Friday, November 09, 2007

Scenes - Sarikei Cantonese Association Part 2

Sarikei Cantonese Association, 1980.
Kwang Chien Primary School Lion Dance fund raising.
Source: Sarikei Cantonese Association Relocation Magazine 1980


The Chinese Lion Dance is related the legend of Nian (年), a monster which terrorized a village and ate livestock, crops and villagers. A Buddhist monk instructed the villagers to assemble their best martial artists to build their own lion monster to fight against Nian. The monk also asked the villagers to fill bamboo shoots with gunpowder and decorate the village in red. The following year, when Nian came back, the village's best martial artists ran out with their lion monster while the rest of the villagers banged their pots and threw their firecrackers. Nian fled the village. The Chinese perform this dance to celebrate their victory over Nian annually and this is what the Chinese celebrate during Chinese New Year.


Sarikei Cantonese Association, 1989.
New lion initiation ritual at temple.
Source: Sarikei Cantonese Youth Association Launch Magazine 1989



The lion costume is operated by a pair of dancers (which formed the back and fore legs of the beast) and mimics the movements of a lion monster. The jaws and eyes of the costume can be opened and closed. The dance is accompanied by gongs, drums and firecrackers, representing the coming of good luck.


Sarikei Cantonese Association, 1989.
New lion initiation ritual at temple.

Source: Sarikei Cantonese Youth Association Launch Magazine 1989



Is anyone familiar with the lion dance initiation ritual? Do you recognise the man who did the final touch of dotting the pupils of the eyes of the lion? He's Temmengong .....


Sarikei Cantonese Association.
Chen Ko Ming.
Source: Sarikei Cantonese Association Relocation Magazine 1980


Chen Ko Ming 陈高明 was one of the most prominent personalities in Sarikei's recent history. He was borned in Sarikei. His father and family ran the pawn shop at 5 Wharf Rd, 廣合興 Kwong Hup Hin (or Kong Hup Heng in Cantonese pronunciation). He served as Chairman of the Sarikei Cantonese Association for 20 years. He started the 1955 hartal to protest against the colonial government's exorbitant increase in trade license fees. He was member of the State Council and a member of parliament. He later moved to Kuching and migrated to Canada in 1977. He passed away 2 years ago in Canada.

Note that the Cantonese Association was formed in 1955 after the success of the trade hartal in early 1955.


Sarikei Cantonese Association.
Chen Ko Ming.
Source: Sarikei Cantonese Association's wall of fame


Salute to the kapitan, a famous son of Sarikei!

8 comments:

Daniel Yiek said...

Note that the Cantonese Association was formed in 1955, the same year as the trade hartal vs the colonial government. Chen Koh Ming must have realised the importance of unity and networking for the community after the success of the trade hartal.

Lidasar said...

Long before the Cantonese Association was established there was a Kong Si house in Sarie where it was a kind of clan house for the Cantonese and new migrants who needed some form of assistance.
Later the Cantonese and Hokkien in Sarikei formed a Cantonese Hokkien unit to handle matters related to managing the graveyard and Ching Ming, follow which they also started a school called Kwang Chien. Foochow kids wasn't admitted then, only after the war and with the contribution of a sum of money by the Chinese Chamber of commerce then the school open it door to Foochow kids.

The earlier Kapitan before WWII was Chan Vei and probably all of you know his son-in-law 1980s Temanggung Chou Pak Ming (1989 Photo shown opening new lion eyes). Chan Koh Ming studied in China and later Singapore and probably the war cut short his studies. 廣合興 was doing a rosy business as a goldsmith shop cum pawn shop and as a Grocery shop too, it even expend her Grocery business to the 1st shop next block after the war but short lived. Their goldsmith shop hired two Mr. Lee, one of which later started his own goldsmith Weng Sing and the other Mr. Lee is a current town's elder whom everyone fondly called 四公. In the early days there were a number of Cantonese businesses all with name starting with Kong 廣such as Kong Yee Long, Kong Hung Fong, Kong Hua Long, Kong Hup Hua. One of the most prominent and successful then was the one operated by a Cantonese Chan Lok and could be one of the earliest family that came to Sarikei as the family was based in Sarie. Chan Lok has a total of 16 children and probably hundred over grandchildren and you could imagine how impossible to miss talking about his family if you mention Sarie. But most of this Cantonese business goes belly up by the time WWII arrives, 廣合興 remain the test of time.

The earliest shop house was a roll of Atap shop houses facing Wharf Rd with the back of the shop by the Rajang river bank. If you ever swam at that part of the river bank you will notice why there is so much old broken ceramic at that particular section of the river bank, this is no coincidence. Later two blocks of shop houses which we see today opposite to this Atap shop houses were built nearest to the old Police station. In 1935 two more block were completed and this were the block at Wharf Rd where 廣合興 is and also the 1st block on Repok Rd where the 1st unit is No. 1 Repok Rd with the shop Kong Tai Chiong operated, this were build on open land. These two blocks of shop houses were sold for $2000+ per unit then. After the war the blocks on Wharf Rd next to the old market and the 1st block on the right of Repok Rd were completed in 1946, they were built from land occupied by old Kumpung houses and sold for approximately $16,000 each. Around 1953 the three block along Central Rd was build from open space land where those days you could catch a lot of cat fish and simultaneously two roll of wooden shop lot were demolished to give way for the two blocks where the old Cantonese Association was and also the opposite block where build. These were sold for approximately $25,000 each. Subsequently the 4 blocks of wooden shops further up Repok Rd (probably built 1915 - 1920s) were demolished to give way for concrete shop houses, Rex cinema was built over the old market & hawker stalls but earlier it was an open space. Opposite Rex was an old wooden theatre which belongs to the Hakka family Kong San who also runs the ‘Sarikei Hotel’ at Wharf Rd and was sold & demolished in the 60s to give way for the current block, the contractor for this block was Foochow Engineer Tiong Hong Ming.

Kanga said...

Lidasar,

You are a walking memory bank! I can only and vaguely recall about 20%-40% of your descriptions, mostly described to me by elders when I was very young.

Nelson said...

Wow! Good good!

Daniel Yiek said...

Lidasar,
Great walk down memory lane!

The wooden theatre opposite Rex cinema at Repok Rd is the one featured before in this blog...properly wrongly tagged as old "Rex" cinema as it may not be called "Rex"...(name?). It did many live shows like Cantonese opera (those type with painted faces)and food street vendors hanged around outside.

Before the padang was completed, school sports days were held on the unpaved Central Road in 1950s. Children raced on the street. Gunny sack type of telematch races were also held. Rice gunny sacks were plentiful then. (source: my elder relatives - I was not borned yet).

Ikan Sembilang said...

Thanks to Lidasar for sharing with us some really interesting recollections of Sarikei early history. Not many in our generation would know that the first wooden shophouses in Sarikei were located in Wharf Road with their back facing the Rejang River! I bet they didn’t consult a Feng Sui master when those shophouses were constructed!

Lidasar said...

Thank you Daniel, Kanga and Ikan Sembilang.

Before Alzheimer's disorder set in we better recall as much as possible, I hope more of us will bring up old stories and this can help the others to recall back old memories better. Recalling old stories can help to slow down Alzheimer's disease.....believe me.

The 1955 Hartal is indeed an important part of Sarikei history but today I am going to share with you another incident that the younger generation might never heard off, those with grandfather is better to reconfirm before they say goodbye.

With the eruption of WWII and the surrender of the Brook's government to the Japanese, Sarikei like the rest was in panic mode. The warehouse in Sibu was already looted, news spread and follow which a group of Iban numbered 300 mainly from Pakan came rushing down Sarikei with Parangs. Knowing this is some upheaval with bad intension the town's leader gathered together our town warriors making a blockage at the 1st mile Repok Rd where the DO residence was. Foochow Kapitan Wong Yong Hua, Cantonese Kapitan Chan Vei and also the Malay Penghulu must have taken a big role in that few days. Everyone was anticipating that fighting will erupt but the wise pushes for negotiation and offering the Ibans to camp within the DO residence's ground. The town folks brought in a lot of food and prepare splendid feast with BBQ pig for the next few days before the Ibans return to their base.

Daniel Yiek said...

Lidasar,
Wow. Your info validates what was written in the WWII post (click sidebar) and pasted below:

On 27 Dec 1941, Sarikei denizens heard that a group of 100+ Dayaks were coming to town to loot. 1000+ Chinese and Malays armed themselves and when the Dayaks reached the river bank and saw the huge "army", they dared not go ashore. The Dayaks sent reps to negotiate with the Chinese and Malay leaders. As a pledge for peace, a pig was slaughtered as per native customs. The Chinese gave each Dayak $5 (not a small amount in those days) and a few katis of rice before the Dayaks departed. (Source: 1)

Sources:
(1) Pussy's in the well, Japanese Occupation of Sarawak 1941-1945, Chapter 5. By Julitta Lim Shau Hua.

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Thanks to a reader to caught the typo error on the year of Chen Ko Ming's migration to Canada. It'S 1977, not 1997.

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