- Tue, Nov 14, 2017 01:00 PM
Latitude: 1.28868, Longitude: 103.851
“Life generally is a bit hedged in with precautions at the moment,” Jean Marshall wrote, with characteristic understatement, to her parents in England. Experience the fragments of Malaya’s turbulent history through one woman’s heartfelt letters to her birthplace in England. Join us for an evening with Jean Marshall, who will be sharing about her year in Pahang and reading from the letters she wrote back to her family in England over 60 years ago. ABOUT THE BOOKTwenty-seven-year-old Jean was in rural Malaya working as a field officer with the British Red Cross for a year in 1953–54. When Malaya was in a state of Emergency, Communist insurgents, using the jungle as cover, engaged in guerrilla war against the colonial state. During this time, Jean was appointed under a Red Cross scheme to provide medical and welfare services in the New Villages—guarded settlements of villagers relocated from the jungle fringes in a government move to cut off aid to the militants. From west Pahang where she was posted, Jean wrote weekly to her family and occasionally to her friends, sharing with them her impressions of Malaya and the details of her daily life and work.Wittily and elegantly phrased, these letters are historical documents. They illuminate the social and professional world of a young and perceptive Englishwoman who was in small-town Malaya during the last days of empire.ABOUT THE AUTHORJean Marshall was born Jean Mary Gray in Orpington, Kent, in 1926. She read Economics and Sociology at the London School of Economics. After training as a medical social worker and working in England and Malaya, in 1957 she joined the University of Malaya in Singapore to develop a course in medical social work. In 1961, Jean married the renowned lawyer, David Marshall, who had been Singapore’s first elected chief minister and was later its first ambassador in France. Their four children and six grandchildren live in Singapore, London and Paris. Jean sees her year in Pahang (1953–54), from where the letters in this book were written, as the start of her Singapore Story.ABOUT THE EDITORMandakini Arora is a historian of gender and colonialism with a penchant for oral history. She started life in tea country in the northeast of India and went to boarding school in Darjeeling followed by college in Delhi. She has a master’s degree in Indian history from Jawaharlal Nehru University and a PhD in Russian history from Duke University. Mandakini moved in 1999, with her husband and daughter, to Singapore where she has lived since.