The Hakka – Famous Kicked Out Chinese People

I am a pure Hakka Chinese. The Hakka people migrated southwards in China several times because of various undesirable stuff happening – such as foreign invaders coming a-slaughtering.

The locals didn’t like their turf being stepped on, and called these people ‘Hakka’ or ‘outsiders. The name stuck, and the outsiders started referring to themselves as Hakka.

With a large presence among the Overseas Chinese, the Hakka with their long acquaintance with persecution, exile and forced migration represent an epitome of Chinese hardiness and survival.

Now, the Hainanese are known for their cooking and opening of restaurants and coffee-shops.

The Hokkien are famous for bak kut teh (pork ribs soup) and char kway teow dishes. And also for songs and parodies that somehow aren’t as funny in any other dialect. Case in point: Ah Long Bukit Beruntung.

What about the Hakka, what are they well known for? Apparently, the Hakka are famous trouble-makers! (They even have a set of martial arts, the better to wreak vengeance upon their enemies).

I found out from my dad that Hakkas have produced a lot of great and famous men, including a lot of ‘outsiders’ who were controversial and noisy enough to get themselves kicked even further out! It seems like even after migrating once or more, prominent Hakkas these days still have to ‘migrate’ the way their proto-Hakka ancestors did!

Even the Wikipedia entry’s introduction says it! – The Hakka have had a significant influence on the course of Chinese and overseas Chinese history: in particular, they have been a source of revolutionary and political leaders.

And so, here I present to you some great Hakkas – many of whom were unceremoniously kicked out of their places, yet managed to thrive nonetheless.

Lee Kuan Yew, who had a Hakka great-grandfather, had his resourceless Singapore kicked out of Malaysia just 2 years after joining it to gain independence from the British. Singapore today has overtaken Malaysia, with a currency more than 2 times as strong.

Thaksin Shinawatra (there’s a surprise!), also with a Hakka great-grandfather, was ousted in a bloodless military coup while he was overseas. After which he went to London and bought the Manchester City Football Club.

Sun Yat-sen (likely a Hakka), the Father of Modern China who helped overthrow the Qing dynasty, and co-founded the Kuomintang was the first provisional President of the Republic of China, but was later repeatedly rebelled against and was repeatedly exiled.

Deng Xiaoping, a leader of Communist China, who brought the nation out of the vagaries of the Cultural Revolution into prosperity, but was also the one who cracked down on the infamous Tiananmen Square protests. Hakkas were also among otehr top posts in the echelons of Communist power.

Yap Ah Loy, Kapitan Cina whose leadership through unrest and violent clashes and later development of Kuala Lumpur helped it become the capital city of Malaya.

And of course, that most looked-up to Hakka, Hong Xiuquan, leader of the Taiping Rebellion. Hong Xiuquan took control of large areas of Central and Southern China and set up a Christian-based theocracy – the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace. The exams for officials were even based on Bible knowledge!

Ironically, his Qing opponents got help from the ostensibly Christian French and British to defeat the Heavenly Kingdom and restore the status quo (namely Confucianism, which 100 years later would replaced by atheistic Communism).

Then again, Hong Xiuquan had quite the unique doctrines… Such as that Jesus was not divine but merely God’s first son, and Hong Xiuquan was God’s second son and thus Jesus’ literal younger brother! But apart from that, the Heavenly Kingdom strove for some pretty admirable reformations – if badly carried out and brutally enforced (and I’m not saying that just because I’m a Hakka).

In fact, what with the classlessness and socialization, the later Communists would definitely have approved of the Heavenly Kingdom – just replacing Hong with Mao, and God with man.

Throw in the Hai San of the Larut Wars, and it looks like Hakkas pretty much stir up trouble wherever they go! Hey, I’m blogging controversial aren’t I? Need any more proof of Hakka meddlesomeness and mischief making? :p

Anyway, Hakka leader Chung Keng Quee later was a signatory of the Pangkor Treaty that ended the fighting (and gave the British a foot/strangle hold in Perak). And from that treaty, the town of Larut was renamed – Hakka drum roll please – Taiping !



PS. If you read Hakka – I mean, Chinese, you can check out

33 Responses to “The Hakka – Famous Kicked Out Chinese People”

  1. Steven Liu Says:

    Scott, I am also a pure Hakka. Get in touch with me. I have something very important to share with you.

  2. Scott Thong Says:

    Actually, I’m more banana than true hakka…

  3. KK Fung Says:

    More infor about hakka,M1

  4. Simon Thong Says:

    My masters thesis in sociology used the Taiping Revolution, a Hakka-led movement, as a case study. It should still be available at the library of the Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand. Its title: A Theory of Millennialism: The Taiping Revolutionary Movement.

  5. Noel Says:

    I do not consider myself as a trouble maker.
    We Hakka are hard working folks

  6. Jeanne Says:

    GO HAKKA! 😀

  7. Jeanne Says:

    GO HAKKA! 😀 I’m 100% Hakka too! 😀 we rock~

  8. Simon Thong Says:

    It is said that when the Taipings wanted to take Nanking city, they sent Hakka women-warriors who climbed the walls, killed the astounded men-sentries and opened the city gates. They were small and short but highly skilled in kunfu. It is said that short, small Hakka women are very fierce. I used to know one like that at varsity but I married a tall, well-built Hakka woman, and while she’s not fierce, she’s strong physically, mentally and spiritually. Don’t mess with her! We Hakkas are survivors, maybe more than other Chinese dialect-groups.

  9. wits0 Says:

    “Don’t mess with her! We Hakkas are survivors, maybe more than other Chinese dialect-groups.”

    Good, but don’t ever be that sort of pathetic lapdog type of MCA survivors.
    (MCA = Most Contemptible A**holes)

  10. SimonThong Says:

    MCA? Never go near those.

  11. Sooth Says:

    You’re doing a great disservice by calling us trouble-makers. We’re just street-smart, hard as nails, kick-ass survivors! 😉

  12. Simon Thong Says:

    Others call us Hakka trouble-makers, and we’re proud of this fact! Was Mao hakka, too? Won’t be surprised if he were….BIG trouble-maker…

  13. hakkasabahan Says:


    HAKka people HAK (scare) people to death!!

  14. Simon Thong Says:

    Hahahaha, I hear that all the time.

    As a kid, I lived next door to a man married to a hakka woman. One day, some labourers were doing renovations at her house, and she heard them talking about her as a fussy Hakka! She walked up to then and swore at them in Hakka! I was only 10 and still not conversant with Hakka swear words. You should have seen the shock on their faces!!! You can be sure I added some tasty swear words to my Hakka vocab. lol.

  15. hakkasabahan Says:

    May be you have watched this!

  16. Simon Thong Says:

    No, this is the first time…LOL.

  17. hakkasabahan Says:

    Hello Simon Thong, wonder which part of Malaysia you are from. I am from Sabah. Sabah is Hakka Thenha and feeling proud of it!!! Everywhere in the world, despite the great contribution of Hakka among Chinese, Hakka is minority. But not in Sabah. Hakka is the common language among all Chinese.

  18. Simon Thong Says:

    My grandfather, grandfather, father and his siblings arrived in Menglembu, near Ipoh, Perak, as immigrants from Kwangsi, South China. I was born in Ipoh. Mother’s side all Hakka also, from China. I was born in Ipoh,,and came back to Ipoh. Lots of hakka here but cantonese is spoken. My hakka dialect is now rojak 🙂

    I studied the Hakka-based Taiping Rebellion and wrote my Master’s theisis on it.

  19. hakkasabahan Says:

    Great! Well, mine from Konlan-hii in Kwangtung (Guanlan town in Guangdong). We speak Pau On (Bao An) Hakka.

    MAKAI YO???

  20. Kepha Says:


    I stumbled on your blog looking for info on Hakka history. My wife is one (from Taiwan), although I can’t claim the honor of Chinese descent. I’ve met Hakka people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait and a number of other countries, and my general impression is that they’re a hard-working, fun-loving folk who made good on often marginal land.

    I know Putonghua and some Hakka.


  21. wocview Says:

    Nice article! We of the Wocview team are pro-Hakka! Some of our contributors are Hakka! And there are different articles about Hakka’s in our blog!
    Take care!
    Vincent of the Wocview team

  22. simonthongwh Says:

    May 16, 2011 by simonthongwh

  23. simonthongwh Says:

    TAIPING MEN « simonthongwh
    Taiping Tienkuo A Theory of Millenarism: The Taiping Revolutionary Movement, 1850-65. Submitted for the degree of Master of Arts in Sociology at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand (15 November 1980), it gained the writer an MA degree with distinction.

    Taiping Men were Hakka Men.

  24. simonthongwh Says:

    Derrick Chang is a Canadian documentary photographer based in Hong Kong specializing in portraiture, events and humanitarian photography. His images have been published in CNN Go, Timeout Hong Kong, Asia Sentinel, JPG Magazine, Southern Weekend Guangzhou, The Library Project and various other non-go

  25. simonthongwh Says:

    Simon Thong Wee Hing
    Watch for updates on this post.
    HAKKA FACTS | simonthongwh
    Estimated 80 million worldwide Regions with significant populations: China: Guangdong, Fujian, Guangxi, Hong Kong Outside China: Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore

  26. whatsaysyou Says:

    Hello Simon, thank you for sharing this post. Do you happen to know any history of Hakka migration in China by chance? I am of Hakka ancestry but tyring to learn more about it

  27. Paul Golden Says:

    Hello Guys,
    interested to read all your comments about Hakka.
    I am currently researching Chang Pi-shi (Cheong Fatt Tze/ Zhang Bishi) probably the most influential overseas Nanyang Chinese (Hakka) at the beginning of the 20century. If anyone has any anecdotes regarding his family, his political and business achievements are very well documented, I’d be very interested in hearing them.

  28. Choby Says:

    My father is pure Hakka from Singapore and my mother is an American. So I am a mutt, but I grew up in Penang Malaysia and Singapore. My father always taught me about the Hakka people growing up, and my grandfathers journey from South China to Malaysia and down to Singapore. Although I am half white my siblings and I have 100% Hakka pride. We are living in the states now but keep our heritage. All my brothers and myself have Hakka clan tattoos, and we will always love our people.

  29. vincent kok Says:

    hello fellow hak yen. i am hakka who do not speak hakka. my father a hak and mom a teow chew..after married, they speak only cantonese in the house. my father never talk a words about hakka to me nor he encourage me into any involvement into our association.. not until i reach 30 year old that my pak gong tell me about my hakka importance than i finally asked more about our origin and now i am still learning hakka language. i like to talk it. i am from taiping, i’m from cheng sheng guangdong hak. the hai san assocociation is our wui gun since my great grandfather. chang keng kui is our heroes. when you come taiping, go to the lake garden. this is kui’s properties until his son donate it to the public.until today, taiping still have may trouble makers (da gao kai/fighting chicken) here cos many hakka still living here. i am proud to be a hakka.i am now the fifth generation of kok famiy in taiping.

  30. rly1987 Says:

    Keeping in line with the Hakka tradition of stirring up trouble for everyone lol:

  31. Hakka Women are strong, tough and resilient. And fierce. | weehingthong Says:

    […] The Hakka – Famous Kicked Out Chinese People – leading … […]

  32. Tony Says:

    Anybody check on the Taiwan incoming president…chai ingwen…her name suggest a Hakka I may be wrong Lee Teng Hui was outed as ethnically Japanese!!!!

  33. DC Says:

    I’m a Hakka, that explains my stubborn never give up aggressive nature. It’s in my DNA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: