Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The Maria Hertogh Saga....Final Part 8, Pulitzer Prize Winner James A Michener wrote about Mansor Adabi
Tribute : JAMES A MICHENER ( Source: Wikipedia )
On the evening of September 14, 1998, the Raffles Hotel in Singapore named one of their suites after the illustrious author, in memory of his patronage and passion for the hotel. Michener first stayed at the Singapore hotel just after World War II in 1949, and in an interview a decade before his death he said it was a luxury for him, a young man, to stay at the Raffles Hotel back then, and had the time of his life. It was officially christened by Steven Green, then Ambassador of United States to Singapore, who noted the writer's penchant of describing 'faraway places with strange-sounding names' to his American book readers. His last stay was in 1985 when he came to Singapore for the launch of the book Salute to Singapore, for which he wrote the foreword. He was so fond of his last stay in Raffles that he took the hotel room key home with him as a souvenir. The suite contains a selection of Michener's works, like Caribbean, The Drifters and Hawaii, as well as two photographic portraits of the author taken at the hotel and in Chinatown in 1985. After his death, the Michener estate corresponded with the hotel management to return the room key, and from there the idea to name the hotel room after him, came into fruition. The souvenir key was duly returned to the hotel, and now on display in the Raffles Hotel Museum
James A. Michener Art Museum
James Michener was one of the literary great of American literature. At the age of 40, and with his first book, "Tales of the South Pacific", he was awarded the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He was a roving reporter covering many parts of Asia, the Pacific and the world. He was also a prolific writer having written more than 40 books.
He died at the age of 90 and was greatly honoured for all his achievements, accomplishments and great charity. He has been featured on USA stamps too.
The reason why I chose to highlight him here in this final Mansor Adabi and Maria Hertogh saga story is because few people anywhere would know about this fact today...... James Michener actually came to Singapore in 1950 to look for Mansor Adabi whom he wish to interview for his published column " Tales of South Asia " in the Milwaukee Journal ( a daily newspaper ).
When Michener asked around, in December 1950, just after the riots had passed and things have quietened down, he was advised, probably by those in the know...not to pursue or locate Mansor Adabi. His detractors felt the subject was perhaps too sensitive to touch on in the open.
Obviously, the great man felt otherwise.
He did locate Mansor Adabi and conducted a face to face interview with him about the whole saga.
In his most intriguing report Michener said, " Mansor Adabi was one of the most provocative and yet winning persons I was to meet in Asia" ( 1950 interview ).
Visitors of my blog can click on the link below to read the FULL story at the Milwaukee Journal of May 2 1951. This is a live, free digital online journal and you can enlarge the text, scroll up and down, turn pages, zoom in or out etc.
The Heading of the story : "Tells of Thwarted Love that led to Fatal Riots ".
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
This was the last recorded message from Maria Hertogh ( also known as Nadrah ) in May 2009.
She was actually involved in a movie production about her life story last year.
Sadly Maria lost her battle with luekemia just 2 months later on 8 July 2009.
Before her demise, she had left instructions that there was to be no funeral as she had decided to donate her body for medical research.
RIP....Maria alias Nadrah.
Photo: Maria with her adopted sister in Kemaman, Trengganu 1999
After Maria was taken back to Holland in 1950, she eventually was reintegrated into the Roman Catholic faith. With marriage came children and the raising of a big family. However, she had never forgotten her adopted Malayan homeland especially her kampong friends whom she grew up with in Kemaman, Trengganu. She had longed especially to see Che Aminah her foster mother again. But times were hard and financial considerations did not allow this to happen.
It was sad that Che Aminah passed away in 1976 without seeing Maria again.
Then in 1999, Maria's dream of returning to her kampong days were fulfilled. She was in the news again when she made that eventful trip to meet up with her kampong friends ( those that were left...and there were many who still remembered her and vice-versa, with great fondness and nostalgia ). Maria also met up with Che Aminah's family, including an adopted sister who was actually Japanese ( as seen in the photo above). They were together in the kampong after the war until 1950.
Maria's gripping life story has been the subject of many books, plays and even movies.
When I did some basic research on the internet I was especially glad that quite a number of our schools had their students doing presentations and projects based on not only Maria's story but the lessons that can be learnt from the whole saga. They had compiled their own video clips or photos found in the net and other places to showcase their viewpoints.
Then on July 10, last year, I got quite a shock when I saw this piece of breaking news on Straits Times online.
The main character in this historical saga has finally departed the scene where, for more than a time, she was on the world's foremost stage and attention.
Breaking News > Singapore > Story
July 10, 2009
Maria Hertogh dies
Born in 1937 in Java, Ms Hertogh (above) was adopted by a Malay woman during World War II when she was five years old. -- ST FILE PHOTO
KUALA LUMPUR -
THE young Dutch girl at the centre of a highly publicised custody battle that sparked the 1950 Maria Hertogh riots has died, Bernama reported on Thursday.
Ms Hertogh died of leukaemia in Huijbergen, the Netherlands, on Wednesday. She was 72.
In 1950, when the High Court in Singapore awarded custody of the 13-year-old girl back to her biological Catholic Dutch parents, the ruling ignited three days of riots. Eighteen people were killed and 173 injured.
Ms Hertogh's name has come up in issues involving race and religion in Singapore ever since.
Last month, Deputy Public Prosecutor Anandan Bala raised the spectre of the Maria Hertogh riots when he pushed for jail terms for a Christian couple sentenced to eight weeks in prison for distributing and possessing seditious publications.
Born in 1937 in Java, Ms Hertogh was adopted by a Malay woman during World War II when she was five years old. Her parents had been interned as prisoners of war after the Japanese invaded Java.
The little girl was brought up as a Muslim and took on a Malay name, Nadra Ma'arof. Troubles began when the Hertoghs tried to claim their daughter back after the Japanese surrendered.
What followed was a legal tussle between the Hertoghs and Cik Aminah, Ms Hertogh's foster mother, which played out for more than half a year under intense media scrutiny.
In mid-December 1950, Maria and her mother left Singapore for the Netherlands.
Learning from the lessons of one of the worst race riots in Singapore, the Singapore Government chose to emphasise multi-culturalism and the importance of race relations.
Read the full story in Friday's edition of The Straits Times.
Many bloggers are currently reporting that photos and images from their blogs
That includes MY blog too....!
I have reported the issue to Blogger Help Forum and will patiently await their
solution to the problem.
So if visitors do not see any photos here and there....don't worry.
We are aware of the glitch and hope it will be only temporary.
Friday, March 26, 2010
And millions upon millions of Americans kids who grew up from the mid 50's and 60's clearly loved Fess Parker in his portrayal as Davy Crockett and later as Daniel Boone with his raccoon top.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Photo: Maria Hertogh arriving at Schipol Airport, Netherlands
In the aftermath of those dark and terrible days, the police detained 778 people for investigation
into their involvement in the riots and the killings. One of those detained was Karim Ghani the Muslim activist from Rangoon. Of these number 200 were later charged. Only 100 were convicted while 5 rioters were sentenced to death for "wanton killing".
However the 5 condemned persons were not hanged and had their death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. For this escape of the hangman's noose they had the Tunku to thank.
On 25 August 1951, Tunku Abdul Rahman ( who would be the 1st Prime Minister of the new Federation of Malaya later) became President of UMNO...a Malay/Muslim political party in Malaya. He set out to try to save the 5 condemned men by first gathering enough support from the Muslim population and then pressured the British authorities to commute the sentences. The British were on the tail end of their far-east rule and realised that their time was coming to a close. They did not relish leaving behind grim memories. So Tunku won the day.
The Commission of Inquiry ( source: Wikipedia )
A Commission of Inquiry was appointed by Governor Franklin Gimson. It was headed by Sir Lionel Leach, a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Commission placed large blame on the police command for not having anticipated the violence from many indicators between 2 and 11 December. Furthermore, when the riots first started, the police failed to act promptly to disperse the crowd. The Gurkha contingent standing by was not put into action, while too much dependence was placed on Malay policemen, many of whom defected or at least hesitated to carry out their duties. The British House of Commons criticised the colonial government for its poor handling of the situation.
Present day Government of Singapore also attributed the tragedy to the insensitivity of the colonial government towards the racial and religious feelings of the locals. It cites the incident as a vital lesson learnt in the importance of racial and religious understanding and harmony. It also cites the incident as a case for placing a certain degree of governmental control on the media, especially when racial or religious issues are implicated.
Epilogue ( Source: Wikipedia )
On the night the riots broke out, Maria Hertogh was moved out of the convent, where the rioters tried twice to march on and were only kept back by the police. Plans were made at York Hill to receive her but she was instead sent to Saint John's Island, an offshore island 4 miles south of the main island of Singapore. The next day, Maria and Adeline Hertogh departed for the Netherlands by aeroplane. After landing in Schiphol Airport, they quickly proceeded to the Hertogh home on the outskirts of Bergen op Zoom.
At first, Maria could only talk to her mother, the only one in the family who understood Malay. She demanded rice with every meal, resenting the western diet. She continued to say her Muslim prayers five times a day. In addition, a policeman in plain clothes was assigned to escort her whenever she left the house, for fear of possible kidnappers who might take her back to Singapore, following reported sighting of "oriental strangers" around town. The house was also placed under surveillance.
Slowly, Maria began to adjust to her new environment. A nun came to the house daily to teach her Dutch until she was proficient enough to attend a local convent school. She also began to attend Mass with her family. Back in Singapore, Aminah and Mansoor had apparently given up hope of retrieving Maria after leave to appeal to the Privy Council was not granted. Earlier interest of the several Muslim groups involved had also gradually died down.
On 20 April 1956, Maria was married to Johan Gerardus Wolkefeld, a 21-year-old Dutch Catholic. On 15 February 1957, she gave birth to a son, the first child of ten. However, Maria did not seem to be contented. As she told De Telegraaf, she often had rows with her mother, who lived near by. She also said she still longed for her Malayan homeland. Johan and Mansoor began corresponding. In letters both expressed wish for Maria to travel to Malaya to visit the aged Aminah, but such trip was never made due primarily to financial difficulties. Aminah died in 1976.
The life story of Maria took another dramatic turn on 16 August of the same year, when Maria found herself on trial in a Dutch court charged with plotting to murder her husband. She admitted in court that she had been thinking about leaving her husband but was afraid to start
divorce proceedings in case she lost custody of her children. She came into contact with two regular customers at her husband's cafe bar. The trio bought a revolver and recruited a fourth accomplice to carry out the actual murder. However, the latest member got cold feet and gossiped about the murder plan. The police quickly learnt of it and arrested all four conspirators.
In her defence, Maria's lawyers brought up her background, which the court acknowledged. With this in mind, and because the plot was never executed and there was no proof that she offered any inducement to the other three, the three-man bench acquitted Maria. Meanwhile, Maria had also filed for divorce on the grounds of the irreparable breakdown of her marriage.
On 8th of July 2009, Maria Hertogh died at her house in Huijbergen at the age of 72. The cause of her death was the Leukemia from which she had been suffering.
Maria was raised as a Muslim in Kemaman, Trengganu.
Photo: Her schooling days ( girl circled)
Above : A news report from long ago
As mentioned in my earlier blogpost, Mansor Adabi passed away on 15 October 1988 from a heart attack. He was aged 60. At the time of the story in 1950, he was then a trainee teacher attached to Bukit Panjang Government School having been posted to the school in 1948.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Above: The news and pictures published in foreign papers
Monday, March 22, 2010
The Court Hearing - 20 November 1950
Again, a large crowd had formed outside the courthouse. The session was presided by Justice Brown ( I think he was the Chief Justice T.A. Brown ). Justice Brown had to consider 2 major points of contention:-
1. Was there a proper and legal adoption in the case of Maria ?
2. Was the purported marriage acceptable under the law?
Maria's natural mother Adeline Hertogh flew over from the Netherlands to attend the hearing. All the parties were present including Mansor Adabi, Che Aminah and Maria herself...and their counsels.
Under Dutch laws, the minimum age for a girl for marriage was 16 years.
However, our colonial English law in Singapore then recognised the marriage laws of the subjects' country of domicile. So, Maria being still a 13 year old minor of Dutch citizenship was under Dutch laws.
In the case of Mansor Adabi, an exception to the above could not be made out because Mansor was born in Kelantan and whether he was domiciled in Singapore could not be established. As for Maria the Court could not consider her a Muslim by law, since she was still a minor and therefore her father who had the legal right over her, had the same right to control her religion.
Her father, who was a Roman Catholic, had stated that he would never have allowed her to convert to Islam.
The Court Verdict
1. The short-lived marriage was overruled.
2. The Court awarded custody of Maria to the Hertoghs. Maria was ordered to be returned to
her natural parents with immediate effect.
Below....from the pages of Wikipedia...a detailed account describing the scene from the Court verdict of 20 November 1950 to early December 1950, before the Final Hearing and the riots.
Stay at the convent ( source: Wikipedia )
When policewomen came to take Maria away, she wept and clung to Aminah and Mansoor. Aminah fainted on the spot and a doctor standing by had to attend to her. Mansoor advised Maria to concede for the time being and promised that he and others would carry on the legal fight. Thus Maria allowed herself to be brought away into a car. Outside, the
First and foremost, the press was not barred from entering the convent grounds. Nor were they
These pictures, whether presenting Maria as happy or sad, mostly showed Maria surrounded by symbols of Christian faith. The Muslims, who looked upon Maria as one of their own, were deeply offended by such pictures, not to mention the sensational reports, some of which explicitly labelled the case as a religious issue between Islam and Christianity.
On 9 December, an organization calling itself the Nadra Action Committee was formally constituted under the leadership of Karim Ghani, a Muslim political activist from Rangoon.
In the light of these potent signs of a great disturbance, the Criminal Investigation Department
There were even more widespread reports in regional and newspapers around the world after the VERDICT was delivered.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
However what I am doing in these posts is providing a recapitulation of the main threads of this enduring story about Mansor Adabi and Maria ( Nadrah) and Che Aminah. Much later, what happened in the aftermath of the wedding, the hearings in November and December 1950, the riots and the ensuing years.
Dramatic turn of events
Mansor and Maria (Nadrah) were married on August 1 1950 as seen in this photo which included Aminah.
After the wedding, Maria returned to stay with Aminah and slightly later, was under the guardianship of the President of Muslim Association ...M.A. Majeed. The marriage was never consummated.
There were some perceptions that the wedding was a manoevre by Che Aminah to prevent the return of Maria to her natural parents...who had served legal notice to return their daughter by August 10.
When the deadline passed with no sign of Aminah or Mansor yielding an inch, the Hertoghs went to court again on 26 August and took out an original summons under the
"Guardianship of Infants Ordinance".
You will recall that Maria was then only 13 years of age...when she married Mansor Adabi. Under European laws this was not legally acceptable. But they were not married under European or even British laws ( Singapore was a British crown colony then)...but under Muslim customs which permitted marriage if the muslim girl had reached puberty by then( as was the case with Maria).
Meanwhile the Hertoghs argued that they were the legal and biological parents of Maria, their daughter, and they would never have given their permission either for her to be converted to the Muslim religion or to be married off at 13.
The first challenge to the 'appropriateness' of the marriage actually came from within the Muslim community itself. On August 10, a Muslim leader wrote to the Straits Times voicing some concerns about the marrying age of such a young girl.
However, he concluded that Muslims would have no objections to such a marriage per se.
The photos showed the scene on May 17 1950 after the High Court ruled that Maria must be returned to her natural parents pending an appeal and a stay of execution for 2 months.
Before the High Court ruling, Maria had made it very clear that she wanted to stay with Aminah and did not wish to be returned to her natural parents.
As Maria and Aminah exited the courthouse via the backdoor, a car from the consulate was waiting to take Maria away. Maria refused to enter the car and clung to Aminah...both shouting in Malay that they would rather kill themselves than be separated. A large crowd had formed outside the court.
It was only after much persuasion that the duo parted in tears and Maria was transported to the Girls Homecraft Centre at York Hill.
Next,the court hearing of 20 November 1950 to deliver its verdict about Maria's custody.
So from August, for nearly 4 months, the whole saga hung in deep suspense.
Tensions were starting to boil and they would explode and culminate in one of the darkest chapters of our history.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
What actually happened?
Without warning, the Achilles tendon of Beckham's famous left foot suddenly ruptured. He said, " I could hear the actual popping sound ", when it popped. Once the that tendon is torn, you will have no longer much control of your foot. The feeling is one of total haplessness.
I feel most sorry for poor Beckham not only that he will obviously miss playing in probably his last World Cup but that his was one of the most serious of Achilles tendon injuries. Latest reports
by his team doctors confirmed that his tendon was so badly ruptured that it was beyond repair. Instead, he will require "replacement tendon" surgery.
Those of you who have been long-time followers of my blog will know that I too had a similar experience of torn Achilles tendon in November 2005 which incapacitated me for 8 long months....of surgery, pain, rehabilitation, physio-therapy exercises and loneliness. It was a slow and long patient recovery process.
For me, that accident turned out to be " a blessing in disguise". It was during those long 8 months that I started to teach myself the computer and learnt about the internet, IT, Googling and other technical stuff by spending most of my time on the computer ...which led to my involvement with Blogging and made me a different person from what I used to be!
You can read that interesting episode right HERE and HERE.
It has been quite awhile since my last posting. Thanks to my dear friend Lam Chun See for taking the trouble to ask " why the silence? ". No, I have not given up on blogging lah! Just that I have been comtemplating and reevaluating a little more recently without IT factor thrown in....just yet. Don't want to bore you with all the details but for now my answer to LCS's kind concern in comments box should suffice. ( Check previous post comments) .
I have uploaded this very amusing video which is a "must see and listen" one. The video is performed by a group known as the Capitol Steps. It warns, in an exagerrated way, about the many dangers of buying cheap products made in China ( many are true as reported in the media).
I enjoyed it tremendously and hope you have a great day too! The video has garnered close to
two million hits.