From Syonan to Fuji-Go is the fascinating saga of the self-supporting
Catholic settlement which was established for the Eurasian Catholic
community of Singapore in Bahau, a jungle hinterland district in the southeast
section of Negri Sembilan state in Malaya, during the Japanese
occupation of Singapore and Malaya.
It is a masterpiece of story-telling with accounts of courage, vision,
determination and dedication by all those involved in the settlement's
organization and its ultimate success and survival of so many in the
The narrative covers a wide range of events in Bahau and in Singapore
during the extremely difficult years including home building, water resources, farming, animals, food, local Chinese residents, medical infrastructure and
problems including malaria and lack of medicines, education of children,
communications, transport and travel, security, the Japanese presence and
officialdom, the Bahau office in Singapore, contact with members of Force
136 and the aftermath of the Japanese surrender and the community's return
As Paul Madden, British High Commissioner to Singapore 2007-11
commented - 'It is a story of heroes, victims and the tragic death of some 500
of the 3000 settlers'.
The author, Fiona Hodgkins, is the daughter of Mary Alethea de Souza who
as a child with her mother and family lived in Bahau during those very difficult
and dangerous years.
The 269 page book contains many interesting photos of people and places
and has to be a significant record of part of the turbulent history of Singapore
and Malaya during the second World War.
Most coincidentally, aged eleven, I was in Penang when the Japanese
attacked and was evacuated with my mother to Australia. In 1952 I returned
to Malaya as an Assistant Superintendent of Police at the height of the
Emergency and in 1953 commanded the Police District of Triang in the state
of Pahang which was adjacent to Bahau District in Negri Sembilan. During
this period I visited Bahau via the connecting railway for liaison purposes
during operations against the communist terrorists.
I greatly admired and enjoyed this outstanding record of events during the
tragic years of the Japanese occupation and commend it to those interested
in such an inspiring account of great fortitude and survival.