Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: Katz Tales: Living under the velvet paw by Ellen Whyte

Title      : Katz Tales: Living under the velvet paw
Author  : Ellen Whyte
Year     : 2009
ISBN   : 978-967-3035-64-9

Katz Tales: Living under the velvet paw is a compilation of stories Ellen has written about her cat companions, Scoop, Bones, Au and Target. These stories had been published in a column in The Star newspaper's Weekender pullout from 2006 to 2009. Ellen wrote about her kitties in a light and heart-warming manner, even I, who is not a cat-lover found her stories amusing and interesting, which I could hardly the book put down.

This book has given me a fresh perspective and surprising revelations about cats I have never realised and/or known before. Ellen has done an excellent job in publishing this book to enlighten readers, especially animal lovers (cat-lovers and non-cat-lovers alike) like myself about cats in an interesting manner. There were also full-coloured pictures of Scoop, Au and Target, unfortunately no photo of Bones, whom took refuge at Ellen's home for a short time.

Readers who have been following Ellen's column in The Star's Weekender pullout would find Katz Tales a delightful book to be added to their collection. More reasons to do so if you are an animal lover, especially if you are a cat-lover. I would give double thumbs-up to Ellen for a job well done.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Review: No Dram of Mercy by Sybil Kathigasu

Title    :  No Dram of Mercy                                   
Author:  Sybil Kathigasu
Year   :  1954 (reprinted 2006)
ISBN  :  983-2197-22-8

Sybil Kathigasu, is an epitome of a freedom fighter, who happened to live in the then Malaya during the Japanese Occupation. She was married to Dr. Abdon Clement Kathigasu and they had two daughters, Olga and Dawn, and an adopted son William. They lived in Ipoh, Perak but spent much of their time during the Japanese Occupation in Papan, outside Ipoh.

Sybil Kathigasu and her husband known as the Doctor spent much of their time treating many wounded and sick anti-Japansese guerillas as well as local people who are ill and in need of constant medical attention during the Japanese Occupation. They were constantly under extreme stress and dangerous situation while carrying out their duties to heal the sick and wounded anti-Japanese guerillas. The call of this selfless concern and act for these wounded guerillas came at the start of the Japanese Occupation from God.

Even with the help of many kind people of Ipoh and Papan, Sybil Kathigasu and her husband were eventually betrayed to the Japanese authorities. They were both interrogated and tortured for hours on end by the extremely ruthless and cruel occupied forces. All because she answered the call from God to treat the anti-Japanese guerillas as well as in the possession of a wireless set to listen to the broadcasts by BBC for the progress of the Allied forces in the World War II battles. Although Sybil and the Doctor had to endure extreme cruelty from their Japanese captors, never once they buckled under the extreme stress and torture inflicted upon them even though the physical and mental pain were beyond description.

However, the physical injuries suffered by Sybil were horrendous and she never completely recovered from them. She even suffered a fractured lumbar vertebrae form repeated beatings during interrogations, which resulted in partial pralysis. She underwent numerous surgeries in the effort to restore her health but with limited success. She managed to walk again unaided and attended a ceremony where King George VI awarded her with the George Medal in the honour of her bravery during the Japanese Occupation. Unfortunately, Sybil died on June 12, 1948 from septicaemia from a fractured jaw sustained from the boot of her torturer, Ekio Yoshimura.

Sybil's heroic efforts were not well-known by the younger generation of Malaysians today, even to myself. I only knew of her story in its barest form, having first encountered it in an English Language reading comprehension exercise when I was in secondary school. Thus, recently when I finally managed to procure a copy of her book, the above-mentioned title, only then I realised that she is one of the lesser known heroines of the Malaysian history, espcially on the Japanese Occupation.

This book should serve as a profound reminder to all, especially those who have read it and/or know her story well the price she had paid in the name of freedom for our country, Malaysia. Although we may have our political forefathers to spearhead in the freedom and independence of Malaysia, the story of Sybil Kathigasu should never ever be forgotten; her contributions to Malaysia's freedom is very much an invaluable part of the Malaysian history.