Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 November 2020
As Britain brought the peninsula under control, tin and rubber would eventually make it a jewel of British possession in Southeast Asia. With that knowledge, Britain knew what it needed to do and why it should stay when at the end of the Second World War it was challenged by an anti-colonial movement of some force and legitimacy.—Yao Souchou
HAU-SHIK had returned to Malaya without his family, and was living at 12–14 Sultan Street in Kuala Lumpur when he wrote to his wife on 26 November 1945:
As soon as I finish inspecting the tin mines and have made my report to General Hone, I shall come back to Bombay. I hope you will look after everything in the flat. The cost of living here is very very high indeed, and it will be better for our family to remain in India until things become more normal.
Incidentally, Hau-Shik's departure from India was saddened by a breakdown of relations between his family and that of his brother Hau Mo. The two families had by then been staying together in India for three years. On 13 December, he wrote to his children, telling them that he had moved back to 16 Golf View Road at the beginning of the month, and had employed two maid servants to prepare the house for their return even though he did not know when that would be. He was also arranging for their schooling: “I have got all the beds for you but there is no mosquito net, no mattress, no bed sheets and no pillows so you had better bring these things back yourselves.”
It was indeed a new Malaya they were all returning to. In fact, they were entering a new world into which much adaptation was needed. Hau-Shik was positioned to play an essential part in this new world, not least in the founding of a new troubled but optimistic country. Tan Cheng Lock, whose reputation after a lifetime spent in business and public administration was already an extremely impressive one, would soon take on an even more prominent role in history. Cheng Lock returned to Malaya only in June 1946.
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