The Japanese Occupation in Penang, 1941-1945

Living Conditions in 1940
• The Cost of Living – very low.
• The value of one cent was much greater.

Transportation – mainly was bicycles, trolley buses, trishaw
• Trishaws (fare: 1mile – 10 cents)
• Only the riches would have cars
• There was less than 3,000 cars in Penang by then.

The Cinema – Majestic, Queen’s (Cathay), Odean, Winser, Rex.
• Majestic (1931) was the first cinema that showed talking pictures, as before this all the pictures shown in cinema was mute.
• Rex (1939) was the first air-conditioned cinema in Penang.
• The fare was a dollar for upstairs seat, 70cents for first class seat, 50cents for second class seat and 25cents for third class seat.

My Japanese Classmate, Mitsuo Matsutake.
• In 1940, School had a debate on the topic of “Science Has Done More Harm Than Good.”
• Mitsuo Matsutake was a Japanese spy – discovered this when he was later arrested by the British. His photo was hung at the Rogues’
Gallery in the court.

My Form 5 Examination, 1940.
• Cambridge School Certificates Examination, 1940 – The questions were set by Cambridge and the paper was to be marked in Cambridge.
• Because of the war, the exam paper can’t be sent to Cambridge by ship, despite it was sent by cable.
• The certificate was obtained only in 1946.

Black-out Practice? Not allowed to see light as soon as the sky turned dark.
• Lights was hidden in shades.
• Controlled by the Air Raid Precaution Wardens.

War came to Malaya
Japanese Troops Landed in Kota Bahru.
• On 8 Dec 1941, came down from Thailand.

Penang was Bombed.
• 8 Dec 1941, Japanese plane flew across Penang.
• In the evening of 9 Dec, British plane and Japanese plane fought in the air. The British plane went down (defeated).
• 10 Dec, Japanese bombed Bayan Lepas Aerodrome.
• 11 Dec, the main target was Prangin Market – It was the headquater for hard-carts
• People would moved from town to Air Itam and Jelutong.

The Form 5 Examination, 1941.
• Bombed during the last paper-flag drawing.
• Sinking of the Prince of Wales and the Repulse.
• The British left Penang.

Japanese Troops Landed in Penang on 17 Dec 1941.
• They were welcomed by community leaders such as Mr. Heah Joo Siang (Leader of Chinese Community), Mr. Saravanan Muthu
(Editor of Straits Echo), Mr. Baltatchet (Leader of Eurasian Community) etc.
All the house were to put up white flag or Japanese flag.

Japanese Robbers and Racists.
• Locals were forced to give in their valuable belongings, such as new bicycles, watches and fountain pens.
• They robbed and raped.

The First Proclamation.
• On 19 Dec, an article was announced by Japanese in English, in order to get the locals to surrender all the cars and buses.
• No one was allowed to own a car.

The Voluntary Contribution
• Penang Share (50 million Straits money) was surrendered to Japanese.
• Exchange British money for Japanese money ratio 1:1.

Japanese banana notes.
• No value, as it had no numbers on the notes.

The beheading
• My father witnessed a beheading.
• The cause of the accused was only a quarrel.

The Comfort Stations.
• Entertainment for Japanese soldiers–prostitutions.
• Local girls become prostitutes–only given meal coupons after the services.

Surrender of Singapore – The Chengay Procession.
• Singapore surrendered on 15 Feb 1942.
• Japanese Empire Day.
• Locals were forced to celebrate the day–Parade carrying Japanese flag.

Friends were Traitors
• Friends served the Japanese after surrendered.

The Roundout – The Hooded Terror
• People gathered for inspection, formed 4 by 4. Two hooded man can stop the procession to take anyone that was suspected. The
suspects would be taken away.