Why is it important to document the first or second batch of pioneers at Sarikei's old shops? These were the entrepreneurs that built this
city downtown. Some from the first batch did not succeed past World War 2 and some shops soldiered on till today. Let's try.
Block 3 Wharf Road was built in the early 1930s (?) since Block 2 and 1 were built in 1935.
No. 17 Wharf Road:
福興 Foo Hin machinery
No. 16 Wharf Road:
成功 Success Transport
新餘五金 Sing Yu Goldsmith
No. 15 Wharf Road:
豐昌 Fong Chang Co. grocery
No. 14 Wharf Road:
The Yap family owned and operated 成吉 in Rajang, together with 順發 Soon Huat. These two families dominated most of the business in the Rajang River mouth area long before the war. Dr Yap's father has a relative who worked for 成吉. 成吉 moved from Rajang to No. 14 Wharf Road. The boss did't have a son and the adopted son was not a suitable choice so eventually the son-in-law 張武祥 took over the business and later moved the business to No. 23 Repok Road, distributor of cigarettes brands like 555 and Benson & Hedges. (source: Reader 45 rpm).
協順 Hiap Soon general store (clothes and apparels). Most you will know this shop which later moved to No. 9 Wharf Road of Block 2. Foochow owned (Loh family).
No. 13 Wharf Road:
生發 Seng Huat kopitiam (coffeeshop) has a kampua stall operated by Mr Lim (deceased in 1997). There's a billiard table at the back of the shop.
Another Hainanese, Lim Meng Aik, also rented a stall to sell beverages. His daughter, Grace Lim, is (was?) a teacher at St Anthony's School. Another daughter works at SESCO sarikei. His son, a chemist, and eldest daughter, a nurse, have migrated to Perth.
Before the war, Nyelong River had only two motor boat operator. One of the boat is called 利 隆 Li Lung operated by the shop 廣和隆 Kong Ho Lung at No 13 Wharf Rd. The other was operated by Kapitan Chan Wei and the name of his boat was 利 生 Li San. Chan Wei came to Binatang first to start a business but later he moved to Sarikei. He operated a shop in the back of those wooden shops alone Repok Road in the 1930s but stopped when he started the motor boat business.
No. 12 Wharf Road:
新金興 Sin Kim Hin, owned by the (Hokkien) Kueh family and is still in operation (specialises in cooking gas today). The old extended Kueh family is big because they have several siblings. One of the old siblings owned a seafood warehouse at Nyelong River behind the old SESCO electricity generators. One of the Kueh's owned the only 3 shops in Belawai downtown.
順發 Soon Huat general store (Hokkien) owns the other half
順興 Soon Hin (Hokkien) operates from the back along lorong 2 (lane) as an internet cafe now.
This is the best preserved shop front in Block 3. Kudos to the owner. The intricate designs below the gentle arch, the half length wooden windows (the original were full length) and its glass panels above blends well against a stark wall. The red pillars and red grills below give it an old world feel (colours inspired by Malacca? :)) The back of the shop still has the hearts patterned balcony with chimney!
Do you remember this type of old grills from the 1970s? Before the grills were available, there were only wooden planks that could be folded to the sides but you had to carry the main wooden doors and tie them to the cement pillars at the shop front.
Now unlock your grill and let your memories flood out.