Footprints Tracing

Footprints_A Singapore Chinese coming along

The photo tells the story. The reunion dinner, on the eve of the Lunar New Year becomes more special each year for the Piong family. Mr Piong Chau Kon is 97, his wife 10 years younger. They have had a good life. And their story is in many ways like that of many other Singapore families. 

Piong Chau Kon grew up in a remote village in Guangzhou. He had 2 1/2 years of education and worked on a farm. He later moved to Swatow to be an apprentice to a tailor, before venturing out to Malaya. He and his wife met in Malacca, started a family, then moved down to Singapore. They lived in Choa Chu Kang, and survived the hardships of the Japanese Occupation. When the Japanese left, he worked as a tailor serving the British soldiers at the RAF Tengah airbase. Later he took over his employer’s shop. Then the British withdrew, and the Piongs moved to Taman Jurong. It was a newly developing estate, together with Jurong Industrial Estate, and he set up Willy’s Tailor in Sept 1967. The family has lived in Jurong since, and seen life improve, decade after decade. 

The Piongs are now a big, joyful family – 9 children, 21 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and now 1 great-great grandchild. Everyone hopes there will be more great and great-great grandchildren. 

Something else that’s wonderful. Piong Chau Kon published a book last year at age 96, called ‘My Memoirs’. He gave me a copy. It started when he began writing random bits and pieces of his memories, and became a detailed recollection of a lifelong of experiences. So that the younger ones in the family would know. 

Each generation must know what happened before. Each generation will carry its own memories and hopes. Each generation of Singaporeans will create the future Singapore. 

Warmest wishes to everyone celebrating the Lunar New Year, and to all other Singaporeans who enjoy the festive spirit and the time with our families!

Source: https://www.facebook.com/TharmanShanmugaratnam

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