The Teochew Store Blog / Hong Kong
“When the tidal wave came, the most vulnerable died tragically: some parents who carried several children were forced to let go the daughters to save themselves from drowning. Some mothers carried the babies with them and floated in the water, but the husbands took away the babies in order to save their wives. Some elderly parents could not swim and their sons did not abandon them, and they were all drowned. Some parents could not hold too many children together and they griped the children’s hair and little arms, but when they reached the high grounds, the younger ones had already died. Some elderly parents did not want to burden their adult children and they drowned themselves in order to save the family line. There were couples tied themselves together with strings but they were drowned. After the disaster, some people could not bear the deaths of their loved ones and they committed suicide.”
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A gold rush in the 1850s and 1860s brought thousands of Chinese from Guangdong to Australia, including a small number of Teochews. The Land Down Under has today a mix of Teochew immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and China and this documentary produced in 2000 documents their stories. Interestingly, the television crew from Swatow also discovered a place where the Teochew language was widely spoken in Sydney's Cabramatta suburb.
1990s Hong Kong is best remembered as a wealthy financial hub and the centre of the Chinese film industry. People often overlooked that pre-1997 Hong Kong was also, after Thailand, home to the world's second largest Teochew diaspora that numbered about 1.2 million. Just how large was the contribution of the Teochew people's contribution to Hong Kong's prosperity?
Escaping Cambodia with five children in the 1970s, a Teochew couple were cruelly separated on the Thailand border. Yet they were miraculously reunited in Canada five years later and after much hard work, eventually came to own a supermarket. Notwithstanding its great distance from Asia, Canada is a gathering point for Teochews who resettled from Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong and China. Let’s watch this video where several of them share their stories and aspirations.
2019 is officially the bicentennial year of Singapore, a former British colony and today one of Asia's wealthiest cities.
The island-state is also home to the second largest Teochew overseas diaspora, after Thailand, and up till the mid-20th century a critical node on a trading and migratory network that connected the principal Teochew port of Swatow with key trading centres such as Hong Kong, Saigon and Bangkok. Teochews from Singapore were responsible for the early economic development of Johor, Malaysia's southernmost state whose capital Johor Bahru was once known as "Little Swatow".
What has long been forgotten is that more than half a century ago, the Teochews in Singapore held to an oral tradition claiming that their forerunners were settled in Singapore before Sir Stamford Raffles, the Englishman hailed as Singapore's modern founder, even arrived. If true, this assertion will demand a change in the written history of Singapore.
Starting from this week, The Teochew Store will publish in three parts an in-depth research that sheds light into what this oral tradition says and seeks to verify its authenticity and accuracy.
Origins of the Teochew People - Archaeological Evidences (Part 1): Traces of Teochew's Oldest Inhabitants