Re-screening of “Light on the Lotus Hill” at Projector X after 12 years

Re-screening of “Light on the Lotus Hill” at Projector X after 12 years

SINGAPORE — “Light on the Lotus Hill“, a 30-min documentary film and research project by Chan Chow Wah to document an almost-forgotten history of Singapore and World War Two, is screening at PROJECTOR X: PICTUREHOUSE this coming Saturday once again after 12 years since its premiere.

This was the first documentary by Mr Chan, who wrote a novel about Venerable Pu Liang, the Abbott of the monastery of the famous Shuang Lin Monastery in Toa Payoh, who was killed in the 1942 Sook Ching Massacre, a mass annihilation of 25,000-50,000 innocents who supported China’s war effort.

Venerable Pu Liang organized the fundraiser for the temple’s operation and raised a total of 10,000 Straits Dollars (over S$90,000 in value today), which he then donated to the China Relief Fund meant for medical supplies, war materials and also weapons for China to fight against the Japanese in World War II.

Venerable Pu Liang explained at a press conference that ‘in times of crisis, every citizen, regardless of age, sex, or religion, has a duty to serve the country’ and implied that this was his way of contributing to the people, given his limited resources as a Venerable.

In addition to this significant benefaction, he was a key figure during the Japanese Occupation, doing many charitable deeds, such as allowing Burma Road volunteers to train at the monastery and holding memorials and prayers for war casualties.

Sadly, Venerable Pu Liang, along with two of his disciples, was killed at an execution site in Changi Beach after the fall of Singapore under orders to eliminate anti-Japanese sentiments in Singapore.

A report from Lianhe Zaobao in 1999 about a former trainee at the Shuang Lin Monastery sparked the interest of a Buddhist nun, Venerable Mun Cheng, who saved a clipping of the morning post.

She kept the newspaper clipping for six years and, in 2005, hired anthropologist Mr Chan to track down the whereabouts of Wu Hui Min.

The London School of Economics graduate, who has a penchant for history and heritage, decided to kill two birds with one stone and travel to China to rediscover his roots and track down Wu. He finally found Wu Hui Min after an arduous six months.

Mr Chan then came to know of Venerable Pu Liang through Wu Hui Min and was shocked to discover that this martyr’s story hasn’t been documented in history.

He then dedicated a significant portion of his life thereafter to efforts to restore Venerable Pu Liang’s story to the annals of Singaporean history, where, Mr Chan believes, he rightfully belongs.

Mr Chan tackled this formidable task with zest and spent four years in research. He brought this practically unknown piece of vital history back into the public’s eye and, in 2009, published a novel revolving around the Abbott – a piece of contemporary historical fiction documenting the Sino-Japanese War and the Sook Ching Massacre, as seen through the eyes of a monk.

The novel was later turned into the documentary ‘Light on the Lotus Hill’, which was put together with original 1930s footage from Mr Chan’s research, conceptualized and mixed entirely by him.

If you would like to view the show – on a pay-as-you-wish basis – this coming Saturday, you can sign up for the screenings at 2 pm and 3.30pm.

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