Occupants of several New Territories villages, including Yeung Ka Tsuen in Yuen Long and Kei Ling Ha in Sai Kung, saved the lives of more than 800 activists wanted by the Japanese army during the 1941-1945 occupation.
The villagers’ heroism is revealed in a new book, The Great Escape During the Japanese Occupation — the Pride of Hong Kong people, Apple Daily reported Friday.
Their deeds were reminiscent of those of Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who was credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during the Nazi regime, the newspaper said.
Chui Yuet-ching, whose parents were members of the Society of the Veterans of the Original Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dong Jiang Column (東江游擊隊), said she heard her parents talking about how New Territories villagers took immense risks in saving dissidents from the Japanese regime.
She has spent the last three decades gathering information and the last three years compiling it into the Chinese-language book.
Chui said many social activists, scholars and writers, such as Shen Dehong (pen name Mao Dun) and Bing Xin, who had fled from Shanghai and Nanjing, were producing anti-Japanese propaganda out of Hong Kong.
As soon as the city was occupied by the Japanese, their lives were at stake, and the New Territories villagers did everything they could to smuggle them out of Hong Kong.
Chui’s father, Chui Koon-sang, who owned a fish stall in Sai Kung, made his house the communications and coordination center for the escape operation.
It was arranged for the activists to arrive in Sai Kung via Ngau Tsz Wan from the east, before they could board boats that would take them to Huiyang in Guangdong province.
Alternatively, they were taken to Yuen Long from Tsuen Wan via Tai Mo Shan before proceeding to the mainland.
Chui Yuet-ching said there were many military checkpoints along the escape routes.
Many New Territories villagers and merchants risked their lives by serving as guarantors in applying for certificates of no criminal conviction for the fleeing activists.
Without the certificate, it was almost impossible for them to pass through the military checkpoints.
Chui said the escape operation was a great success, as all the 800 activists were able to leave Hong Kong unscathed.
The villagers who helped in the operation were not from any political groups but were all ordinary citizens, which, she said, underlines the selflessness and the sense of justice among the people of Hong Kong.
The Antiquities and Monuments Office has classified the house of the Yeung family in Yeung Ka Tsuen in Yuen Long as a Grade 2 historic building; that is, one of special merit.
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