Friday, June 20, 2008

Sybil...the heroine from the Kinta Valley.....

Sybil Kathigasu was born in Medan shifted to Penang and married Dr AC Kathigasu. Her full name is Sybil Medan Daly. A Eurasian and a catholic. From what i read in the book a very staunch catholic too. I had bought her book 'No Dram of Mercy' a year ago but only read it a few months ago mainly for want of something to read. However when I read the second paragraph at the start of the first chapter..............

( pls click on the poster to enlarge)
"..Ipoh a growing town on the banks of the Kinta River ...round the town were the still peaceful hills , rounded hills, bluish white in the sunshine with trees spilling over their upper slopes like green paint spilling out of a tube..." well that was it..what she saw 60 years ago in the Kinta Valley were the same beautiful hills that i still see today. Hmm..the book would be interesting reading...what was life like in those days..Papan town, the hills of Gunung Kledang behind it, Batu Gajah, the local characters that she reacted with..she was a mid wife, she spoke fluent cantonese and tended to patients from Batu Gajah to Chemor..she had 3 cars..imagine this was in 1941..Ipoh had alot of roads then..her amah lived in the area around the airport!! This book is about Sybil helping the wounded chinese guerillas during the war. These guerillas subsequently became the MCP or Malayan Communist Party...which is a reason why the book has been missing from the book shelves for so long.From what i read she had stayed behind because her elderly mother was with her and she could not leave. At Papan she had treated the guerillas. It was very risky but it was the humanitarian thing to do. For that she and the Doctor were arrested and tortured. I feel that she mustered her courage from her strong faith in her religon.She died from the injuries sustained during her torture at the hands of the dreaded Sergeant Yoshimura head of the Kempetai in Ipoh. Yoshimura was subsequently sentenced to death by hanging by the Perak War Crimes Tribunal . The residents of Ipoh hated Yoshimura and had offered to "build the public gallows for his hanging should be made a public one"
Sybil died in the UK. When her coffin returned to Malaya "great crowds witnessed her arrival in Penang and then again in Ipoh . Men and women of all races attended her funeral." She is buried at the St Michaels Church cemetery. For her courage King George VI awarded her the George Medal the highest British civilian award for bravery.

The book has now been made into a drama entitled Sybil. Produced by the Actors Studio KL (refer to page 10 of the ipoh echo-click on the image to emlarge the write up)

it will be performing at Taman Budaya Ipoh next Wednesday till Friday.Check it out. The fund raiser for the Perak Heritage Society is the last play on Friday 27th.
Coincidentally ..the opening night of the play at KL on 12th June was the same day that she passed away. I'm posting several shots where Sybil lived.

The clinic of Dr AC Kathigasu at # 141 Brewster Road ( the one with all the electrical adverts.)

Sybil's house at Papan during Chinese New Year this year. The house is maintained by the chairman of the Perak Heritage Society, Law Siak Hong. The house is as it was 60 years ago.

....the nice house as you enter Papan Town.

..long standing coffee shop in Papan ?....

main road Papan Town.

..the hills behind Papan Town. This is the road leading to the herbal park. The guerillas might have passed through here to get to Sybil's clinic.

Sybils resting place at the cemetery in St Michaels Church.

cheers !


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