sufficient properly trained teachers, the principal made a deal that if Mother would help him by teaching the Chinese classes, he would allow all three of us Chu kids to attend that school.  This was a great solution; at least in the morning, the hot temperature was more tolerable and having just awakened, we all felt much less sleepy.  As part of our curriculum, we had to learn the new Malay language.

Over time our family became well assimilated and accepted by the local people.  The daily night school program continued.  Dad’s work at Good Shepherd prospered noticeably with new Christians joining the church and bringing others to attend with them.  Sunday worships were packed.

Life was good and we were happy.  In addition we were told that we are going to have another sibling.  How much better can living be?

Saturday before Pentecost, 1955, Mother went into labor and was taken to a hospital in Kuala Lumpur.  On Sunday morning, after learning that he has a new-born daughter, Dad discovered his car was out of gas.  Winston and I somehow found a 4 foot hose and Dad used it to siphon gasoline out of a reserve tank, coughing and choking himself constantly.

When we arrived at the hospital, we met our sister.  My first impression of her was not complementary.  Her head was totally bald and awkwardly pointed, and her eyes were more than half way down the face, she looked as if her head was attached up-side-down to her neck!  I must confess, I was not a big brother filled with pride but sensed a responsibility that I must take care of her as I did my brothers.  Due to my ignorance, I did not understand that her distorted head appearance was the normal result of the birth process.

The hospital staff also showed very subdued emotions.  But after realizing that we really wanted a girl because our family already had three boys, they became much more excited.  Our baby sister was named Elizabeth, born on Pentecost Sunday, May 29, 1955.