MANY people only know that Dr Sun Yat Sen was married to Soong Ching Ling but he actually first married Lu Muzhen when he was 19.
He also had a companion throughout the revolution — Chen Sui Feng.
Victor Bit-Shing Sun, who is the great-grandson of Sun Mei, Dr Sun’s eldest brother, said even though Chen was never married to Dr Sun, she was considered his wife.
“Chen, who is also my grandmother, had lived in Penang for a considerable time. She was born in Hong Kong of Fujian parents.
“She met Dr Sun when she was 18 and their common ideals created a bond between them for a period of time.
“For more than 15 years, she accompanied Dr Sun through his exile in Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore,” he said during the international symposium on ‘Sun Yat Sen, Soong Ching Ling — Their Life and Legacy’ with special focus on the 1910 Penang Conference at Wawasan Open University (WOU) in Penang. Victor said Chen not only took care of Dr Sun daily, she also took part in dangerous missions including smuggling firearms into Guangzhou, delivering important messages, washing clothes and cooking for all revolutionaries close to him.
“She was well liked among the revolutionaries.
“I should call her great-grandaunt in the family but I had always called her Ah Tai (grandmother) since childhood,” he said.
After the founding of the republic, Victor said Chen returned to Malaysia at the request of Sun Mei and adopted a baby girl in Ipoh and gave her the name of Sun Zhong Ying.
“Zhong Ying was my mother. In 1931, my grand uncle Sun Fo (Dr Sun’s only son) invited them back to live in Guangzhou. There, my father met my mother and they soon fell in love.
“But my father was sent to Italy to the military academy and my mother was sent to Hawaii to attend university. They decided to get married anyway in Italy in 1937 and my mother (Sun Zhong Ying) had to change her name back to So Zong Ying and Chen then became my grandmother,” he said.
In 1962, Chen passed away in Hong Kong and before she died, Victor said she handed him a ring from her finger along with a gold watch which was given to her by Dr Sun as a memento.
“The watch was a gift from Dr Sun’s mentor Prof James Cantline when the former was released from house arrest in London,” he said.
Recalling fond memories, Victor said Chen spent all her time taking care of him and his siblings while his parents were busy.
“Grandma Ah Tai always told us stories about the older generation of overseas Chinese revolutionaries. The heroic deeds by these revolutionaries will always be a shining example.
“Their love for China and their total devotion will always be the guiding light for the Sun family for generations,” he said.
Victor is currently penning a biography of Sun Mei.