Sunday, April 29, 2007

Scenes - Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce 1950
Source: Wharf Workers Union

he Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce is one of the most recognised buildings in town. It was set up in 1932 to help Chinese traders do business better by bridging contacts and making information available. The Kwang Chien school history mentioned a "Chinese Hall" building in 1927 but this is not the same building. A reader found a 1937 picture of the first Chamber of Commerce. Updated: This building was completed in 1940 based on the inscription on its facade.

This 1950 picture was taken in the Wharf Workers Union above Eastern Cafe at Bank Road opposite the clock tower. It was hanging on the dusty wall and I stood on a chair to capture it. I couldn't avoid the sun's reflection as you can see.

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce 1959
Wedding Ceromony with band.
Find the sun motif at main entrance and red bricks

It was also popular for wedding ceromonies. Many of your parents signed their matrimony documents here. The basketball stadium next door (now demolished) was used for hosting mega wedding lunches where many table of 10's were arranged. I loved feasting at those wedding lunches as a kid.

On the left of the entrance was a vertical signboard that said Sarawak, Sibu, Sarikei and followed by the name of a prominent Hokkien businessman 林森. (source: Moses Ling)

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce 1968
Source: Halamanku

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce 2004
Find the arch built at main entrance

The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sarawak (ACCCIS) was founded in 1965. It is the parent organisation of the Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Sarawak. It has 23 constituent chambers. Under the voluntary system of Chambers of Commerce, the ACCCIS is an autonomous private sector organisation that represents 4000+ Chinese companies, individuals and trade associations in particular and Chinese business community.

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce 2006
Find the new fence, new signboard and Sarawak flag.

The building was badly maintained in the 1970's and 1980's. It was known to many as the building next to the basketball stadium where the stadium caretaker lived. In the early 2000's, it underwent renovation with a strange mix of blue and red colours. The original half sun motifs above the windows were highlited in blue (Update: The motif is the Kuo Ming Tang logo. See comments.) The two round arches that mimic ancient China's architecture were also highlighted. In 2004, space behind the building was rented to food stalls to bring in revenue to maintain the building and it brought night life to this area. The Family Planning unit was also located here for a few years.

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce 2006
Find the round arches and half sun motifs

This is one of the last remaining heritage icons of Sarikei. Kuching has converted its Chamber of Commerce into a museum by the Sarawak River. If Sarikei ever decides on setting up a museum, this would be the ideal location with its old world feel. A museum, maybe, but how did the Family Planning unit end up there for some time?


Daniel Yiek said...

I have emailed the Sarikei contact listed at the Chamber's website. Hopefully we can find out the year the building was completed.

NELSON said...

notice the kuomintang logo too.

Kanga said...

'Kuomintang' logo - it represents 'clear sky white day'. It was the symbol of Nationalist China founded in 1911 by Dr. Sun Yat-Seng.(I am not suggesting that this building was built that early).
This building had been used for many purposes. As a very young boy I was innoculated against small pox and cholera by visiting medical teams performed in this building. Other memorable events were tai-chi classes, Chinese chess competitions, etc
Good to see this building is still standing.

Sim Y said...

This is the one of the last heritage standing. But the building should be kept and maintain as original as possible.

Daniel Yiek said...

Nelson, Kanga,
Great info on the KuoMinTang logo! Didnt know that! I recall the toilets in the building were used by people attending matches at the basketball stadium.

The email address of the sarikei contact listed in the Chamber's website is no longer valid - error msg.

Some interesting observations. Is there an architect (reader) that can verify 1 & 2 below:

1. This building seems to have art deco architecture influence.
2. The pillars of the front balcony seems to be influenced by Victorian/Roman pillars popular during the colonial days.
3. There are the 2 round arches of traditional Chinese gardens.
4. The windows with wooden panes are of the same style as Cathay cinema/Sing Sing block.

Ikan Sembilang said...

You have done a great job in re-producing the 1950 photo of the Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce! It was our favourite 'playground' when we were kids. I remember there was a concrete water tank at the back of the building, where we used to curi water to quench our thirst after a game of basketball next door. The elderly Hainanese caretaker who lived at the back of the building was not always happy to share his water with kids like us.
From your photos, I can see that the Chamber building has undergone quite a lot of changes since I last saw it. You may not know that it is not the first Chinese Chamber of Commerce building in Sarikei. If I can get hold of your e-mail address, I'll send you a rare photo of the first Chinese Chamber of Commerce building in Sarikei.

Lidasar said...

You can find out the year clearly embossed with smaller character on the right hand side of the big wording shown in front of the building balcony but the year follows the Dr.Sun’s revolution year starting from 1911. I can clearly remember reading this character before but I can’t recall the year. If it reads “Ming Kuo twenty five” it will mean 1911 + 25 = 1936

The main contractor of this building was a Cantonese and his son-in-law, the finest craft man in those days where his skill were well received and our farm house was build by him. Unfortunately no steel enforcement were used in the cement which I suppose wasn’t available then. This was noticeable at the scale of the damage around the side of the building where the arch is.

nelson said...

most of the old shophouses' pillars were built by bricks only, not enforced with steel inside them.

Lidasar said...

I guess most would have forgotten of the original cement flooring and arch on the side of the building which resembles an aftermath of an earthquake in the 70’s. Nothing was used to enforce the cement flooring when it was 1st build and the soft ground did not help either. Nelson is correct to say the pillars were built with bricks and not enforced by steel. No one does that anyway in those days, not even the Romans.

Talking about old bricks, in those days it was supplied by a Foo Chow gentleman who started a brick factory in Jakar with his wife and he kept a cow to use for stepping and mixing the soil. Probably the bricks used were from this factory.

stlau said...

It would be nice if a reader can supply Daniel with a photo from the seventies (or at least a pre-renovation photo). Also, if somebody in Sarikei can help retake that 1950 photo. I guess there is a reason behind the blank in the 1959 photo??

Kanga said...

Remember the saying:"if you drink the water,think of its source..". To me this building represents the early hard working elders who understood the necessity of 'unity is strength'. This was the meeting place of all the Sarikei great business minds in those days.
Hey Ikan sembilang, I never knew there was another Chamber building in Sarikei? Do send to Daniel to share it with all. Daniel, your e-mail address for Ikan?
Hi all, do keep sending in your info. I really enjoy reading them. Cheers!

Daniel Yiek said...

Wow, this post attracted a lot of insightful comments..I avoided blogging on this building last year till I found more old pictures. I wanted to take pics of the interior when I was back for CNY but the building's fence was locked!

The Wharf Workers Union photo was a gem. I thought I might find some old pics and I went there for the 1st time. Imagine the old folks playing mahjong and I climbed on a chair to take a pic of the photo hanging there. They thought I was nuts.

The 1959 wedding pic was blanked out because the people did not publicity.

Yes, I recall the cracked floors and arch outside the building! And the dirty toilets from overuse from trespassers.

Ikan Sembilang,
Looking fwd to the old pic. Pls use close range mode to take the picture (clearer). My email address is available at my profile =>

Daniel Yiek said...

If you click on the 1950 pic to enlarge it, you can see Nipah palm fronds tied to the pillars. That's a nolstalgic way of decor used for celebrations. Remember?

Sorry, late on my post. Labour Day lah. Have a rest. ;-)

Nelson said...

good job! keep it up, sometimes i wanted to snap photos of parts of sarikei too but thought that other people will think that i m crazy or 'sakai', but we shouldn't be shy right? as we are doing the right thing, preserving the history of sarikei etc. anyway, SLR camera will help a bit as people will think that we are reporters. Daniel, did you ask for permission to snap the all the photos?

stlau said...

I have an idea since Daniel said he will eventually run out of things to write. Daniel could set up a platform on this website to allow readers to post photos (plus a caption to go with each photo). Daniel could separately decide whether to keep or remove those photos. Or if control is an issue, then the readers could send to Daniel to do the posting. This will hopefully encourage more people to send in some good Sarikei photos. For example, I found that wedding photo very interesting but the blank spoilt it. Daniel could even eventually compile them into a picture book similar to “Sibu of Yesterday.” We could also get a couple reporters in Sarikei to publicize this website in order to solicit for more old Sarikei photos. What do you think? Please ignore my suggestion if it is a bad idea.

Nelson said...

getting reporters to publicize this website is a good idea.

Daniel Yiek said...

Yes, I asked permission to take the 1950 pic. I think it was the caretaker of the Wharf Workers Union. He nodded and just continued reading his Chinese papers. The 1959 wedding photo is from my family album.

Thanks for the feedback. I would rather have people email me ( pics or else the blog will have a control issue like wikipedia where annoymous editors contributed.

There's a CD on Sarikei development done by the the ruling political party but I have not seen it as I didnt know how to get hold of it. Maybe it's in the public library. I think that's mostly on development projects but would have some good old pics in there.

It's a good idea to compile into a book (maybe soft copy for download). It can be a retirement project with a couple of us. I have always enjoyed writing but right now I have a new role in the company I work for and that takes a lot of my time.

Reporters? Maybe I will email Borneo Post and See Hua Daily News later.

stlau said...

I may go to Sarikei in June and I can certainly look around for some rare photos to share with the readers here. I can also talk to the reporters. I think the VCD is on District Council website.

Lidasar said...

CD on Sarikei development an alternative source of information but I would not trust, can you still recall how the Govt sponsor finding concluded with the story of Sarikei’s name derived from chicken trading?

Anonymous said...

i only know that there are Family Planning unit scary...dun dare to enter... :p

ivy said...

If I am not mistaken, during night time, they will set out some tables and chairs for cafe businesss. I patronized there during CNY of 2006. All I remember was there were a lot of nyamuk!

Daniel Yiek said...

History of the chamber of Commerce from ACCIS


泗里奎中华商会成立於一九三二年。回忆当年发起人林少如中医师个人幸劳宣传,独力筹备,厥功至伟。以为我会员永不敢忘怀者。是时也,会无地址,租屋而居,比及邱炳农先生出任会长时,乃开始筹建会所,建筑费用半由会员捐助,半由出口货品徵抽,几经艰难,於一九三九年开始建。於一九四零年建成之堂皇会所,在当时而言,乃本邦唯一之宏伟侨产,门前额上,“砂罗越泗里奎中华商会”之题字, 乃系当年中国国府主席林森之手笔。

自胜利光复后,邱氏辞去主席职,於一九五三年以来历任主席为陈高明(1953 -1957),王仰华先生(1958-1959), 陈高明先生(1960- 1966), 陈纯堂先生(1967-1968), 俞德安先生(1969-1973),徐兴礼先生(1974-1984),甲必丹黄祥洲(1985-2000), 张成川(2001-2009), 现任会长为黄良明,目前有会员257名。

泗里奎中华商会虽处在工商业落后之小市镇,但对会员之利益维护,不遣余力,尤以一九五四年政府对商业牌照税突起一千巴仙以上而发起 “罢市十日”之抗议行动,轰动遐迩。此外对人民之利益,亦极关怀,举凡学校,体育,慈善等事业亦多予协助,建树良多。会员如能益加奋力,团结合作,使该会历史发扬光大,前途岂可限量哉。


Daniel Yiek said...

History of Bintangor (Binatang) Chamber of Commerce.











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