MCO far easier to comply with, says Malaysia Japanese Occupation survivor
By Essa Abu Yamin New Straits Timess Tue, April 14, 2020
Wook Esah cutting up tapioca skin at her home in Batu Pahat on Sunday. — Pix: NSTP/ ESSA ABU YAMIN
BATU PAHAT, Malaysia: Decades ago, the people in this country were placed on an emergency lockdown during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya from 1941 to 1945.
Although many Malaysians nowadays have no memory of this incident, Wook Esah, 87, remembers it like it was yesterday.
The part she could not forget, Wook said, was the limited choices of food and the hardship she had to endure during the period.
Now that the country had been placed under the Movement Control Order (MCO), she began teaching her children and grandchildren to make full use of “kampung” vegetables.
“We had kampung vegetables every day back in the 1940s during the Japanese Occupation. I am sure many know that we can make chips with tapioca, or that it can also be boiled. But what many may not realise is that the tapioca skin can be eaten too.
“During the Japanese Occupation, we would never throw away the tapioca skin as that was one of our main ingredients.”
Aside from tapioca skin, Wook said she used young papaya in her cooking, turning it into a main dish for the family.
Wook said she had been using the time during the MCO to plant vegetables and fruits on a piece of land nearby with her family.
“During the (Japanese) invasion, we could see our enemies. But now, the enemy is invisible. This is much more dangerous.
“Nevertheless, this MCO is not difficult to follow because we can still go out to buy food and do other things compared with the Japanese Occupation period where we weren’t given any choice or option.
“Since we are required to stay at home, we should really use this time to reconnect and spend quality time with our family members,” she said.