Special cheer for Ampang-born senior living in China

Connecting with each other: A combo photo of Yang Lang (above) watching a video message from Sow Yeong on a handphone.

GUANGZHOU - Octogenarian Yang Lang, who moved here more than six decades ago from his birthplace in Ampang, has much reason to cheer this Chinese New Year.

Longing to meet with his family members, many of whom still live in Kuala Lumpur, the 82-year-old was overjoyed when a group of his Malaysian relatives came a-calling recently.

The trip was specially planned by some of his nephews who missed the gaffer's cheery ways.

His elder sister Yong Sow Yeong, 91, was not fit enough to travel but sent a specially recorded video message.

Sow Yeong last visited her brother in this southern Chinese city four years ago.

"She took great care of us during our childhood in the good old days back in Jalan Ampang," reminisced Yang, the youngest of six siblings.

"She moved to Setapak after getting married. But she came back to our home in Ampang and loaded our bags onto a truck and took us all to stay with her," he recalled.

Yang and four siblings were born at their home in Batu 6, Jalan Ampang near Bukit Belacan in Selangor.

The eldest brother (born in China) and eldest sister died young, while another sister died in 2011.

Yang said he decided to move to China as a 19-year-old after working as a helper in a workshop for a few years because life in the then Malaya was not improving.

He joined a factory in Guangdong province to work in its motor engineering department until his retirement. He has not returned to Malaysia since.

His elder brother Yong Yatt also headed for China after his release from detention during the Malayan Emergency for suspicion of being a communist. He later moved to New York where he still lives.

Yang, who has five children, lamented that it was too difficult for the three aged siblings to travel long journeys to see each other.

Looking back, he said he and his siblings used to have fun setting up booby traps to capture wild boars on a hill near their home.

"After slaughtering the wild boar, I would take a bus to Setapak to present the meat to Sow Yeong. I loved the meat curry she cooked for me," he said.

Yang said he retained very fond memories of Malaysia and his family and friends.

"There was a stall at the junction of the Nine Emperor God Temple in Kampung Baru Ampang selling curry mee with cockles for 10 sen. The temple was always full of worshippers.

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"There were also many factories in Jalan Chan Sow Lin. I cycled an hour to work at the Sunheng motor factory there," he said.

He remembers some Malay words and phrases.

"There were rambutan trees at our backyard and when I saw a youth trying to pluck our fruits, I would shout tak boleh masuk sini (you cannot come in here)!"

Yang's niece Ng Kam Yoke, 53, said she had helped her mother (Yang's other elder sister Yong Sow Lan) write letters and postcards to her uncle and it was her first meeting with Yang.

"Just as I thought, Yang and his children are such warm people. We exchanged long hugs and really felt the love," she added.

Before the relatives left Guangzhou, they filmed Yang's video message - for posterity's sake. At their request, he sportingly sang three classical Cantonese songs for Sow Yeong.

"He is a really good singer. During my last visit to Guangzhou, my son and others sang karaoke during a dinner but Yang did not want to sing at all!" quipped Sow Yeong after watching the video in Kuala Lumpur.