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This book is an attempt by the author to leave a legacy to his grandchildren and, inter alia, traces the origin of his family and to give them a taste of the environment and ambience of his life. In other words, there is reminiscence of life in Malaysia in the fifties and the sixties, the formative years of the author.


Message From Pre-Eminent Historian

The writing of biographies is rare in Malaysia today what more autobiographies. The situation was better in the days when British civil servants were present in this country and played an important role in the modernization of the country, already known, though unofficially, as ‘Malaya’, even before 31 Aug. 1957. They in fact contributed significantly to Malaysian historiography. But in more modern times, the British civil servants were not the only people who contributed to the advancement of Malaya. There were numerous local residents to whom the country owed so much. But the younger generation of Malaysians have no clue who they were. They also have no clear idea what the country was like although many can happily shout: “Malaysia Truly Asia”. For instance, they would not know in what way Johor was different from Perak, Selangor was different from Terengganu and Negeri Sembilan different from Pahang.

They would be surprised to know that less than six months after a state of Emergency was declared in the country, Malaya emerged as the world champion in badminton and a few years later, again before Malaya became a nation state, the country made its first appearance in the World Olympics in Melbourne.

Admittedly, Malaya was a very complicated country; what more Malaysia; and even when the history of the nation state is written, it is not easy to comprehend the society. All the more, therefore, the country’s history should be given special importance in schools; and those who have acquired interesting experience in life, like Uncle Yap (Mr. Yap Yok Foo) should be encouraged to enlighten the younger generation. Indeed, biographie and autobiographies related to this country should be read in schools, colleges and universities as well. Otherwise nation building makes no sense.

Teachers too should be encouraged to read such works irrespective of whether they are in the field of humanities or the physical sciences. In fact, there is no reason why those outside the humanities cannot write their own autobiographies. Malaya was already very conscious of the need to develop technology and the sciences by the early 20th century. The British had founded a Medical College in Singapore in 1905 and after World War I, an Agricultural College was built at Serdang. There was also the world famous Rubber Research Institute (R.R.I).

History, incidentally, is nobody’s monopoly. Anyone with sufficient knowledge of the past can put down on paper his memory, experience and thoughts for the enlightenment of the society in which he lives as well as for the information of people elsewhere. Without sufficient knowledge of the past, the present makes no sense.

Uncle Yap should be congratulated for taking the trouble to download his memory of an era not well known to the majority of Malaysians today. His autobiography will no doubt help those who are interested in seeing Malaysia achieve continual progress to adopt the right approach.              

Tan Sri Dr. Khoo Kay Kim
Professor Emeritus of Malaysian History
University of Malaya
May 2016  




  1. Prosper from Birth
  2. A Unifying Tragedy
  3. Collective Punishment of Tanjung Malim
  4. The Assessors System
  5. Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
  6. National Flag & National Anthem
  7. Yang di-Pertuan Agong
  8. Sultan Ibrahim of Johor
  9. Masjid Negara
  10. Rubber, the beginning
  11. Money Money Money
  12. Hash House Harriers - Born in Malaysia
  13. The Causeway
  14. The Mystery of the Disappearing Silk King
  15. Subang Airport
  16. National Monument
  17. Royal Lake Club
  18. Singapore’s Flirtation with Strippers
  19. Swearing by the White Rooster
  20. Sunny Ang, The No Body Murder Trial
  21. Harlem Globetrotters
  22. The First Thomas Cup Triumph
  23. Tontine
  24. Monkey Brain
  25. The James Bond Effect
  26. Night-Soil
  27. Bearded Terror of Kajang
  28. Chap Ji Ki
  29. Durian, King of Fruit
  30. Miscellaneous

Personal Biographical Chapters 

  • Roots 1 – An Immigrant From China
  • Roots 2 – Visiting China
  • Education
  • Working Life
  • Cryptic Crossword Puzzles
  • My Literary Accomplishment
  • My Family
  • Miscellaneous


Fun Facts


  • Do you know that before WWII, the Malayan one dollar (later becoming one ringgit) note was green in colour whereas the $5 was blue? Do you know why the colours were inter-changed?

Malaya one Dollar Note 1941 King George VI malaya_5a




  • How many times did Malaya's first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman shout "Merdeka!" during the proclamation of independence on the morning of 31 August 1957? What was the significance of the number of times?


  • Tuanku Abdul Rahman of Negri Sembilan was actually third in seniority, after Johor and Pahang for the post of Malaya's first Paramount Ruler. Find out how he leapfrogged to become the first Agong and now lives forever as the face on our currency notes.

    First Agong on banknote
  • Who designed the original Malayan flag that later became our Jalur Gemilang?


  • Did you know that Singapore used to allow strippers like Rose Chan to perform?

    18. Rose Chan

The answers to all these intriguing questions and much more can be found in Grandfather Stories.

About The Author

Yap Yok Foo

Annabelle (35)The author, Retired Chartered Accountant Yap Yok Foo has always been a doting grandfather to his grandchildren (from left to right) Annabelle, Matthew and Megan. This is his legacy to them to remember him and his times by - captured by numerous stories of events and things that happened during his lifetime; hence Grandfather Stories.


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