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  • My mum will be 80 this year. She often starts her sentence with, 'During the Japanese Occupation, .......'

    For my mum, it summarises life Before and After.

    As a child, learning about the Second World War in Malaysia was almost all about the Japanese Occupation in Asia.

    We also learnt about the Jews, the concentration camps, but the focus seemed to zoom on Japan and its atrocity in China and Southeast Asia.

    More than 20 years later, I work in a school in England and have a chance to learn more about the First and Second World Wars again. It is eye-opening to me.

    It amazed me that the focus is about the West. The focus switched to the Nazis and Jews, unsurprisingly. Asia is largely forgotten.

    Western students are very lucky. They not only read about the war. They get to watch film footage and news extracts. They visit museums. They read about Anne Frank's diary. They read about the Jews' culture and their sufferings. They would also pack their bags and visit trenches in France, Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland and Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

    These are the chances that most kids in Asia don't have.

    Years after learning about the war, I became fascinated by the Japanese culture, like most young oriental people are today. I learnt to speak Japanese and write with its 3 scripts, and I've become obsessive with the Japanese paper folding art, origami. I collected exquisite Japanese origami papers and transform them into wonders.

    Unbelievably, my best friend is a Japanese called Kayoko. We met in London 15 years ago when learning English. Though Kayoko has moved to Italy, we still meet once a year in London.

    We both know that our friendship is precious, which has transcended the past.
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