Late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and late Mr S R Nathan are “rats who sold out people”? Come on, States Times Review, even Workers’ Party’s JB Jeyaretnam worked as translator for the Japanese. Why didn’t smear him too? Do you geniuses think that they and our forefathers can survive without obeying?
We didn’t know whether we would become part of the Japanese empire. The war might end and we would be no longer under the British but part of the Japanese empire. So I attended the classes in Syonan – Singapore, I suppose. At the end of it, I had a certificate graduating from the class. I think it was for three months, the course. I was by then fairly proficient with the Japanese language. I could speak it and understand what they were saying. When I returned with this certificate, this man who had started the Japanese classes in Johore Bahru was expanding and he was starting classes in Muar where I had lived. He wanted me to go to Muar to teach the language there in Muar. I suppose I was excited, yes. Getting my first job, going to live alone but I don’t reckon with my father. He wasn’t going to have anything to do with that. He said, ‘No!’ and it was final. I was not to go to… I was quite disappointed and I suppose felt a bit of anger and resentment against him. But that was and he said, ‘Well, if you want to work, I’ll find you a job.’ So he found me a job in the Census Department.”
Following his short stint in the Census Department, he went on to be an interpreter in the Transport Department.
“After about six months, the department closed, I suddenly saw an advertisement that the Transport Department wanted an interpreter. So I went along and applied and got it, working this time for Japanese bosses, military officers who were heading the department. One of the things, of course that drove me to it was the Japanese from quite early were press ganging boys, youths who were not working and taking them off to work in Siam as it was then called. The Death Railway, they were building a railway there. So we had to avoid that and the only way you could avoid it was to have a job, especially if you were working in a government department.
I don’t think I was paid very much. I was paid something like 200, 300 Japanese dollars. But as part of our wages, or as a supplement to our wages, we were given cigarette packets every month. I think besides cigarette packets, we also had biscuits for some. I remember the first thing we did, I used to get the packets and so did the other staff; the first thing was to run with it to the black market and sell those cigarette packs at huge prices. This is more so after a year or so, not immediate. But the prices were going up and then we could sell the cigarette packets more than we were paid. Rice was costing a lot. Anyway, rice was rationed. We had to turn to tapioca. We grew some tapioca in our own compound and quite often our meal was just pure tapioca, boiled tapioca and eaten with chilli samba. It’s quite good, yes. Even now, sometimes I ask for tapioca with chilli samba in my house.”