Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Scenes - Sarikei Cantonese Association Part 1

Sarikei Cantonese Association, 1955.
Opening Ceremony - Members Group photo.
Click to enlarge. Click Back Arrow to come back.
Find the piles of stones on Repok Road.

Source: Cantonese Association

The Cantonese and Hokkiens were the first Chinese groups to arrive in Sarikei in the early to mid 1800's (evidence from Sibu's early graves). The Cantonese in Sarikei came mainly from Xin Hui 新會 (county level city) of Jiangmen 江門 (prefecture city level) in the Guangdong 廣東 province of south eastern China. The Cantonese dialect of Xin Hui is Siyi or sei yap 四邑 which is different from the Cantonese spoken in West Malaysia.

Sarikei Cantonese Association, 1955.
Front row: Chen Ko Ming (3rd from L), Leong Ming Teck 梁明德 (4th from L)
Back row: Lau Khan 劉根 (5th from L)

Source: Cantonese Association

The other smaller group of Cantonese in Sarikei is the Hakka 客家. Hakka were originally from Central China around the Yellow River and later migrated to Southern China and from there to the rest of the world. The Hakkas are known for their political leaders. In Sarikei, the famous Hakkas include Chong Siew Fai (Chief Justice of Sarawak) and Chong Siew Chang (lawyer and politician). These 2 brothers were teachers at St Anthony's School around 1962.

Sarikei Cantonese Association, 1979.
Min Lik Secondary School Lion Dance Fund Raising.
Check out the names of the 2 familiar shops.

Source: Cantonese Association

Chinese clans tend to form associations to network and help each other. The Cantonese Association in Sarikei started in Block 3 Right (counting from Rejang River) of Repok Road. The administration office was moved to the 1st floor of the Payang Puri hotel block in 1980 while the mahjong & games area was retained in Block 3 Right till it was burned down in 1990. It is known for their lion dance cum fund raising, networking through mahjong and karaoke sessions and giving cash ang pows to its students.

Sarikei Cantonese Association, 1979.
National Day Celebration.

Source: Cantonese Association.

The background of the above 1979 pictures show the shops in Central Road, including Cathay cinema and the red bean trees around the padang (field). You can also observe the old Sarikei District Council building and the stage built for the 1974 Governor's birthday celebrations. Check out the martial arts demo and the lion dances. So you think you can dance?


Daniel Yiek said...

Do you like the 1955 pictures? It's a pity that Block 3 Right was burned down. In the old days, you can hear the mahjong tiles from the 1st floor of the Cantonese Association till the wee hours of the night.

Kanga said...

Sei Yap (four counties) Cantonese were the early migrants to many parts of the world including Sarikei. Before the 70's if you go to US and don't speak Sei Yap, you are almost 'dead -duck' among the Chinese there. After the 70's the Hong Kong cantonese became popular through cantonese songs and movies (and off course through migration). The 1955 photos showed so many familiar faces (makes me feel as if I am back to 4-5 yrs old and running around at kneel cap height).Lion dance in Sarikei is as old as I can remember. Daniel, I wonder where you get these photos! there must be more!

Daniel Yiek said...


Siyi or sei yap 四邑 is the one the major Cantonese dialect groups and is the dialect used in Taishan 台山, Enping, Kaiping, and Xinhui 新會.

The 1955 photos were from the 1980 Cantonese Association magazine that was issued for the opening of the new location at Payang Puri block (after the old location was burned). I went to the Cantonese Association library there. There was no archives section of history available for readers. Then I went thru a pile of dusty mixed magazines and found this 1980 magazine. I would say most old photos are in the members' family albums.

Lidasar said...

The 1955 photo do show some familiar faces. Sited in front the young gentlemen with spectacle should be Mr.Chan Kou Ming and his elder brother is standing in the back roll with a pair of spectacle too. On the right of Kou Ming is Mr.Yip the barber, the other gentlemen sited in front with spectacle is Jow Chiew whom some of you might know his daughter whom is the lady boss of the famous Ah Kow restaurant. On the right of Jow Chiew is Mr.Zee Wei. The goldsmith shop owner Mr.Lee is 3rd from Left standing; the 5th from Left standing is Mr.Lou Kan. If no effort is taken to keep all this record in the next 10 years I believe everything will be gone forever.

Why the name Kwang Hui Sow? Each word represent each district in Canton, this 3 district which is next to each other in Canton is where the Cantonese from Sarikei are mostly originated.

Is the Hakka more politically inclined? I think so too. There was an occasion in the 1950's where Mr.Lee Kwan Yew was passing by Sarikei and was having morning tea at Yew Lian coffee shop, the same coffee shop where the 1955 photo was taken. He was on his way to Sibu to defend his client who was involved in a timber smuggling case.

Ikan Sembilang said...

A few faces in the 1955 Committee photo look familiar to me too. Sitting next to Kapitan Chen Ko Ming, the Chairman of Sarikei CCC who initiated the trade hartal earlier in that year, is Mr Leong, the Cantonese Association Chairman who came from Singapore to work in Sarikei as the Manager of Kong Lee Bank. Standing in the back row next to Daniel’s grandpa is the father of our schoolmate, who used to run a grocery shop next to Kin San Kopitiam.
Looking at the first group photo, it looks like in the fifties there were many more Cantonese in Sarikei than now!

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