It Was An Epidemic

Most of us are familiar with the Battle of Red Cliff in the Three Kingdoms. However, the popular version of that battle, written by Luo Guan Zhong, is mostly fictional.

In Luo’s story, Cao Cao was said to have chained his boats together to prevent them for rocking, causing motion sickness in his troops. In fact, Cao’s soldiers were not sick from sailing but from an epidemic.

Cao Cao decided to abort the invasion of Dongwu and withdraw. He had been advised to abandon the boats – which was a brilliant idea even before epidemics were known to be caused by human-human transmission. Not wanting Zhou Yu to pick up his boats for free, Cao Cao set fire to them himself before withdrawing to Jingzhou overland.

In most movies and operas, Cao Cao is portrayed as a ruthless tyrant. The real Cao Cao is a bit more complex than that. At least he cared enough for his soldiers not to fight during an epidemic; even if it meant sacrificing 1000 boats.

The Three Kingdoms I’ve presented in my books is based on the popular (fictional) version. I’ll soon start work on a couple of new titles based on selected episodes presented from a historical perspective. In other words, Three Kingdoms minus the fake news. For centuries, the fictional version has been more popular. Let’s see if my style of presenting the truth can give engaging fiction a run for its money when I present it in English.

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.


I knew that the name 钟添飞 sounded familiar. When I heard this song, I suddenly remembered that he’s xinyao singer 钟添飞. I first heard this song when I was a student at NUS. Hearing it again brought back so many memories. 钟添飞 is better known as Jeffrey Chung now and he currently runs a modelling agency.

沉默 is a very simple love song. It’s the sort of uncomplicated struggle we went through when boys and girls of that era were so shy. Below are some recordings of 钟添飞’s appearance on Channel 8’s 缤纷八三 in 1986. 34 years ago, OMG! How many of you remember that show?

The xinyao era has been a most unforgettable part of Singapore’s history. Back then, the young people had artistic, meaningful dreams and ideals, not ambitions to own business empires. I too have been inspired to write, reviving my childhood dream if becoming a writer.

This video below has alternating old and new photos. Jeffrey’s transformation, like many of us from that era, has been great. The message is clear. Don’t miss out on chasing your dreams when you’re young. You’re only young once.

Looking back, I wish I had recorded an album when I was that age.

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

Causeway Bay Books

The forced disappearance of the five shareholders from Mighty Current Publishing and Causeway Bay Books formed a complete picture in December 2015 when Lee Po, its owner, was seen boarding a van at his Mighty Current publishing office in Chai Wan at around 6pm. He was then taken across the border without any official record of his departure.

The incident raised fears for the city’s autonomy and concerns over the potential loss of freedoms. There was supposed to be a notification mechanism, whereby Hong Kong and the mainland authorities were obliged to notify each other if a resident of one is detained by the other. Mainland authorities had broken all the rules right under the noses of Hong Kongers who were still holding back until the Extradition Bill in 2019 dropped the last straw.

Lee’s disappearance joined the dots for a planned crackdown on writers and publishers critical of mainland politicians. Hong Kong realised that Lee, a HK-born British national, was in fact the last of five bookstore associates to go missing. The first was Gui Minhai 桂敏海 (alias Ah Hai), co-founder of Mighty Current Publishing. As an author and publisher, he had written extensively on Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang and Xi Jinping. Born in China, Gui was already a Swedish national by then.

Gui’s disappearance from his home in the Thai resort of Pattaya in October 2015 was a mystery at first. People following the news only managed to join the dots and see the connection after Lee’s abduction. Hong Kongers realised that it was an audacious extrajudicial abduction, apparently ignoring Thailand’s sovereignty. There was likewise no official record of his departure. This caused great concern for many Hong Kongers who realised that even people residing in Thailand were not safe, let alone those living in Hong Kong. Less than four years down the road, the implications of the Extradition Bill became horribly clear.

One of the shareholders, Lam Wing Kee 林榮基 was released 8 months after detention in the mainland. His “crime” was stated as illegal sale of books 违法经营书籍销售. Sales of books at Causeway Bay Books plunged 70%. Potential customers were afraid of being abducted for purchasing books from Lee. Their fears were not unfounded. Back in Hong Kong, Lam was released on condition that he would bring back the store’s computer to them and reveal his customers’ personal information. He took the store’s computer and just before he left for Shenzhen, he called his teacher. His teacher told him “我们不是生下来就被人打败的.” Lam’s conscience got the better of him. He turned back from the railway station, insisting on protecting his customers’ confidentiality and made plans to leave Hong Kong before he got abducted again. Below is an enactment.

After release, owner Lee Poh declared that he just wanted to lead a “normal life” and the store was forced to close down. All books in the shop were sent to Shenzhen where they were burned. Undeterred, shareholder Lam Wing Kee moved to Taiwan when a sponsor promised to support him. Not surprisingly, his sponsor was threatened and backed out. Lam then resorted to crowdfunding, raising NTD 6,000,000 in just one day. raised funds from crowdfunding and set up a new Causeway Bay Books over there. At the grand opening, Tiananmen massacre survivor Wang Dan presented Lam with the words “freedom” 自由.

But it was not all smooth sailing even in Taiwan. Lam had been splashed with red paint by unidentified men at a cafe before his store’s opening. It was a warning from agents working for the mainland. This time, however, Taiwanese police sprang into action and arrested three people.

Although Gui 桂敏海 was released from detention in October 2017, he was once again abducted by suspected state security agents – a group of men in plain clothes – in January 2018 while on his way to Beijing for a medical visit. Swedish authorities called for his release.

Shortly afterwards, while under detention for breaking “unspecified laws”, he once again “confessed” on the mainland’s national TV, denouncing Swedish politicians for instigating him to leave the country and for “using me as chess piece”. Gui was then sentenced in February 2020 to 10 years’ imprisonment for “illegally providing intelligence overseas”. Gui was punished most severely probably because he actually authored some of the books sold at Causeway Bay Books.

Back to Mr Lam in Taiwan, he seems very optimistic about physical book stores and he has big plans for the future, but as young people read less and less, I’m really not sure about the future of his book store. If something like this is not possible in Singapore, then perhaps in Taiwan.

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

Still Human?

Low budget Hong Kong movie “Still Human” directed by first-time director Olivia Chan, picked up top prizes at the 21st Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy on 3 May 2019. “Still Human” tells a heart-warming story of how a Filipina domestic helper (played by Crisel Consunji) and her disabled employer (Wong) overcome their conflicts and misunderstandings. it was a favourite of both critics and audience.

Director Chan confessed that she first approached a high calibre actor like Anthony Wong simply by sending him an email with her CV and the movie script. She also revealed the source and amount of her funding, hinting that he might not be paid at all. Anthony Wong, being the principled and righteous man that he is, accepted the role as he liked the somewhat “neglected” theme.

I’ve just ordered the DVD and I’ll do a more detailed review after watching. In the meantime, Wikipedia tells us that the plot revolves around a paralyzed and Hong Kong man living alone who meets his new Filipino domestic worker. In the beginning, he is suspicious that she might take advantage of him while she dreads looking after him.

Bogged down by financial difficulties, the Filipina puts her dream of being a photographer on hold and travels to Hong Kong to earn a living. The two strangers live under the same roof through different seasons, and as they learn more about each other, they also learn more about themselves. Together, they learn to manage the different seasons/stages of life.

However, the film’s lead actor Anthony Wong, who was also the recipient of the festival’s Golden Mulberry award for outstanding achievement and winner of the Hong Kong Film Awards best actor in April for his role as a disabled man in the movie, the success of “Still Human” has yet to bring him more film work. This is obviously attributed to Wong’s political views. He is a consistent and persistent support for Hong Kong’s democracy movement may have put him on some list of banned actors imposed by filmmakers who feared offending the leaders in Beijing. Not only does he have no filming opportunities on the mainland, he is also shunned by most Hong Kong filmmakers.

True to his vocal and dignified personality, Wong insists that he does not regret any of his political comments. Neither does he feel ashamed of the exploitative category 3 movies he starred in during his younger days because he had a wife, two sons and a wheelchair bound mother to support.

He is currently planning to move to Taiwan. Hong Kong is likely to lose another great actor. Famous Hong Kong actor Gill Mohindepaul Singh 乔宝宝 left for Scotland after he failed to obtain citizenship for his wife Gurinder Kaur Gill. The situation in Hong Kong now reminds me of Singapore where people only people who can be enticed with riches or threatened with unfair treatment will thrive.

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

The Pyjamas Singer 姜梓新

Her name is 姜梓新, hailing from Nanjing and born on 11 March 1996. She was first discovered in a reality TV show. She struck audiences as natural and unpretentious. Apart from singing, she has also played major roles in Chinese period dramas.

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

Charming Flutist

These sounds and images can transport you to the imaginary world of ancient China in its most prosperous, carefree and romantic era. In the last video, our Vietnamese flutist plays Adam Cheng’s signature song 笑看风云。

Bookmark this page and keep coming back for some soothing eye and ear candy.

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

Journey To The West

This is a tongue-in-cheek video by this Wuhan lady (now in Florida) who calls herself “Maoshen”. In this video, she tells us that when she was young, he favourite character in Journey to The West was Monkey King and her least favourite character was Tang Seng. Why? Because he was naive, muddle-headed and punished her favourite character unfairly.

She changed when she has grown up. That’s because she realised that right from the start, Tang Seng had the blessings and support of Bodhisattva Guan Yin. This would mean that whatever natural or demonic threat he would face on his mission, he had a deity protecting him. Why would anyone need to fear under such circumstances?

Could his mission been accomplished in a day instead of 14 years? Sure, but what’s the point? The whole purpose of the journey is to perform a heroic feat for devotees. The performance would lose its impact without the tortuous plot and the drama.

Which brings “Maoshen” to the question, are the demons really out to eat up Tang Seng or tempt him into breaking his vows of celibacy? No, they are probably actors and part of the whole scheme to impress the public.

Of course, Tang Seng does exist in real life. His presence was noted at Nalanda University in India. His journey to the West is real. His companions and the demonic threats he faced were all fictional.

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.


Adam Cheng’s Cantonese song 笑看风云 played on flute. It’s the theme song for a Hong Kong television drama series of the same title. The series was broadcast by TVB in 1994. Starring Adam Cheng, Ekin Cheng, Roger Kwok, Amy Kwok and Adia Chan

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

Bodybuilders Who Die Young

Bodybuilding is actually a very good sport, especially for older fogies who want to prevent sarcopenia. But when you get competitive and want to win at all cost, then it’s a different story. In my second novel Like a Dewdrop, I wrote on the theme of impermanence and how it doesn’t matter to people who just want a moment of glory. There is nothing right or wrong here.
It’s wonderful to be able to decide how we want to live. It’s equally wonderful to be able to decide how we want to die.

It’s up to the individual to make the best use of this life to achieve what he wants from it. It doesn’t matter how long or short his life is. We may be afraid to go the same way, but how do we know, he may have no regrets. To have lived a glorious moment like a dewdrop makes this life worth living, regardless of how long or short it is.

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.

China’s Most Talented Courtesan

There is a Chinese saying that women without talent are naturally virtuous. In the old days, women who were well versed in the arts were mostly courtesans. The people they entertained were scholars and intellectuals unlike these days when prostitutes and their clients are seldom regarded with much respect.

Liu Ru Shi was probably China’s most talented courtesan. Orphaned or abandoned from birth, she was adopted as a minor wife when she was only a child and later sold to a brothel. In the company of educated men, Liu Ru Shi showed off her talent in the arts, earning her much praise and great popularity.

She had several unsuccessful relationships until she married high ranking official Qian Qian Yi who was already in his 50s when she was only a teen. Qian ignored all the public denunciation, proudly and openly marrying the former courtesan.

The couple enjoyed each other’s company, travelling and composing poems together until the Manchus invaded. Defeated, Qian surrendered to the Manchus, but Liu wanted to commit suicide. She was disappointed with her husband and she must have been utterly perplexed. Even a prostitute like her had the spine to refuse surrendering to the invaders, why were so many seemingly respectable people selling themselves out?

The first video contains highlights and excerpts from the movie with the original audio.

Qian returned to the battlefield after his release from prison, but his rebel army was no match for the Qing forces. Qian and Liu’s dream of restoring the Ming Dynasty would end when he died in his 80s. After her husband’s death, Liu was sidelined by his family and she eventually took her own life. The second video is a narration of the movie’s plot.

Dewdrop Books – Fiction and non-fiction with a focus on the colourful and exotic Asian realm. Check out our titles.