Friday, September 15, 2006

War Heroine Elizabeth Choy dies

Singapore's WWII "heroine" dies

(Kyodo) _ A woman captured and tortured by Japanese soldiers during World war II and dubbed Singapore's "war heroine" died Thursday at the age of 95, state-run local media said.

Elizabeth Choy died of pancreatic cancer at her home in Singapore, according to the reports.

She was captured and tortured by Japanese soldiers during Japan's invasion of Singapore between 1942 and 1945, but apparently had compassion for those who tortured her, reportedly saying "No" when asked by a war tribunal after the war if she wanted her torturers executed.

"If not for war, they would be just like me. They would be at home with their family, doing just ordinary things and peaceful work. Let us pray that there will be no more war," she was quoted to have once said.

According to a short official biography of her, Choy was born on Nov. 29, 1910, in North Borneo and came to Singapore in 1929 to further her studies.

During the Japanese occupation, she worked as a canteen operator with her husband at a hospital. They secretly brought food, medicine, money, messages and even radios to British prisoners-of-war and were eventually caught by the Japanese

The Japanese suspected that the Choys were connected with the British and the sinking of ships by relaying information secretly between prisoners-of-war in Singapore's Changi Prison and the Allied forces.

The Japanese tortured and killed some of the prisoners at Changi Prison in an incident that came to be known as the "Double Tenth Massacre."

Choy was interrogated by the Japanese military police but she never admitted to being a British sympathizer. She was released only after 200 days of starvation diet and repeated torture.

When the war ended, she was invited to Britain as a celebrated war heroine noted as the only female local to have been incarcerated for such an extended period. After the war, 21 Japanese officers were tried for war crimes related to the Double Tenth Massacre.

"My most agonizing torture was -- besides all the kicking and punching -- nothing compared to the electric shocks -- they applied electricity to my bare body," she had been quoted as saying in a recent documentary.

After the war, she worked for four years as a model in Britain and later became Singapore's first female legislator and worked as a teacher for 40 years.

Choy is mentioned in the "Who's Who in Singapore" directory as a war heroine.
Singaporean President S.R. Nathan said in his condolence message that "many among the older generation will recall her as a wartime heroine" but he added that she was "more than a war heroine."

"We have lost a truly remarkable woman and a shining example of courage and compassion," he said.

Links to more information about Mrs Elizabeth Choy
An Extra-ordinary Life


I did not have the privilege of personally knowing this remarkable woman.

The facts speak for themselves.

Courage, humility and forgiveness are just some of the obvious virtues that all of us can learn from Mrs. Choy.

May she rest in peace.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

"If not for war, they would be just like me. They would be at home with their family, doing just ordinary things and peaceful work. Let us pray that there will be no more war" Elizabeth Choy ( when asked why her torturers did not deserve execution)


Whispers from the heart said...

No one wins in a war.

If only everyone of us refuses to go to war!

Of course, that's childish thinking of mine ...

I wish for humanity to have wisdom to avoid wars instead of preparing for them.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Whispers,
Although I don't consider myself a "peacenik" but reading about the tragedies of My Lai; Srebenica and now Iraq, make me realise that peace is a precious commodity to be treasured.
We must be skeptics of politicians who talk loudly of war for ultimately the ones to suffer will not be these politicians but innocent people, usually in far-off unheard-off places.

IML said...

There is a malay proverb, when the elephants clashes, it's the ants on the ground that are being trampled dead.

Anonymous said...

i am proud to say that i am from the same school as her... Mrs. Choy was a Student from Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus... CHIJ... she has all the values of an IJ girl...

Yen Sin said...

Dear Mrs. Choy, may you RIP(rest in peace.)