Unforgettable Rose Chan

Source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/4/9/nation/13903531&sec=nation

Sunday April 9, 2006

Unforgettable Rose Chan

Stories by TOMMY LEE, CHOONG KIM KWEE, TAN SIN CHOW AND FLORENCE A. SAMY

Dead but certainly not forgottten. The final resting place of Rose Chan at the Beow Hong Lim Columbarium in Air Itam, Penang draws the occasional visitor, more so during Qing Ming, though no one knows if fans or loved ones came to pay their respects. Sunday Star revisits the legend of the striptease on this special news focus.

ROSE Chans last public appearance drew both crowd and controversy, even though it was just a series of photo exhibitions and the striptease queen was dying of breast cancer.

The lingering mix of curiosity and fascination continues to draw the occasional visitor to her final resting place at the Beow Hong Lim Columbarium, despite it being nearly 20 years since her death.

The Rose Chan exhibitions were held in 1986 at Komtar and the Sungai Nibong pesta site in Penang and the Sungai Wang Plaza in Kuala Lumpur.

Peter Soon, who organised the exhibitions, remembered the huge crowds that turned up, especially at the Kuala Lumpur venue.

Recalling events that led to the exhibitions, the former jeweller said: Rose Chan was known for being charitable but towards her final days she had no money. She asked me to help sell her jewellery.

So I suggested the exhibitions to raise funds for her medical treatment, said Soon, 48, who knew the strip artiste through her love for jewellery.

The exhibitions, featuring revealing photos of Rose Chan in her element, raised RM25,000 through the RM5 entrance fee collection.

Although weak from the chemotherapy treatments, she turned up at the Komtar exhibition, wearing a wig and accompanied by her young daughter, said Soon, who owns the Pinang Peranakan Museum (of Nyonya-Baba and mixed heritage).

Antique collector Michael Cheah, who helped to run the exhibitions, remembered that the front part of the exhibition featured peranakan antiques while the back portion displayed the photos of Rose Chan.

But many people who came were not interested in the antiques. They asked straight away for Rose Chan. Some were disappointed there were no striptease shows, he said, recalling that he had to cut out paper stars to stick over the stripper’s breasts following complaints from the public.

Penang Development Corporation property division assistant manager Chew See Jan said due to Rose Chans controversial reputation, the PDC, which owns the Komtar shop lots, had to advise the organiser to cut short the exhibition.

Retired history lecturer Dr Leong Yee Fong, 65, said the social transition from colonial rule to independence had allowed striptease entertainment to thrive in the 1950s and 1960s.

The former Universiti Sains Malaysia lecturer, who had seen Rose Chan peeling off her dress piece by piece at the New World amusement park in his younger days, said she was a legend in her own time for being not just a good dancer but skilled in her exotic stunts.

Rose Chan made stripping an art form, said Dr Leong.