CHAOS AT LUBOK BELAGA describes an episode in the life of my father, Michael Lim Beng Huat (1922 – 1985). The book was published in 1977 by the then existing Borneo Literature Bureau which strove to encourage Sarawak and Sabah’s literary talents and preserve the two Bornean States’ unique literary heritage.
Born in Kuching as the eighth son of a family of nine sons and four daughters during the twilight rule of Vyner Brooke, the third Rajah of Sarawak (visit Wikipedia for The Three White Rajahs of Sarawak), he was educated at St. Thomas’ School, an Anglican missionary school in Kuching. He wanted to be a doctor, like his father Lim Swee Kim, who was drowned in a tragic fishing excursion when he was hardly two years old (visit Dianne Lim’s Tribute to Lim Swee Kim). The invading Japanese put paid to his ambition, and he trained under them as a Dresser at the Kuching General Hospital. He was barely out of his teens when he was posted to Belaga in 1942.
After the war, father was posted to several outstation clinics before returning to Kuching with his young family where he took up a post as medical assistant to the western doctors at the Kuching General Hospital. There, doctors and surgeons from Great Britain trained him to be a highly competent anaesthetist and radiographer. He diagnosed a cracked bone that a doctor had overlooked, and they were so impressed by his intelligence and ability that they placed full trust in his diagnosis of X-rays. He was given the responsibility of stitching up the patient when the surgeon had completed the operation. He was also entrusted with training subsequent anaesthetists. In 1956, father was awarded a scholarship to Bristol, Great Britain, to formally extend his training as a radiographer. He rose to be Chief Radiographer for the State of Sarawak.
Below is Lim Beng Huat’s compassionate autobiographical and historical account of the last years of the Japanese Occupation, deep in the heart of Sarawak’s rain forest, among the people he loved best.
- Margaret Lim