Sunday, May 11, 2008

Kesan Peristiwa 13 Mei 1969 - suatu konspirasi?

Sunday May 11, 2008
The shot that changed her life
By LEE HUNG POH

Everyone old enough to remember it has tales to tell. Here are the stories – sad, touching and inspiring – of five individuals who lived through May 13.
I WAS 17 when a bullet changed my whole life. I started working at 13 as my family was poor and there were 10 of us. On that day, I went to work at the F&N factory in Sungei Besi, Kuala Lumpur.
Around 7pm, factory workers arriving for their shift spoke of fights in the streets. I decided to go home. After dinner, I stood at the doorway to see what was happening. Many people were standing outside their houses. We heard shouts and then a police patrol car came by and the men inside started firing shots at our houses.

Lee Hung Poh was 17 (below) when she was crippled by a stray shot. Through sheer determination she has built a life for herself.


I saw two bullets hitting our walls. Another bullet hit my sister’s shoulder. I felt a sharp pain in my stomach and the impact threw me to the floor. I could hear my sisters screaming, “Ah Poh chung cheung!” (Ah Poh has been shot!).
I bled so much that it looked as though a pail of blood had spilled across the floor. Neighbours grabbed a passing car and sent me to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital.
I was semi-conscious when I reached the hospital. I was sent to a room where there were many dead or badly wounded people. Nobody attended to me until the pain was so great I managed to scream, “Hoi toe!” (Surgery!).
I heard a voice saying, “She is still alive” and then I was wheeled to the operating room.
The bullet had entered through the right side of my belly and exited across the left side of my back. It had cut through the L345 bone of my vertebrae, which controls movement of the lower body.
The doctors told me I would be paralysed for life.
My stomach wound required 21 stitches. A few days later, it became infected and I went for a second surgery. I had over 10 surgeries and suffered from bedsores.
The real damage was not visible. I could not laugh or shout because any exertion caused incontinence. I was terrified to go out and had low self esteem. Fever broke out frequently and the pain in my legs was so intense that only morphine helped.
I constantly thought of my future. What would I do? Who would want me? My parents cried constantly. In those days, it was shameful to be a cripple.
My father and I were very close; he was badly affected by what happened to me. He started drinking heavily. He’d sit on my bed and cry.
The next year, a disabled organisation held a fund-raising campaign to send me to China for treatment. The Star did a story on me and helped raise RM3,000 for the trip.
I carried all my hope to China. But I returned without any.
Acupuncture helped strengthen my legs which were as thin as matchsticks. But after 10 months in Beijing, I did not even recover 50% of what I’d hope for. I was so disappointed that during the five-day boat trip back to Malaysia, I’d thought of jumping overboard. I had little education and no skills. What could I do for my future?
Then in 1972 a doctor at a Hong Kong Hospital heard about my story and invited me for treatment. I took a RM500 loan to fly to Hong Kong. A metal rod was inserted into my back to enable to stand. But to this day I am unable to walk unaided.
I discovered later that the doctor had performed the surgery for free. I will always be grateful to him for his kindness.
When I came home, I learnt that my home had been demolished and my family scattered. I was determined to be independent. I set up a stall selling fruits along the five-foot way in Sungei Besi. I also sold popcorn and soya bean along Jalan Hang Tuah and sewed clothes and curtains at night.
After 10 years, I saved enough money to open a small sundry shop in Taman Segar, Cheras, with a friend.
I even got my driver’s licence and I deliver goods in my secondhand Proton. A few years later, I bought a nearby flat.
My father died in 1979. In 1996, my mother moved in to live with me until her death last year.
They say time heals but it’s not true. Every year on May 13, I feel the need to hide in my room. I just can’t face this date.
Today I live independently. I have many friends. I harbour a dream of visiting Venice, a city built on water!
But I do feel bitter –there has been no acknowledgement of what happened to me. But then, no one can give me back my health, or my years. What can ever compensate what I’ve lost? – as told to CHIN MUI YOON
Lee Hung Poh, 57, lives in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
Source: The Star Newspaper 11 May 2008. Page SM16.

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