Friday, January 21, 2011

"R" for Rain & Romantic Song

Outside, it's raining cats and dogs. It's a cool time to share with you some cybersurfing tales. In this case, I decided to look up a 1951 old hit of Frankie Laine, "Rose, Rose I love You" and yes, listening to it, I was curious about the girl he was singing about ... Was this"Flower o f Malaya" real? What was her actual profession?

Before answering these questions, take note that in the Youtube video, Rose, as a chinese would not be dressed in a kimono like a Japanese girl. She would highly likely wear a cheongsum, a tight Chinese ladies' dress that is still worn often during auspicious occasions such as Chinese New Year, birthdays and so forth these days in Malaya (Malaysia). The trishaw was just right in the 1950s but the steamer would have been a passenger liner rather than the tanker that was depicted.

Here's what I found out, much to my astonishment... and amusement... There was a stripper and spy (?), Rose Chan Wai Cheng in Communist--terrorised old Malaya in the 1950s. She was a very attractive Chinese girl with legions of fans and yes, this Flower of Malaya was known to Frankie Laine and they had an affair. Surprisingly, she refused to accompany Frankie back to the States. Sadly, she died of cancer later. How could stripping be allowed in a Muslim-dominated country? Well, it all points to the fact that the Malaysian constitution was intended to be liberal, secular-based and all races would be multi-racial and multi-cultural as the founding father and first pime minister Tunku (Prince) Abdul Rahman promised and assured. As it is, many present day leaders of today tend to push their own religious agendas and impose their own interpretations.

A bit more news about Rose in Malaysia's Star paper:

Unforgettable Rose Chan


Dead but certainly not forgottten. The final resting place of Rose Chan at the Beow Hong Lim Columbarium in Air Itam, Penang draws the occasional visitor, more so during Qing Ming, though no one knows if fans or loved ones came to pay their respects. Sunday Star revisits the legend of the striptease on this special news focus.

ROSE Chan’s last public appearance drew both crowd and controversy, even though it was just a series of photo exhibitions and the striptease queen was dying of breast cancer.

The lingering mix of curiosity and fascination continues to draw the occasional visitor to her final resting place at the Beow Hong Lim Columbarium, despite it being nearly 20 years since her death.

The Rose Chan exhibitions were held in 1986 at Komtar and the Sungai Nibong pesta site in Penang and the Sungai Wang Plaza in Kuala Lumpur.

Peter Soon, who organised the exhibitions, remembered the huge crowds that turned up, especially at the Kuala Lumpur venue.

Recalling events that led to the exhibitions, the former jeweller said: “Rose Chan was known for being charitable but towards her final days she had no money. She asked me to help sell her jewellery.

“So I suggested the exhibitions to raise funds for her medical treatment,” said Soon, 48, who knew the strip artiste through her love for jewellery.

The exhibitions, featuring revealing photos of Rose Chan in her element, raised RM25,000 through the RM5 entrance fee collection.

“Although weak from the chemotherapy treatments, she turned up at the Komtar exhibition, wearing a wig and accompanied by her young daughter,” said Soon, who owns the Pinang Peranakan Museum (of Nyonya-Baba and mixed heritage).

Antique collector Michael Cheah, who helped to run the exhibitions, remembered that the front part of the exhibition featured peranakan antiques while the back portion displayed the photos of Rose Chan.

“But many people who came were not interested in the antiques. They asked straight away for Rose Chan. Some were disappointed there were no striptease shows,” he said, recalling that he had to cut out paper stars to stick over the stripper's breasts following complaints from the public.

Penang Development Corporation property division assistant manager Chew See Jan said due to Rose Chan’s controversial reputation, the PDC, which owns the Komtar shop lots, had to advise the organiser to cut short the exhibition.

Retired history lecturer Dr Leong Yee Fong, 65, said the social transition from colonial rule to independence had allowed striptease entertainment to thrive in the 1950s and 1960s.

The former Universiti Sains Malaysia lecturer, who had seen Rose Chan peeling off her dress “piece by piece” at the New World amusement park in his younger days, said she was a legend in her own time for being not just a good dancer but skilled in her exotic stunts.

“Rose Chan made stripping an art form,” said Dr Leong.

- The Star -

Here is what our Frankie is singing about:

Rose, Rose I love you with an aching heart.
What is your future, now we have to part?
Standing on the jetty as the steamer moves away,
Flower of Malaya, I cannot stay.

Make way, oh, make way for my Eastern Rose.
Men crowd in dozens everywhere she goes.
In her rickshaw on the street or in a cabaret,
"Please make way for Rose," you can hear them say.

All my life I shall remember,
Oriental music and you in my arms.
Perfumed flowers in your tresses,
Lotus-scented breezes and swaying palms.

Rose, Rose I love you with your almond eyes.
Fragrant and slender 'neath tropical skies.
I must cross the seas again and never see you more.
Way back to my home on a distant shore.

(All my life I shall remember,)
(Oriental music and you in my arms.)
(Perfumed flowers in your tresses,)
(Lotus-scented breezes and swaying palms.)

Rose, Rose I leave you, my ship is in the bay.
Kiss me farewell now, there's nothin' to say.
East is East and West is West, our worlds are far apart.
I must leave you now but I leave my heart.

Rose, Rose I love you with an aching heart.
What is your future, now we have to part?
Standing on the jetty as the steamer moves away,
Flower of Malaya, I cannot stay.

(Rose, Rose I love you, I cannot stay.)

If you would like to read more about the Flower of Malaya and see this beautiful woman, follow this link:

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