Just got back from my usual 15 kilometer walk. The usual quiet of Tudor was disrupted by a diesel powered tractor. There was also a rumble or what sounded like an empty steel barrel, rolling on the hard but worn out, stony surface of the roads (streets). It was… sort of. It was a mid-sized steam roller (1); crushing, flattening and leveling freshly tarred (2) (3) stones.

Tudor was having a makeover. Its streets and the driveways of houses are currently being re-surfaced. The heavy machinery (road surfacing equipment) that came into our area two weeks ago, giving us hope that work would start then. But they vanished a couple of days later after they resurfaced USJ4/3 street. After watching the movie “Terminator”; these workers have come with a theme “WE’LL BE BACK!” And so they are.


Piano playing softly… accompanying the clarinet. The music: a very light, gentle sort of fusion jazz background music coming through over the Google Home Mini, with its volume at level 2 or 3.

Google Home Mini. The Verge

The two new lightly, gold-ish /bronze -silver Panasonic ceiling fans were swirling (more like chopping – a mini version of a helicopter rotor blades) the air around to keep the room cool. It rained a heavy drizzle earlier on in the evening which helped bring down the temperature to a cooler notch. But it was still rather humid.

I started working on the follow-up to my story “Chen Cuifen – Captivating!” with the hopes of learning more about her, her likes, family… just about everything.

Chen Cuifen

The fourth oldest in her family, Chen Cuifen was born into poverty. She was attractive, sweet and had a good figure. She was said to be simple, honest and treat others with kindness. Chen Cuifen met Sun Yat-sen in 1892.

Sun Yat-sen became China’s first provisional president. Though not officially recognised by Sun; his family revered Cuifen with respect.

Cuifen was guard and nurse to Sun Yat-sen. It states in this article, She accompanied Sun Yat-sen everywhere, though frightened. (4) The writer who wrote this said that “she was displaced and frightened. She followed Sun everywhere even if her name is not right”, implying that she was his mistress or “concubine”. Yet in some articles written by others, she was said to be his second wife.


Based on an article by, it describes Chen Cuifen as Sun’s concubine. Lu Mushen was Sun’s first wife. She could not accompany Sun on running of the revolution due to her wife, mother and daughter roles and duties. She spent her time teaching their children and looking after her parents. Thus, not being able to be the revolutionary’s sidekick. That’s where Cuifen comes in.

According to this article it said just that -“Ms Chen Cuifen just made up for this shortcoming”. She was by his side all the time, taking care of his daily life, passing on information, and making contributions to the cause of the revolution.

Sun Yat-sen had four wives. Is he a "scumbag"?
Sun Yat-sen with Chen Chuifen in the middle.

She was inspired by Sun Yat-sen’s ideals of revolution. All articles about her involvement in the revolution point to this fact.(5)

All the men, including foreign revolutionaries that Sun worked with; respected Cuifen as a major contributor towards the cause of the revolution. The Japanese samurai, Miyazaki Tokura who followed Sun once said, “The Chinese comrade who takes care of Mr Sun’s daily life is really a heroine. She uses long chopsticks and has big eyes, like a man eating. Only in this way women of revolutionaries take on major issues”.


Cuifen’s birth name was Xiangling. She was also known as Ruifen. She was affectionately called sigu (fourth aunt) by comrades of the revolution. Cuifen risked her life and did all she could to support Sun’s career.

Cuifen lived at the Changchun Pu villa, which is behind today’s famous Aun Tong coffee mill in Taiping, Perak. (6) According to this writer, there were some newspaper clippings on the wall next to Cuifen’s portrait. These newspaper clippings stated that Cuifen travelled alone to Malaya in 1914 after breaking up with Sun. She stayed at Changchun Pu villa for many years. It was during that time that she adopted a daughter.

In 1931, Cuifen returned to Hong Kong with her adopted daughter, Sun Zhongying, and later moved to Guangzhou upon Sun Fo’s (Sun Yat-sen’s son’s request).

According to her grandson, when the anti-Japanese war broke out; Cuifen took part in the battle against Japan.

Chen Cuifen was not recognised officially. History does not remember her name, and her relation with Sun was never made public.

Sun Zhongying’s son, Sun Bisheng; reported that Chen Cuifen’s name has been added into the Sun genealogy as Sun Yat-sen’s concubine. Sun Busheng once told the media that Cuifen passed away in his embrace on October 21st, 1962. As she lay dying, she passed him a gold ring and a pocket watch, the two items that she had most treasured throughout her life. The pocket watch had SunYat-sen’s English name engraved on it and was the only keepsake he gave her. She finally let him go and breathed her last. (Chia)(8)

This article also states that Cuifen died in 1960. Her body was later buried in the tomb of the Sun family. On her deathbed, what matter most to Chen Cuifen, Sun Yat-sen’s partner was a gold ring and a pocket watch, engraved with Sun’s English name. (7)

I am not sure if I am clouded by the mysteries about Chen Cuifen. I think I have managed to capture what Chen Cuifen would have wanted me to share with the world about her to some extent. She came from humble beginnings. She was kind. She was honest. She was loyal.

I have not managed to find that “secret passage” of her life, the untold chapters. Most of the articles about her were written by Chinese authors in their native language. The information from the internet would have been translated to English from Chinese. In those passages of translation; there could be some misinterpretation and loss of the essence of its meanings. Some information differs (like when she died) between the articles from different writers.

I am sure there are many more good untold stories of Chen Cuifen. I am happy that I know a little more of her.


  1. A steam or road roller is a compactor-type engineering vehicle used to compact soil, gravel, concrete or asphalt in the construction of roads and foundations.
  2. What are tarred roads made of? asphalt, black or brown petroleum-like material that has a consistency varying from viscous liquid to glassy solid. It is obtained either as a residue from the distillation of petroleum or from natural deposits. Asphalt consists of compounds of hydrogen and carbon with minor proportions of nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen.
    asphalt | Components, Development, Properties, & Facts | Britannica › science › asphalt-materi
  3. Why is tar used for roads? The chip seal treatment is a cost efficient method of pavement preservation that helps prevent water from seeping into and softening the base of the road. … The tar-like substance is actually an emulsion of water and liquid asphalt which penetrates and seals small cracks in the existing pavement
  4. Chen Cuifen was born into poverty. She was “handsome and well-built”. She met with Sun Yat-sen, who was China’s first provisional president in 1892. She was a female guard and nurse to Sun Yat-sen. It states in this article, “She is willing to accompany Mr Sun all the time, even if she is displaced and frightened, “even if her name is not right”.
  5. I have said many times in the past that I will not write about politics. I will leave the writings about politics for others to do so. Here, in this essay; I am relating parts of history – the angle which I am writing from.
  6. Taiping, Perak in Malaysia.
  8. Chia Yei Yei, Senior Correspondent, Lianhe Zaobao;


Portrait of Chen Cuifen in Changchun Pu villa. The original oil painting was by Chen Chudian. (SPH) (1)

As I penned down the last few words of my article, “Taiping – Town of Heavenly Peace” (2); I could not help but feel that essay was to a certain extent, incomplete. There I was, trying to figure out what was incomplete about it but could not seem to quite put my finger on it.

Our trip (Jeannie’s & mine) to Taiping was unplanned; so we did not have any expectations. Yet, when I wrote the article about Taiping and thought I had covered all or mostly all that I “trip-experienced”; I felt that I had to write something more about something relating to the trip. What was it?

I re-read my essay several times again (as I had read the article several times before it was published. And even after that). Until I saw “that” picture again; the one behind me in one of the photos I snapped (can’t use the word “took” which could insinuate I took one of the pictures from the museum 😅) while at the museum. (pic 2)

When I first saw the picture of this lady on the wall in that little museum at the Aun Tong coffee mill in Assam Kumbang; I was captivated by her beauty.

The word “assam” is a Malay word that means “sour”. It seems to be commonly used in names of areas in Taiping. “Pokok Assam” and “Assam Kumbang” are two that I am now quite familiar with. “Pokok Assam” in Malay means “Tamarind tree”. “Assam Kumbang” in Malay means “Tamarind beetle”. So, that explains why the char kuey teow I had for dinner that evening in Taiping; was not the “famous Penang char kuey teow ” or the “famous Ipoh char kuey teow” but the unique Taiping style char kuey teow. Its taste had that slight hint of lime added to it while it was being “char” or fried.

I walked away from this picture to look at the artifacts and other things considered museum pieces, but I kept coming back to this picture hung up on the wall. From whichever angle or distance I was from it; she kept looking directly at me. Unlike the very olden days style of portrait photos, where the people looked over-serious and dreary; this picture of Chen Cuifen shows her with a slight smile and relaxed.

Though staring at it a bit longer makes me think she was a Chinese martials art warrior, with lots of kicks-in-the-air fights. This must be from watching too many Chinese martial arts movies. Influence from Jeannie. During our courting days; I became an expert “movie sub-titles reader”. We used to go for Chinese romantic and martials arts movies. Hang on, did I say, “romantic”? Oh yeah. I did not know what the movies were about before we watched them. I was a good boyfriend. Jeannie would ask, “Shall we go for a movie?”. I would always say, “yes” without knowing what the movie was about until I was in the cinema, with the movie on. Hands on learning. I couldn’t understand Mandarin nor Cantonese nor Hokkien. I just read the sub-titles. Oooohhh, that is what this movie was about. Now, married – kao tim lah. (4) No need to go anymore.

While everything else in this museum was old or presumed old; the person in this picture was young, refreshing and didn’t seem to belong there.

Besides the room being small and filled with lots of things of the past, it looks like it is now being used as an office too; with three work tables strewn with current day documents. The chairs are those ancient-type Chinese barrel-shaped stools, with carvings on them.

From the coffee mill’s showroom / shop; there is a short flight of about 5 fairly high steps of an old-style staircase, leading to this museum. Shoes / sandals have to be removed to enter the museum. This museum is what I believe was Cuifen’s villa. The coffee mill is at the back of the villa.

Pic 2. Chen Cuifen’s portrait hangs on the wall behind.

Chen Cuifen’s “Changchun Pu” villa, Ng (3) This is the front of the villa , with the coffee mill at the side of it in the rear.

The villa

The Changchun Pu villa, looks washed out by the passage of time. A fan-shaped wooden plaque with the inscription Changchun Pu (长春圃) hangs on the building’s external wall, and a signboard with the words Aun Tong (安东) is prominently displayed above the door to the villa. Not far from the door stands a statue of Sun Yat-sen. (7)

The entrance of the Aun Tong Coffee Mill displaying the “Aun Tong” signboard and fan-shaped Changchun Pu wooden sign. (SPH)
The entrance of the Aun Tong Coffee Mill displaying the “Aun Tong” signboard and fan-shaped Changchun Pu wooden sign. (SPH)

Before that day, I never heard of Chen Cuifen. As I started researching about her, I noted that not much was said about her. The little that was written about her had conflicting information.

Wikipedia says that Sun Yat-sen’s first concubine was the Hong Kong-born Chen Cuifen. (8) Other websites stated that she was Sun’s partner and one of his four wives.

She was regarded as the “forgotten revolutionary female”. Maybe that is why I had this “prompting” to write something about her.

She was “the first revolution partner” of Sun Yat-sen. Before marrying Soong Ching-ling, Sun Yat-sen had a 20 year-relationship with Chen Cuifen. Before I forget, Sun Yat-sen was the Republic of China’s first provisional President.

Wikipedia says that she lived in Taiping, PerakMalaysia for 17 years. Sun and her adopted a local girl as their daughter. (9) That is interesting. It means her adopted daughter is Malayan (Malaysian). Is she still alive? Does she have children and grand-children?

Wikipedia states that Cuifen subsequently relocated to China, where she died. Other sources on the internet states that she returned to Hong Kong where she died. Conflicting information again on the year she died. 1960 or 1962?

Am I the first Malaysian to write about Chen Cui-fen? I don’t know. As I ask questions, the answers I get leads me to more questions. Like what is her connection with Aun Tong coffee mill?

I would like to revisit this article again in the near future and perhaps, expand on it with an indepth research (hopefully) on the life of this lady whose picture hangs in a room on the wall; the room next to a coffee mill.


  1. Chia Yei Yei, (Senior Correspondent, Lianhe Zaobao); “Sun Yat-sen’s lover Cuifen and her Malaysia villa”, October 16th, 2019
  3. Alchetron,
  4. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Richard Ng, Chen Cuifen’s Villa, Eat & Sleep, November 15th, 2010.
  5. ‘Kao tim lah’ is a colloquial term meaning “done, finished, settled” in Cantonese. It also is a way of expressing agreement. It is best uttered with an air of smugness and satisfaction in the finality of the matter. Just like when we have chosen the right place to dine at.
  6. “Lah” is a mysterious word. As Urban Dictionary defines: “a slang used mainly by people of South-East Asia (Malaysia and Singapore mainly) to complement almost any sentence available in a social conversation. The origins of this slang is basically from the chinese language, yet it is now used by almost anyone in the two countries mentioned above who aren’t too shy to let their asian roots shine with pride. People who don’t use the -lah slang are considered snobs to a certain degree.” For example, here’s a mundane conversation you would hear when it comes to meal times. “Hey, where shall we have lunch today?” I don’t know lah. What do you feel like?” Hmm, I was thinking of curry. “Kau tim lah, Let’s go try that new banana leaf rice!” Kau tim?
  7. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Richard Ng, Chen Cuifen’s Villa, Eat & Sleep, November 15th, 2010.
  8. Wikipedia
  9. Wikipedia
Chen Cuifen - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia
Chen Cuifen (3)