Saturday, August 18, 2007

History - Sarikei Chinese Migrants part 3. 1920-1940s.

In 1901, when Foochows came to Sibu, the Hokkiens and Foochows didn't get along well due to rivalry and natural human tendency to stick to your own clan. In 1902, a few Foochows set up shops to trade among themselves while the Hokkiens traded with the Ibans and Malays. (Source: 1).

In 1910, when Foochows came to Sarikei, you can expect the same slow acceptance of the Foochows by the Hokkiens and Cantonese shopkeepers. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce was set up around mid 1930s or earlier to help Chinese traders do business better by bridging contacts and making information available. Click label below to see the 1937 picture of the older Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The existing Chinese Chamber of Commerce was built in 1940s (since we have a 1950 picture - click label below)

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce 1951.
Source: Sim (his aunt took this picture)

In the 1951 picture above, the big tree in the foreground was one of several that surrounded 2 sides of the old padang (field in Malay). The road in front was not paved. Behind the building was peat swamp (the Sarikei Recreation Club had not been built yet - now it had been torn down and replaced by new shops that are being built).
After the Chinese migrants had settled down, they started thinking about building a better future for the generations to come via an education system. In 1920, a wooden Methodist church was built by 2 gentlemen (黄清波,黄清春) with an attached Sze Hua primary school 泗華小學. (Source: 2). A Foochow school (Sze Mei School) was established in 1925 in Sarikei by private individuals. The Foochows also started Kai Wen School 開文中學 in 1922 in Binatang. Most teachers were recruited from China and even textbooks were imported from China. (source 3. Submitted by ST Lau).

Bear in mind that in the early 1900's, Sarikei was put under the town of Binatang (now called Bintangor) and later under the 3rd Division of Sibu. Sarikei became 6th division on 2nd April 1973.

Binatang Kai Wen High School 開文中學. Year of photo unknown. (4)
Upstairs was Kai Yuan Hall (Methodist Church).
This means the association started in 1903.

In 1927, Kwang Chien primary school was officially opened by Cantonese and Hokkiens (previously students studied in a shop house as early as 1926 or much earlier). A rural primary school Sze Lu (5.5 mile Repok Road) also opened in 1926. St Anthony's School (both a primary and secondary school initially) was founded in 1936 by Rev Quadekker, a Dutch Missionary. In 1939, the rural Hwa Chiew High School (now SMK Tinggi) was opened.
My mum told me that it was an honour and cool for kids to attend school in those early days. And you hated school days?

(1) Chinese Immigration and Society in Sarawak 1868-1917 (Craig A Lockard); Sarawak Gazette, 1 March, 1948
(2) 80th Anniversary souvenir issue of Methodist Church's Huai Ren Hall. 取自怀仁堂80周年纪念刊
(3) Chinese Vernacular Education in Sarawak during Brooke Rule, 1841-1946. By Ooi Keat Gin of the University of Hull and Universiti Sains Malaysia and published in Modern Asian Studies (1994)
(4) Bintangor Methodist Chinese Association's 90th Anniversary issue (1993)


Daniel Yiek said...

I started writing this post as the Chinese Chamber of Commerce with the rare 1951 photo. Then I ran out of things to write after 1 paragraph since this building has been blogged before.

Then I hit an idea...a new town was not just about shop houses and trade. It also includes the whole fabric of society like schools, religious places, amenities, etc. Then I went thru all my notes and picture archives. Hey, there's enough to write History Part 3. I find the early schools and their chronology fascinating. Hope u like the journey.

stlau said...

So Sze Hua is even older than Sze Mei. We are learning new things about Sarikei. Where is Sze Hua - is it the MACS - hopefully Daniel can write about this school in the near future (I am sure there are old pictures of this school. I only have new ones). St. Anne and the old church, the Resident house(s), the mosques in Sarikei, etc. Thanks to Sim for the great Chamber photo. Hope more readers can contribute old photos.

Daniel Yiek said...

I suspect that Sze Hua school 泗華小學 was the predecessor of the current Methodist primary school since it was attached to the original Methodist church. It's not known whether the original Methodist Church was at the existing position. Does anyone know?

Daniel Yiek said...

I got a surprise when I clicked on Statcounter on the sidebar. About 130+ unique readers over the last 2 days (about double normal readership). Looks like a lot of Sarikei folks are interested in our history and our roots.

Readers, pls email me content. I'm sure everyone has content, pictures, ideas, etc but just lazy to overcome the inertia of contributing. You can email me in Chinese or Malay too though I'm more comfy with English.

Ikan Sembilang said...

Some smart guy once said, “We cannot not know our history”. The last few postings certainly provide an enlightening account of Sarikei’s early history that we cannot not know. Good work!
I have come across a few interesting articles on Sarikei’s past. One of them gives an account of a major event in the history of Sarikei which, according to the author, eventually and indirectly led to the formation of SUPP whilst the others give a clue on who was Siaw Ah Khoon. To be the only local Chinese to have a road named after him, he must be quite a prominent person of his time. Jalan Siaw Ah Khoon is located in front of the JKR Office, Sarikei and in our school days, many of us had to use this road when we went to St. Ann’s or St. Anthony’s.
I’ll send the articles to Daniel for him to post whatever is relevant to Sarikei on STC.

stlau said...

Daniel can write several essays about political parties and elections in Sarikei - for the locals, election time means lots of happenings and excitements. Chin Ung-Ho (Sarikeian from Bo-len, I think) wrote a PhD thesis on Chinese Politics in Sarawak: A Study of the SUPP. It's published by Oxford University Press and dated 1997. Hope he knows about this site as all these histories are his expertise and also his research interest.

WMWong said...

Wow! Wow! Wow!
I love this blog which provided me so much information about Sarikei's history. What impressed me the most are those faded black & white pictures! I am sure my brother back in Sarikei has more b/w pictures that can share to everybody. Keep up the good job!

I will recommend more of my Sarikei friends currently based in Sg, overseas to view this blog.

Lidasar said...

I have not read any article on who Siaw Ah Khoon is but he was the deputy District officer during his tenure working for the white Raja. Ah Khoon is a Hakka from Kuching having attended a few years of English medium school and being the right hand man of a DO whom was certain to be a White man he was a very important person to the local folks in the old district building.

He holds the key to the treasury in the old district building and folks will have to look him up on matters such as application for arrival of new migrant and settlement. So if your Grandfather was bringing a bride back from Middle Kingdom than he would need to seek Ah Khoon help. Ah Khoon was synoymous with serving the local folks through the old district office building.

The old district office whom some called it "Glass office" was also where the police station was hosted before the proper building was constructed at the end of Wharf Rd. Further more it was also the place where they have a room as a clinic before the old hospital by the Nyelong river was built.

I guess Daniel is compiling articles on Jalan Siaw Ah Khoon, hope I did not mislead.

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

do you know how many Chinese were in Sarawak during the WW2.

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