So Many Roads ~ MALAYSIA AGAIN
flight from Medan to Penang, across the Straits of
Malacca, was the roughest I’d been on; we were
buffeted so badly that I really thought we would go
down, but we didn’t and landed alright. I stayed
in a branch-temple of Phor Kark See, by the name of
Miao Hiang Lim. According to the Chinese
Buddhist system, the abbot there was considered my
older brother, as he had also been ordained by Ven.
Hong Choon in Singapore; he spoke no English, so we
were unable to communicate much, but he treated me
fairly, and we got along alright. I never went to
stay in MBMC again, because I was regarded as a traitor
or renegade, but I did visit Luang Pau. From that
time, I would not see him again for the next 16 years.
Back in Malacca, things had been happening. The collectively-stupid
committee of SKE had finally woken up to Piyasilo;
he had done so many evil things ~ believing he was
immune from their effects ~ that they had decided
to expel him. Hearing I had returned, and probably
thinking they could use me against him, they invited
me to a meeting, but without telling him in advance.
Imagine his surprise to see me walk in the room where
they’d gathered! He recovered sufficiently to
brazen it out, however; he was, and still is, a very
clever person, and all the more dangerous for that.
He denied everything I confronted him with, including
his attack on me in his Holiday Work Camp notes, saying
it was just a hypothetical case, and he had not been
referring to a real person, either me or anyone else,
but everyone knew he was lying through his teeth.
I have never known anyone lie like him, and when a
person can lie like that there is nothing he cannot
do. While my interrogation of him was going on, the
committee-members must have been aware that they were
also ‘on trial,’ as they’d gone
along with him without a murmur of protest when he
first arrived from Bangkok to assume a position that
wasn’t his to assume, it being a Buddhist Association
and not a monastery; they had allowed him to do whatever
he wanted, and so were also responsible. I’ve
never had an apology from them, but then, they don’t
have a good track-record, as at least one other monk
came to grief there through their internal politics.
But I had been somewhat vindicated, having waited
two years, thinking that, given enough rope, this
demon would hang himself, and in his home-town, too!
I had not wished revenge on him, but did want to see
justice done, and can’t say I was sad when he
was exposed and got something of what he deserved.
This is not the end of the Piyasilo story; there is
more to come later.
I went again to Singapore for a while, and there met
an old man from Manila named Koh Boon Hian,
which was fortuitous, as I had decided to go there
for maybe three months to visit some of the psychic-healers
for which the Philippines is famous (most of them
are frauds and charlatans, no doubt, but some are
probably genuine). I had no contacts in Philippines,
and he told me he could arrange for me to stay in
one of the Chinese temples in Manila (he himself stayed
there when he was in the city), as he was due to return
there shortly. This was good news, and I told him
I would keep in touch with him, which I did.
I went up the East Coast again, and in Kuantan, met
someone ~ an engineer ~ who was humble and kind. He
had the idea of becoming a monk in the City of
Ten-Thousand Buddhas in California,
a temple that had been set up by a Master Hsuan
Hua. I wasn’t in favor, as this master
was extremely egoistic, always boasting of his psychic
powers, but I thought, let him go and see for himself;
it was perhaps the only way he would learn.
Next stop was Kuala Trengganu, where my involvement
with Vietnamese boat-people was about to begin, albeit
dead boat-people. Two weeks earlier, a large boat
packed with more than 200 people had pulled into the
estuary of the river there and tried to dock at the
jetty; but some Malays had refused to allow them and
threw stones to drive them away; the boat turned and
went down-stream, but hit a sand-bank in the river-mouth
and capsized; I don’t know if there were any
survi-vors, but the bodies, upon recovery by Chinese
people (Ma-lays would not touch the corpses of anyone
they considered kafirs ~ infidels), were buried in
a local Chinese cemetery in a mass unmarked-grave,
and Lao Chang requested me to go with him to the cemetery
to perform a ceremony for those unfortu-nates; there
was no monk in K.T. at that time to perform one (and
many Buddhists think only monks are qualified to perform
cere-monies of this nature; I don’t). I was
the first monk to come along after this tragedy (and
there were many such up this coast during the exodus
I readily agreed, and went with him to the
cemetery. Standing among blood-stained stretchers
that lay discarded beside the grave, I focussed my
thoughts and chanted something in the hope that those
people would somehow be at peace wherever they now
were. Malaysia doesn’t have a very good record
re-garding treatment of the boat-people, second only
to Thai-land, in fact, and the authorities of both
countries knew what was going on and did little or
nothing to stop or prevent the atrocities perpetrated
by their fishermen-pirates; attacks on boat-people
continued, and they were robbed, raped and murdered
for years; no-one will ever know how many perished
at sea in their attempt to reach safety and find peace,
freedom and happiness that was not available in Vietnam;
it is simply impossible to imagine or cal-culate,
but years ago, while it was going on, I read one estimate
of over 350,000!
There was a group of boat-people ~ live ones!
~ in an old warehouse near the river, not far from
the temple. They were visible from the road that ran
past, behind a barbed-wire fence. Sympathetic Chinese
from the town would throw food and clothes over the
fence to them.
Keong ~ the ghost-boy of the previous year
~ visited me so many times asking me to teach him
something that he became a bit of a nuisance; maybe
my ‘holy water’ had been too strong!
* * * * * * *
And here, I must draw my narrative to a
close. My next book will continue on from this, perhaps
in 2007. It will tell of my involvement with the boat-people
of Vietnam, and my further travels.