I just finished reading the book "Mao's Great Famine". It brought back certain memories to me.
I am an ethnic Chinese lucky enough to be born and then grew up in Hong Kong, under the protection of the British Flag and not in China. If not I would either have been killed during the Great Leap Forward or have become a Red Guard and not been able to receive a proper education in the 1960s.
I was brought up by a maid who used to be a peasant in China and who escaped to Hong Kong at the time of the Great Leap Forward. She told me stories that at that time, many did not believe. She told me of the close cropping forced on the peasants by the Communist cadres. She told me how one night, the night before the village was to receive an inspector from the Central Government, the village party secretary forced all of them out into the field to pull up the saplings by about 1 inch so that the next day, the party secretary could tell the inspector all was well, the saplings were growing! She told me of the starvation. From rumors, I have also heard of cannibalism. Now all those were confirmed by Frank Dikotter's findings and reportage in that book.
The world should know of the horrors perpetrated by Mao, a man still honored by Communist China, a man whose body now lies preserved in that mausoleum in Beijing, a man whose legacy of mass murders put him in the same league as Stalin and Hitler, but managed to be honored officially by his own country as a great man and not vilified as a murderer. How did he do it?
I graduated from the Medical Faculty of Hong Kong University in the 1960s and later joined the Department of Medicine as a lecturer until i resigned and moved to Singapore in the 80s.
In 1967, I was the Secretary of the Hong Kong University Students' Union. That year was the year of the communists instigated riots in Hong Kong. We, the students, were a pretty apolitical lot in those days. We tried to keep our heads low and not say anything about the riots. Then one day, one of the communists newspaper, '''said they have received support from the HKU Students' Union. I was the secretary and I have never written that, nor has the President. That same evening, the Executive Committee divided into teams, went to all the hostels and took a poll. Something like 98% of the students polled were against the riots. That same evening, we issued a press release saying, "This morning, '' reported they have received from the HKUSU statement of support for the riots, the Executive Committee had never issued that statement and a poll of the students the same day showed 98% of the students polled were against it." The President received a letter with the picture of a coffin in it, and fake bombs were placed in the Students' Union premises. I learnt a lesson - in China, truth is what power says it is - the age old story from the time of the Warring Kingdom was still true, '''', (to point to a deer and says it is a horse).
Then in 1980, after the fall of the Gang of Four, China was trying to rehabilitate its doctors, many of whom were sent to the field as labourers. A team of lecturers from HKU was requested to go back to China and to give a series of lectures to those doctors. I was part of that team. We went to Guangzhou. One night, there was a knock on the door of our room in the Hotel. A man in his 60s stood there. He then told us he was a graduate from HKU Medical School, and in the 1950s, he heeded the call of Mao to overseas Chinese to go back to China and help the country. During the Cultural Revolution, he was branded a rightist and he and his family were sent to Tangshan to work as miners. During the earthquake of 1976, his whole family was killed. "I am a lonely man now", he said. He then requested us to put him in touch with HKU again. After that, he left the room and I accompanied him on his way out. Whilst in the corridor, and having ascertained there was no other person in the corridor, he put his hand around my shoulder, and whispered these words into my ear, "I am a member of the Communist Party, and I tell you, Communism is bad." He then quickly walked away.
The heinous deeds perpetrated by Mao should be widely known. I am so glad Frank Dikotter wrote that book which confirmed all my personal experience. Even though present day China seems to be a different beast compared with Mao's China, until they take that man's body out of the mausoleum, one still has questions regarding the trustworthiness of China - is Truth still defined by Power?