Sunday, February 10, 2019


This was in December 2016 when I had the pleasure and honour of meeting this Iconic man for the first time.…

We all have those metamorphic moments that spin our lives around and send us in completely new directions. I've had several, but perhaps the most transformative was a newspaper cutting from the 'Malay Mail' newspaper in distant Kuala Lumpur. A thoughtful aunt had dispatched this to me in England when I was desperately seeking new horizons.
That cutting sent me on an overland journey from London to India by bus, and then on by sea from Calcutta to Penang. It also led me to eight of the happiest years of my life as a roving correspondent in what was then Malaya but has subsequently become Malaysia.
Ong Hohin, who had had been recruited to the 'Malay Mail' library in August 1957, was just seventeen years old. When I arrived two months later, to join the newspaper's editorial team, I was 22.
This month the 'Malay Mail' will be celebrating its 120th anniversary. Which provided a good excuse for Ong (now 78) and his former 'Malay Mail' colleague Tony Mariadass (a great deal younger) to visit me for an afternoon of reminiscence. They were accompanied by photographer Azneal Ishak.



Peter Moss, senior journalist from England who joined Malay Mail in September 1957 till 1965, when he left for Hong Kong, passed away @ 12,40pm yesterday (Saturday) due to respiratory failure which he was battling for the last 15 days. Peter was 84. 
He was a well travelled man and multi-talented person, who writes, paints,was a pilot and who was brought up in India where his father worked until India's Independence in 1947.

I had the privileged to meet him in Ijok, Selangor, when I was told about him by former NST librarian Ong Ho Hin who had joined the Malay Mail one month before Peter Moss.
Ong Hohin, MM Photographer Azneal Ishak and me drove to his home in Ijok to interview Peter and it was one of the most interesting interviews I have done in my career. 
Peter had prepared lunch for us (courtesy of his friends who live with him) and we spent nearly 4 to 5 hours with him.
I have kept in touch with ever since and the XMail veterans football team had the pleasure of meeting up with him and his buddy Rino SP Cantillanowho worked in Hong Kong, in Bacolod City last October. He spent five days with us.

The XMail team were competing in the 1st NOFA Invitational International Veterans 9s football tournament.

Peter had an incident in Bacolod when he went out with Rino to witness the Masakara festival and he was robbed of his wallet. Brave-heart Rino gave chase, had a deep cut in his hand in the process, but with the help of the Police, managed to capture the snatch thief and recovered Peter's wallet. Peter's life has been filled with adventures - good and bad.

We were again supposed to have met at the Malay Mail 122 Anniversary dinner at the Royal Selangor Club in Bukit Kiara on Dec 14 last year, but unfortunately Peter was under the weather after a trip to Bangkok and called me on the day of the event to say he cant make it and did not want to spread his flu to the rest of the attendees.
It was sad that he did not make it because besides several of his friends of his era including Ong who were anxiously looking forward to meeting him, the many newer generation journalists were also looking forward to meeting this interesting Icon.
It was not be.
I was looking to meeting him up with him again and even had planned to stay with him Laguna when I was travelling to Manila at the end of the March.
Yes, Peter stays six months in Malaysia and six months in Philippines. He was scheduled for a visit to Hong Kong, where he spent most of working life, at the end of March too.
But he is gone now and may he rest in peace and may the good Lord grant him eternal rest
Rest in peace my dear friend. We will all miss you immensely..
His body will be cremated in Manila and the ashes sent back to London.
Below is the interview I did on him and appeared in The Malay Mail, which now turns out to be in memory of him. 
Pictures were taken by Azneal and some pictures were provided by Peter himself.

Here's in memory of him:

By Tony Mariadass
Pictures by: Azneal Ishak

How the Malay Mail changed Peter’s life

The Malay Mail played a major part in shaping veteran journalist and author, Peter Moss.
Moss who turned 81 on June 27, was the first roving reporter of Malay Mail when he joined in September 1957.
Although he was with the newspaper for only eight years and had spent more than 40 years in Hong Kong, he now lives shuttling between Ijok in Batang Berjuntai and at the Laguna Bay in Luzon City.

“We all have those metamorphic moments that spin our lives around and send us in completely new directions. I've had several, but perhaps the most transformative was a newspaper cutting from the 'Malay Mail' newspaper in distant Kuala Lumpur,” said Moss when met at his home in Ijok.

“A thoughtful aunt had dispatched this to me in England when I was desperately seeking new horizons.
“That cutting sent me on an overland journey from London to India by bus, and then on by sea from Calcutta to Penang. It also led me to eight of the happiest years of my life as a roving correspondent in what was then Malaya but has subsequently become Malaysia.”
Moss who met his old friend, Ong Ho Hin at Ijok said: “Ong was recruited to the 'Malay Mail' library in August 1957, was just seventeen years old. When I arrived two months later, to join the newspaper's editorial team, I was 22.”
It was Moss’ story of his journey to Malaya from England that landed Moss his job with Malay Mail.
He related: “I was born in Allahabad India, where my father (William Frank Moss) was serving the British army before India’s independence in 1947. (Mother was Holly Watson). Despite my British inheritance, my British passport and my English education, I had not developed a wholly British identity and outlook. Britain had failed to imprint herself on my psyche.
“But while I could not consider myself a product of my father’s land, I did see myself as a by-product of her empire. I had been weaned on her imperial accomplishments and regretted the speed with which that history was being relegated to the trash can. I was - as many in my family saw me trapped in a time warp, floundering in the wake of a sunken liner, desperately reaching for a life raft.”
Moss after completing his studies in England, was from 1950-1953 an apprentice reporter at Bexhill-on-Sea Observer, before from 1953-1955 joined the National Service with the Royal Army Pay Corps.
From 1955-1957 he was a district reporter at East Sussex Express & County Herald.
It was after receiving the cutting from his aunt in Malaya about the overland trip he decided to return to India.
He related: “The advertisement for the overland ride was 85 pounds and I decided to take the trip.”
Moss travelled overland from London to Calcutta, through France, Italy,
Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Baluchistan and India and said it took him 45 days and had 45 pounds as his pocket money – a pound a day.
But when he arrived in Calcutta, he found out that Mother India too had effectively closed her doors on him in the decade since his departure as he found life difficult as an Anglo Indian because their resentment for the English.
Moss’ aunt in Malaya turned saviour once again, when she bought him a ship passage ticket to board the SS Santhia, sailing from Kidderpore dock in Calcutta for Singapore passing through Burma.
Moss disembarked in Penang but ran into problems with the immigration
He had already realised that he would have problems heading to Malaya as on August 31st 1957—at the hour of his departure from London’s Victoria coach station on his overland odyssey—Malaya had severed her ties with Empire.
Malaya’s independence from Britain also rang down the curtain on his chances of obtaining residential status.
Moss managed to convince the immigration into giving him a one-week pass to be in Malaya by which time he was hoping to get employment and a work permit.
“I had actually written to Malay Mail before I left England seeking for employment, but what I did not know was that they had replied that there was no vacancies.
“When I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, I went to Malay Mail and met the editor, Martin Hutton. It was then he asked me if I had not received the letter saying that there was no vacancies.
“I pleaded for a job and after I told him of my overland journey to India and then my ship to Malaya to pursue my dream to work in Malaya, then he decided to give me an opportunity to write about my travel experience.
“The next I knew after my article was read by Hutton with my first byline, I was offered a job and got my working permit eventually. 

Moss was the chief reporter but given the roving reporter status and had the freedom to write articles which interest him and eventually became the News Editor.
He worked with other journalists and editors like Derek Fenney, Alan Wolstenholme and Leslie Hoffman to name a few.
Peter Moss standing fourth from right

During his days with Malay Mail from 1957-1965 he reported on the last years of the Malayan Emergency, the first years of Malaya's independence following
Merdeka, the Rural Development Scheme, the birth of Malaysia and Confrontation with Indonesia.
In 1960 he was hand-picked by Sir Robert Thomson, then Malaya’s secretary for security, to write a series of articles on the ‘Hidden War’ which continued on the Thai-Malayan border after the end of the Emergency - an assignment which attached him to operational troops on both sides of the frontier.
“During these years I also wrote numerous articles for the Straits Times
Sunday features pages, and was given the freedom to act as roving correspondent, personally selecting off-beat assignments which took me deep into the jungles to live with aboriginal communities or visiting remote insular communities in the Malacca Straits and South China Sea,” said Moss whose life story is so intriguing that he had to write three volumes in an autobiographical that began with Bye Bye Blackbird and Distant Archipelagos and finally the No Babylon.
He has to his credit authored 38 books among them include An Anglo-Indian Memoir, Memories of Malaya, The Singing Tree, The Colour of Asia, Hong Kong Handover, The Long March Back, Hong Kong Style, The Very Nature of Hong Kong, Skylines Hong Kong, Passing Shadows, Lijiang: The Imperilled Utopia, Chinese Symbolism Another City, Another Age; Hong Kong: What’s to See, Building Hong Kong, The Age of Elephants, set in India, White Guerrilla, set in Hong Kong and the Philippines; Landfall, set in Vanuatu, River in Search of a Sea, set in South Africa.
Moss said he would have loved to remain in Malaya, but he could not get his work permit renewed any longer and that was when he moved out to Hong Kong in 1965, where he started off as a Senior Information Officer, with the Hong Kong Government Information Services writing feature articles for overseas publications for three years before he was promoted to Principal Information Officer, editing all government publications for another three years before he was posted to Hong Kong Government Secretariat as its first Principal Information Officer (1971-1975).
He was then promoted to Chief Information Officer in charge of all government publicity campaigns and special promotions.
On retirement in 1993 from the Hong Kong Government he joined Ogilvy & Mather Public Relations (HK) as Deputy Managing Director, handling public affairs and government liaison.
Then in 1995 he decided to take up residence in Canada, which he described as the worst decision in his life.
“I was hoping for a happy retirement in Canada, but I was miserable, lonely and really did not like the place.
“It was then I decided to return to Hong Kong as consultant to Salon Films, Hong Kong’s principal one-stop film production facility.
To date in addition to several scripts for documentaries and shorts produced by
Salon Films, he has also completed twelve screenplays, one of which, based on his novel The Singing Tree.
The multi-talented Moss was Appointed Justice of the Peace in 1986 and in January 1994 awarded the M.B.E. in the Queen's New Year’s Honours list.
Then he decided Malaysia was his home, but could not afford the fees for making it his ‘Second Home’ and decided he will shuttle between Philippines and Malaysia.

And in both places, it is friends who have made it possible to make his home.
In Ijok, it was Mukti Mat Sahid, a driver, whom he befriended during his early days in Malaya for him to learn Malay and Mukti who was interested to learn English.
They became good friends and he even took Mukti and his family to be with him in Hongkong and even
educated the two sons – Mazli, who became a banker in
Malaysia when they returned from Hong Kong.
Moss’ bonding with Mukit grew strong after he had saved his life by rescuing the latter from his kampong in Ijok, where he was dying from an illness, to take him to the hospital in Kuala Lumpur and see him recover.
In Philippines, it is another friend, an engineer, Rino Cantillano, whom he befriended while working in Hong Kong, who has become his other adopted brother besides Mukti, and now back in Luzon shares his home with Moss.
The Malay Mail in indeed and institution which has indeed played a key role in charting and shaping the lives of thousands who had worked with the paper.


Monday, January 28, 2019


Blogger Satwant Singh just informed that triple international Daphne Boudville passed away this morning at the Klang Hospital.
She would have turned 77 this May.
Picture shows Daphne (third from left) at the OCM Hall of Fame induction in 2013,

Below is an Icon piece I did on her in May in 2014 a week after her 72nd birthday.
May she rest in peace,
Unheralded queen of sports
DAPHNE BOUDVILLE is married to sports and her whole life till today revolves around it.
Daphne who turned 72 last Saturday never got married because her first and only love was sports.
While many who know Daphne will associate as a hockey player for almost three decades, but many may not know that she was also a national athlete winning the 800m bronze medal at the 1965 SEAP Games in Kuala Lumpur and a national footballer player with the first national women’s team in 1965.
Besides, these three sports she was also actively involved at State level in netball, badminton and competed in cross-country runs and big walks.
“I loved sports from a very young age and would play any sports on the streets near my home in Peel Road to late at night under the street lights,” said Daphe who is still active doing her daily jogs and walks to keep fit and healthy.
“I was a tomboy and used to play hockey, football and badminton against the boys in my neighbourhood,” said Daphne the fifth in a family of nine.
“At the age of seven I trained on my own in the evenings after school by running around the field just to enjoy the fresh air and gain stamina.
“The training increased my appetite for more activities.”
Daphne said that her first hockey stick was a bamboo stick.
“Few schoolboys, girls and I explored the jungle nearby and I cut a strong bamboo stick and brought it home to shape it, sand papered it, oiled it to make it my first hockey stick.
“With that stick I enjoyed hours of hockey from the age of nine. A hockey team was formed at my school (Peel Road Convent) by the sports teacher Miss Lee. Soon more girls were interested in the game and inter-school tournaments were held and we emerged champions,” said Daphne who used canvass rubber studded shoes until she could afford a decent pair of boots in the 70s.
Daphne said that she still remembers the days when she used to play hockey every day after school at a small field which was close to a pond and lost so many hockey balls which landed in the pond.
“It was distressing moments when the balls went into the pond because we did not have money to buy new balls.
“It was then we played under the streetlights with the boys on sandy patches. It was here I improved on stick work, flicks, basics skills, stopping, hitting and pushing accurately.
“Then we moved on to play at the Kampong Pandan indoor cement courts and played in six-a-side and nine-a-side tournaments, which was a sheer joy.”
Daphne said that although there were no monetary gains for being involved in sports then, it was sheer happiness and the opportunity to play for school, district, state and nation later that kept her going.
Apart from hockey during her schooldays, Daphne took part in athletics in an era where there was only 100 and 200 metres.
And at the age of 16, Daphne was selected to play for Selangor and went on to play for 26 years, while she turned out for the nation for 21 years and earned 450 caps and won many titles including Asian champion in 1974.
Daphne attached with the Public Service Department worked in various Government departments which saw her compete in the Government Services Games in various sports.
“I was lucky as a as PSD staff, leave to attend training and compete in competitions were never a problem.”
However, she said that having to compete in many sports and various levels required her to be fit and strong.
“I took care of myself. I did my own training. My training was highly intense, individual and self-motivated.
“I used to cycle from my home in Peel Road to Batu Caves to run up the 272 steps up and down and cycle back to strengthen my legs and muscles.
“When we got a small daily meal allowance during training camps, I would use the money to eat steaks, eggs and fruits, while many of my teammates will eat instant noodles.
“I took up sports seriously because of sheer joy, my dedication and commitment to the sport, the sacrifices I was prepared to make and my interest in it.
“Sports in return has moulded me by the ability to take defeat in my stride. It has also enhanced my character building, thinking power to be logical and to find solutions and solving problems.”
For all her dedication to sports, it was sad that she was not honoured with the Sportswoman of the Year award despite being nominated by the Malaysian Women’s Hockey Federation as their nominee for the award in 1965, 1977 and 1978.
But she finally and duly recognised when the Olympic Council of Malaysia inducted her into their Hall of Fame last year and the Malaysian Hockey Federation had named her among hockey legends of the country a few years earlier.
Daphne is still giving back to the sports, as on Sundays she trains four boys from the age of seven to ten in badminton.
“I play badminton on Sunday and saw these boys come to the courts regularly and were passionate about the sport. I offered to coach them and they took up the offer,” said Daphne who is also an advance qualified hockey coach and had coached the national Under-21 team in 1979.
Those who know Daphne will associate her with her Vespa which used for 20 years. Seeing Daphne coming to training rain or shine with her ever faithful Vespa was a familiar sight.
“I made a grave mistake when I sold it after I retired and was working with a Japanese company who nominated me three years in a row as the ‘Best Employee’. On the third year, they gave me a locally assembled motorcycle.
“I sold the Vespa and after two years of using the motorcycle, it was giving me too much problem and I sold it. I now walk or take the bus.”
Asked why she does not want to get another Vespa, she said: “I cannot afford it with my pension.”