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The Pretty Communist, and a Hollywood Star

What could possibly connect Hollywood movie star George Sanders with the Malayan Emergency and the communist government of Hungary? On 24 July, 1952 Special Branch officers raided a house in the Lahat Road in Ipoh and arrested two women. They were held in custody and ‘rigorously interrogated’. One of the women Cheow Yin ‘committed suicide’ in her cell. The other twenty four year old Lee Ten Tai, known as Lee Meng (photographed here in 2007) was eventually charged with possession of a pistol and a grenade and consorting with persons armed with weapons and ammunition. Under Emergency regulations, these charges all carried the death penalty. The assessor system in Perak, where Lee Meng was arrested, provided for her trial by a European judge assisted by two assessors. There was, of course, no jury. The judge had to agree with only one other person to convict and sentence a prisoner to death. Lee Meng faced her accusers in style. She was, according to the leering journalists in court, exceedingly pretty and her navy blue slacks and checked blouse showed off her prison diminished frame. The Straits Times headline declared: Pretty Girl Gave Murder Orders! (The same edition lamented the fall in […]
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