Leon Chee Kuang

 

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Title: Table Tennis

Title (Original Language): 乒乓

Year: 2017

Words in the Drawing:I loved to play table tennis when I was young. My friends and I always went to Council Hall to play table tennis there. I was admitted to the settlement at the age of 18. So before I was admitted, I studied at the secondary school outside. During my secondary school era, I loved to play football very much. That time I was studying at SMK Chan Wa in Seremban. During free time, the students liked to play football at the field in school. When I was admitted, both my arms and feet were badly affected but I still loved sports. There was a rule at the settlement, i.e. those patients, over 18 years old, were not allowed to stay at the children ward.  The authorities made an arrangement for me to stay at the chalet near East Section, unit no. 95. There were eight patients staying together. After staying for a while, I moved to Day Sekolah at Central Section.  Day Sekolah was actually the combination of five units of chalets (Unit no. 298, 299, 400, 401 and 402) and it was catered for those school leavers who were over 18 years old to stay in. There were 6 persons in one chalet. We had to cook our own meals and take care of ourselves. When we were free, we made our own badminton court at the compound of our chalet. We made use of two logs and tied a net in the middle, then we buried part the logs in the soil. The other part of the logs was exposed outside in order to set the border of the badminton court. I had a few friends who loved to play badminton, such as Hock Koon,Tan Bok Choon, Lee Yam, Heng Yap Seng and Bobby Lim. We usually have our annual Old Boys Gathering on the third week of April. I manage to see many old friends there. We have around 50 friends who attend the gathering this year. Among those playmates I mentioned earlier, only Bobby Lim attends the gathering and I had lost contacts with the rest of them. 

Size: 17.5cm X 15.2cm

Location: The Valley of Hope Story Gallery

Owner: Leon Chee Kuang

Copyright: Leon Chee Kuang

 
 

Title: Cottage

Title (Original Language):茅屋

Year: 2017

Words in the Drawing:The ancient cottages were built with thatch. The house that I painted didn’t look like a cottage but it made me think about the life of my ancestors. My grandfather came from Si Hui, a county-level city in Guangdong, China. My father was also born in China. When he was young, he was traded as coolie labour and transported to South Asia together with some of his friends. He then settled down in Terengganu. When we were in Terengganu, we didn’t have our own house. My father rented an “attap” house and our whole family stayed in there. I am the eldest son in the family. I have one younger brother and one younger sister. My father suffered leprosy and was admitted to Valley of Hope at the age of 40. My mother had become the breadwinner of the family since then.  As far as I could recall, we were very poor when I was young. My mother worked as a maid, helping people to wash clothes and do housework. Life was tough. I still remember that when I was studying at Chinese primary school in Terengganu, my mother didn’t give me a single cent for pocket money. Luckily our school provided free breakfast for those students from poor families. When I went to school, I was given a bun and a cup of coffee. When someone is poor, life is even bitter than the bitter gourd!

Size: 17.5cm X 15.2cm

Location: The Valley of Hope Story Gallery

Owner: Leon Chee Kuang

Copyright: Leon Chee Kuang

 
 

Title: Painting Teacher

Title (Original Language):画画老师

Year: 2017

Words in the Drawing:I didn’t have any idea about what to draw during the painting activity that day. So I drew our painting teacher, Mr Tan Poh Chuan. I never expect that I still have the chance to draw since I am already so old. In fact most of us here are unable to hold a pen but surprisingly we still can draw pictures. I was really shocked to see Gim Thuan, who hasn’t got any finger, was able to draw so well. I am motivated to draw continuously after seeing her strong determination. I usually draw at night. My wife feels funny and she asked me why I draw. She feels funny to see an old man learning how to draw. 

Size: 17.5cm X 15.2cm

Location: The Valley of Hope Story Gallery

Owner: Leon Chee Kuang

Copyright: Leon Chee Kuang

 
 

Title: I Met A Ghost

Title (Original Language):见鬼

Year: 2017

Words in the Drawing:I have read a newspaper article related to Dato Harun Din, a timber seller. He shared one of his real stories. It was about an incident where his staff went into the woods to chop trees for almost half day and yet they failed to cut down even one tree. It was believed that there were many ghosts in the forest and the strange incident happened. My father was a supervisor in one of the timber kongsi (companies were called kongsi in Hokkien) in Terengganu. He always went into the woods to choose the tree species as well as to chop the trees. One day, he had gone into the woods for three days and hadn’t gone home. Everyone suspected that he had been bewitched. In order to rescue him, his working partners slaughtered a white goat and made offering to Na Tok Kong. They finally managed to find him after some prayers were done. My father said he was covered and pressured under the leaves. He could see people busy looking for him and he could also hear people calling his name loudly but when he wanted to respond, he failed to say a single word. So I believe that the ghosts really exist. Here is another real story. Last time, there was a resident at our settlement, called Gan Kee San. He purposely set up a darkroom at Scout Den at East Section to make prints for people. He was discharged from the settlement as he had fully recovered. He sold all his photographic equipment and facilities at the darkroom to me. One evening, I processed the prints and worked till midnight, around 1am. I rode my bicycle to go home. When I passed under the trees near the Scout Den, suddenly I saw an old man flying down slowly from a higher place. He was around 50 meters from me. I stopped my bicycle immediately and wanted to see clearly what he would do next. However, the old man disappeared instantly! I was so scared because I didn’t know whether I had met an angel or a ghost! Do you know that the Scout Den was used as temporary classroom last time? After the school was closed down, this place became vacant. The carpenter of the settlement had produced 7-8 coffins and placed there. The coffins were prepared for those patients who passed away in the settlement.  There was an Animal House next to the Scout Den. A Malay lab assistant called Zakaria, who come every evening to inspect the white rats there. One evening, he was riding his motorcycle with his young son on his routine inspection of the mice. When he passed the Scout Den, his son suddenly told him that he saw an old man sitting on top of one of the coffin! But when Zakaria turned around, he didn’t see anyone. Zakaria then told everyone that there was a ghost at the Scout Den. Then, on another incident, there was strange happening at our Council Office too. One morning, when I came to work, I noticed that the drawer has been opened by people and things dropped everywhere. Then, I saw a flat dead kitten body under my computer table. It seemed like being hit by heavy object and its blood was dry. Based on logical thinking, it was impossible that the kitten was stepped dead and killed by human being because it was as flat as a pancake. So nowadays I keep three bibles on my work station because I suspect there is ghost in the office. Believe it or not, it is up to you!

Size: 17.5cm X 15.2cm

Location: The Valley of Hope Story Gallery

Owner: Leon Chee Kuang

Copyright: Leon Chee Kuang

 
 
 

Title: Father

Title (Original Language): 父亲

Year: 2017

Words in the Drawing:My father suffered from leprosy at his 40s. After he was admitted to the settlement, he married to another woman and they stayed at the marriage quarter at Central Section, Unit no. 295. When I was 18 years old, I suffered from the same disease and I was sent to Valley of Hope to get medical treatment. I was arranged to stay at Day Sekolah after being admitted. I was elected as Captain to manage the discipline of the residents at Day Sekolah. The authorities paid me RM5 monthly as allowance. On the other hand, my father was the Hospital Attendant at the ward. He also gave me RM5 monthly as pocket money. That time, the value of money was high. A bowl of noodle only cost us three cents and a cup of coffee only cost one cent. I usually ate bread for breakfast every day. I took my lunch and dinner at my father’s house. When my father was free, he also did other jobs, such as making rattan chairs. During that generation, rattan chairs were sold like hot cakes. Many people got ready their own rattan chairs when they watched outdoor movies at the football field. Besides, my father also went to the woods to chop the palm oil trees. He then shaved the tree barks into strips. After that, he gathered the strips and tied them with hemp ropes. He weaved the strips and made them into curtains and sold them out. I would say my father had a great skill. After being admitted for one year, my mother came to visit me and I told her that my father was currently cohabitating with another woman. My mother went home without confronting my father. I had no idea about how my mother was feeling that time……

Size: 17.5cm X 15.2cm

Location: The Valley of Hope Story Gallery

Owner: Leon Chee Kuang

Copyright: Leon Chee Kuang

 
 

Title: Inmate Worker (1)

Title (Original Language): 院民员工(一)

Year: 2017

Words in the Drawing:Previously Valley of Hope is a totally isolated community. All sorts of works in the settlement were carried out by the patients themselves. In this painting, I drew some of the work scenes which were related to these inmate workers such as teacher, Section Attendant, assistant nurse, coolie, dresser as well as Section Steward. There was one school, named Travers School, in this settlement. I had taught in this school before. I taught those Grade 1 and Grade 2 high school students Geography and Mathematics. My monthly salary was about RM100++. During that time, we didn’t have enough classrooms. Hence, we had to combine those Grade 1 and Grade 2 students into one class. There were about more than 10 students learning together. No one predicted that the school was closed down after one year plus. Before the school was closed, there were dozens of students studying in each grade. However, since year 1974, the government had implemented Leprosy Control Programme aggressively. They encouraged the patients to discharge the soonest as possible in order to reduce the number of patients in the settlement. Under this programme, those newly suffered patients were not forced to be segregated. They could get medical treatment from any hospital or clinic in each state. At that moment, we had a nursing school at our West Section and all the nurses from each state came here to undergo training. This was because those nurses had no idea about what leprosy was and they came over here to learn how to provide injection and medication to leprosy patients. When they went back to their states, they were able to take care of the patients. As a result, after providing training to a large group of nurses in each state, the government took further action to close our school and requested the students to leave the settlement. This harsh action had caused dissatisfaction among some of the students. They held demonstration to protest. In order to overcome the students’ anger, the authorities allowed the school to continue. Unfortunately, after a while, it was announced that the school had to be closed. Last time, the school was called Travers School and after that the name was changed to Sekolah Harapan. It was unexpected that right after the implementation of Leprosy Control Programme, our school had gone. I remember the school was closed down in 1975. 

Size: 17.5cm X 15.2cm

Location: The Valley of Hope Story Gallery

Owner: Leon Chee Kuang

Copyright: Leon Chee Kuang

 
 

Title: Inmate Worker (2)

Title (Original Language): 院民员工(二)

Year: 2017

Words in the Drawing: