Book on historical facts and songs related to various Chinese dialects

AFTER two years of sharing Chinese dialects over the airwaves, Ai FM deejay Chong Keat Aun is now reaching out through text and photos.

His journey of hunting the vocal heritage within our shores — folk songs, ballads, opera and the like in Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow and Teochew — were detail­ed in a 172-paged Chinese book titled Xiang Yin Kao Gu (Exploring the Native Tongues).

The book shines the spotlight again on some forgotten folk artistes, who share their experiences in staging traditional performances.

It also records personal thoughts of ordinary folk, who were happy to share history related to their mother tongues and treasured memories.

The book also comes with a 25-track CD featuring narration of historical facts related to Chinese dialects.

Hoping to alter the perception that all traditional tunes are old-fashioned and irrelevant, several tracks also feature folk tunes with a modern twist.

Chong, 32, launched the book with a special performance at the Chan She Shu Yuen Clan Association in Kuala Lumpur recently.

During the two-hour performance, the enchanting courtyard of the 102-year-old building resonated with Hakka Shan Ge (mountain song), Hainan Qiong Ju (opera), Hokkien Nan Yin (classical music) and Yue Ju (Cantonese opera).

The crowd, a mix of young and old, was particularly responsive when Amy Mah and Mai Ying performed a comical Hainanese opera.

Hew Wei Choong also received thunderous applause after belting out a flawless Hakka mountain song.

Ng Chor Guan impressed the audience by controlling a theremin, an electronic musical instrument that produces sound without any physical contact from the player.

Chong said the book was all about preserving an important part of the Malaysian Chinese history and traditions.

“The older generation left their homeland in search of a better life in Malaya, and we can learn more about their stories through vocal heritage,” he said.

His mission was to preserve these voices.

“I want to create a platform for the folk artistes to perform,” he said.

Chong’s next roadshow will be in Sarawak on June 26 and 27.

The book is priced at RM35 each and is available for sale at

Chong’s radio show on the native tongues is aired every Thursday at 9pm.

For details, visit

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