[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

[Tribute to Foong Choon Hon]
Foong Choon Hon played a critical role in establishing Wan Qing Yuan as the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. He worked tirelessly on it and with the greatest enthusiasm. To collect materials and historical information, he travelled up and down the length of Peninsular Malaysia and visited centres in Mainland China and Taiwan. Appreciating the importance of the 1911 Revolution not only to ethnic Chinese worldwide but also to all Asians, through the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, he helped build bridges of friendship to many countries in East and Southeast Asia including Japan. Not a few Malaysians, Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, Hongkongers and others were encouraged by his efforts. They consulted him and invited him to give lectures.

Choon Hon was greatly pained by the separation of Chinese across the Taiwan Straits and expressed this pathos in poignant terms in the split boulder at Wan Qing Yuan with the two halves bearing the calligraphic writings of Koo Chen-foo and Wang Daohan. Leaders from both sides of the Straits are regular visitors to Wan Qing Yuan.

Choon Hon also understood the legacy of Dr Sun and the 1911 Revolution in Singapore's own evolution towards nationhood and had Lee Kuan Yew's tribute to Dr Sun inscribed in stone at the entrance. The 1911 Revolution and the May 4th Movement which 90th anniversary will soon be celebrated had a profound influence on the Chinese in Singapore as they struggled for dignity and development.

In this labour of love, Choon Hon received the full support of Kwek Leng Joo and members of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI). I had the privilege of working with him on the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall project for many years and learnt much from him. Though no longer young, he was still full of energy. He would come into my office panting, with a leather bag full of documents and newspaper cuttings, arguing his case with passion. I can still picture him with his distinctive white hair somewhat dishevelled, his voice rich and booming. When he argued that we should commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Tongmenghui in Singapore, I agreed with him immediately and persuaded Chua Thian Poh of SCCCI to include this important date in its 2006 calendar. Kwek Leng Joo then personally went to Taipei to extend an invitation to Kuomintang Honorary Chairman Lien Chan. We are sad that Choon Hon has left us on the eve of the centenary celebration of the 1911 Revolution but his memory will live on in the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall and in the hearts of Singaporeans and many others. By reminding Singaporeans that our forefathers had contributed to a cause much larger than themselves, he has strengthened our spirit and inspired us to see our future and the world in larger terms.



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