Sybil Kathigasu (nee Daly) was a Eurasian nurse born in Medan, Indonesia but later dwelt in Perak with her doctor husband. She had been smuggling and giving medicines to those who were fighting the Japanese during the 3 years of Nippon’s Occupation in Malaya. When her activity was found out, she was captured and tortured. The injuries badly affected her body that although after Japanese raised the white flag and she was flown to England for treatment, she couldn’t be saved and died. There is a road in Ipoh, Perak that immortalized her name to commemorate her heroic deeds.
Google remembered Kathigasu’s 117th birthday last year with its beautiful doodle.
The Studio Actor’s revival on Sybil Kathigasu’s heroic deeds.
As a primary school teacher and now under the KSSR policy introduced since 2011, I teach Science and English at my school, SK Serendah at the district of Hulu Selangor. Although I am a Science teacher by designation, I am also assigned and MUST teach English due to the fact that I passed the Cambridge Placement Test in 2014 and I took the RM3000 incentive and as part of the deal, I HAVE to teach English as long as I am serving as school teacher (REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/a-science-teacher-who-teaches-english-result-of-the-cambridge-placement-test-cpt-2012/). Now, there is a chapter called “Real-Life Heroes” in Year 5 English Text Book and Sybil Kathigasu was depicted in it along with other unsung heroes such as Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood and Datin Paduka A. Mangalam.
The book on her. One day, I want to read this book!
The image used in the Year 5 English textbook. Teaching suburban pupils is not easy. I have to explain the historical lineage of Eurasian prior going “in-depth” on Kathigasu’s history. That is the extra miles that a primary school teacher has to go in order to embed the lessons in the pupils’ minds.
A road in Ipoh is dedicated to Sybil Kathigasu.
I am historical freak. I got excited when I teach historical component incorporated in English Language syllabus to my pupils. As the set induction, I showed to my pupils the dramatization clips of Sybil Kathigasu’s heroic deeds (which by the way was in Malay Language! That’s easier for my suburban pupils to relate to!), starring Kathigasu’s own grandniece, actress and ex-Miss Malaysia Elaine Daly as Miss Kathigasu. The silverscreen adaptation was directed by Bernard Chauly and boasted local casts such as Beto Khusyairy, etc. When my pupils saw the scene where Japanese oppressed our local people and Kathigasu (played by Daly) was tortured by the Kempetai, they were angry and sad; and finally understood what I have been saying in the class about appreciating our forefathers and ancestors who have been fighting the trespassing colonists! Well, that was me, BEFORE I pursue my PhD journey. Now that I am so engrossed with my doctoral degree thesis and recently as The Treasurer of Parents & Teachers Association (PTA a.k.a. PIBG), I have to admit that my enthusiasm to give my all to the pupils is a bit faded. I do give my best in sense of all the input I have but to book the computer lab, to create fun-with-realia activities or anything that needs preparations prior to the lessons – are not in my book, anymore.
Sybil Kathigasu’s own grandniece, ex-Miss Malaysia Elaine Daly played her in “Apa Dosaku?” – a silverscreen adaptation of Sybil Kathigasu’s heroic deeds.
Anyway, this issue with Sybil Kathigasu has been in the picture since last year. I remember reading how a reader lamented that Kathigasu is being “overlooked” by The Authority and her deeds were not appreciated and that reader “suggested” that Kathigasu to be incorporated in the text books so that younger generation would know her. BUT LITTLE THAT THE READER REALIZE that Kathigasu has already been in the Year 5 Text Book since 2013-2014!!! And this year, particularly TODAY, I read again in The Star – a reader (again) lamented how Kathigasu was underappreciated and I scented the hints of that “The Ministry is stoic not to change the syllabus despite knowing the truth” in his letter. He was saying that although Ministry realizes that Kathigasu is a Malayan hero, but there “is no attempt to incorporate her in history syllabuses”. Actually, I do applaud his opinion BUT what I disagree is the tone of shunning the Ministry, as if Kathigasu has NEVER BEEN MENTIONED in any text books!! Therefore, I decided to pen a reply email to The Star Editor (but I don’t put high hope as last year, my reply never seen the broad daylight!) :-
“Dear To Whom It May Concern / The Editor,This is my second time writing on the same issue. The first one was sent to you last year but sadly, my opinion was not published due to unknown reasons. I am writing (again) in responding to allegation that Miss Sybil Kathigasu’s heroic deeds are “overlooked” by The Authority / Ministry (Friday, 22nd September) which is unfortunately still lingering this year. I know that this coming from a good place but I can’t help but to set the record straight that The Ministry has NOT overlooked on Miss Kathigasu’s contributions as she is placed among other Malaysian unsung heroes in Year 5 textbook, in the last chapter called “Real-Life Heroes”!I am writing this on a capacity as a teacher. In fact, I even showed to my pupils the dramatization clips of Miss Kathigasu’s heroic deeds; snippets from Malay Language drama called “Apa Dosaku”, starring Kathigasu’s grandniece, actress Elaine Daly as Kathigasu herself. My pupils gasped seeing the depiction of Kathigasu’being tortured by the Kempetai and later related to me how they were moved by the clips. Therefore, it is absurd to say that The Ministry has done nothing to “recognize” Kathigasu as a Malayan Hero! The text book was launched approximately 3-4 years ago, so by now the younger generation should have been more alert with Kathigasu’s story.I understand the idea to elevate Kathigasu as one of the historical syllabuses in text book but to write as if The Ministry has been feigning deaf ears in regards of acknowledging Kathigasu as a Malayan Hero; – I would say it is preposterous. I humbly suggest that we do homework first before lamenting about something; for instance, do check all the existing text books BEFORE pinpointing the blame to The Ministry. It is very disappointing to read “high and mighty” ideas that lack appropriate background checking.I hope that by illustrating the fact that Kathigasu has indeed being acknowledged in Year 5 English text books, along with Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood and Datin Paduka Mother A. Mangalam, the blaming game is put to rest. Miss Kathigasu is indeed a Malayan Hero and she is never forgotten as forever she will be etched in our hearts.”
I am always one of Red Communications’ fans! Simply love their movies and films! Well, I even blogged on “Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia” though I am not a Malay soap opera fan!