Monday, September 8, 2014

A war veteran, a retiring workhorse, and yesteryear's pirate taxis.

I try to highlight Singapore's wartime heroes and veterans, and I still do not understand why the "garmen" makes little effort to honour the lesser known of these true Pioneer Generation members when they were still alive.

Today, I learnt about Mr Har She Sun, a member of Force 136 in Malaya:

ST. Sept 8

Here is the National Library's (Singapore Infopedia) write-up on Force 136:

The ST story above merely says Mr Har was parachuted into the jungles of Malaya where he "was a wireless operator, receiving and tapping out messages in Morse Code". While one cannot vouch for Wikipedia's scholarly authenticity, it at least gives us an idea of the dangers faced by Force 136's radio operators in various theatres of war:

Field Operations

Force 136 was also active in more conventional military-style operations behind Japanese lines in Burma. Such an operation could comprise a group of up to 40 infantry with officers and a radio operator, infiltrating Japanese lines on intelligence and discretionary search and destroy missions. Such missions, which could last several weeks (supplied by C47 transport aircraft) kept close wireless contact with operational bases in India, using high-grade ciphers (changed daily) and hermetically sealed wireless/morse sets.

Every day (Japanese permitting) at pre–arranged times, the radio operator (with escorts) climbed to a high vantage point, usually necessitating a gruelling climb to the top of some slippery, high, jungle-clad ridge, and sent the latest intelligence information and the group's supply requests etc., and received further orders in return. The radio operator was central to a mission’s success and his capture or death would spell disaster for the mission. To avoid capture and use under duress by the Japanese, every SOE operative was issued a cyanide pill.

I had previously blogged about wartime RAF fighter pilot Tan Kay Hai. To date, I have not heard much about official efforts to honour him:

Was it because in those days, these gutsy pioneers were British subjects (fighting for Britain) and not Singapore citizens? I am sure both Mr Har and Mr Tan became Singapore citizens after the war. In any case, the hero who is officially honoured -- Maj-Gen Lim Bo Seng -- never had the chance to become a Singapore citizen. He died at the hands of the Japanese.  

Big, strong and friendly -- to taxi commuters' pockets!
(the only cab with a flag down fare of just $3)

ST, Sept 8
A nice pic that went with the story...  

But the caption writer just had to use the word "iconic"! And, here in Singapore, we are told, permission has to be sought from the "garmen" just to keep one of these phased-out taxi types as an exhibit of "sentimental value"!...


Finally, how many people today recall the pak hong chia (pirate taxis) of yesteryear? One blogger named Yeo Hong Eng remembered!...

Pirate Taxis of Singapore in the 50s and 70s

Which ones in this 1960s pic were pirate taxis?...


  1. Most Cambridge and Oxford cars were used as pirate taxis.

    1. Tks! Indeed, I remember sitting, as a boy in the 1960s, in those beat-up Morris Oxfords and Austin Cambridges.