elders of the Yiu Ming Society speak about their experiences as Chinese in Australia
Company director; President, Yiu Ming Society; Chairman, Tiy Loy & Co
I was born in Hong Kong in 1938 and then taken back to China when I was three months old. My mother had given birth to ten children, but only three had survived and it was safer to deliver a child in Hong Kong. I was the only son. My grandfather was a judge in mainland China and had seven daughters and five sons. He owned about 18 acres and 15 houses and had two male servants and two female servants. The family fortunes declined when the daughters were married off, as each of them needed dowry. My father had been sent to work in Australia in 1908 although he went back to China once or twice a year.
My village is known as Datangbian/Taitongbian, in Gaoyao/Gouyiu county. Our village had a temple known as Song Jian/Song Gan, similar to the Yiu Ming temple. There were many village celebrations; we would parade the temple figures during the Mid-autumn festival on 15 August. The lion dance was common in the countryside also. Weddings were celebrated at Song Gan, and funerals were held there as well. The bodies were left there one or two days, covered by a piece of cloth, for blessing and protection by Guanyin/Gunyom [Bodhisattva or Goddess of Mercy] and then they were dressed for the nether world before they were put into coffins. Prayers were also held at Song Gan before going abroad. In 1950 when the Communists came, they demolished the temple, and also burned the figures and all scriptures. This happened at every village, not only my village. It became unsafe to leave me at home as I was the only son from a big landlord family so l was brought out by my father to Australia. My mother had a very bad time. She stayed in China and was beaten with stones and spat on. I eventually brought her and my sister out in 1957.