Sunday, December 16, 2007

Scenes - Sarikei Police Station

Sarikei Police Station, 2006

Who do you gonna call when you are in trouble? 999. The crime busters! In the old days, crime rate was arguably lower compared to now. The population has now grown and the community is less closely knitted compared to the pioneering days. In old days, it would be small petty crimes and the closest most of you had ever come to this police station was for been caught cycling without lights.

The police station building was built in the 1950s and is very well preserved. Everything at the facade (the windows with 6 glass panels each, the front entrance with the arch and the waiting area) looks the same (except for the blue colour). The roof tiles have changed from wood to modern blue tiles. There was no fence or walls then. (source: compared to an very old picture I saw).

Sarikei Map, 2004. (3 years old).
Click to enlarge. Click Back arrow to come back.

The police station is situated at the junction of 2 roads, Jalan Kubu Lama (Old Fort Road in Malay) and Market Road (see top right section of map, A8 cell), that reminds us of old Sarikei. Jalan Kubu Lama is the area where the old James Brooke fort was built to "protect" Sarikei from the Ibans which he considered as the enemy.

Market Road is named after the first wet market in Sarikei in the 1930s (at Rejang River, opposite No. 22 Wharf Road which was Kwong Lee Bank then). That wet market was a single storied building made of bilian wood. The wet market business was moved to the current wet market at Bank Road in the 1950s and this old building was converted into a recreation club (mahjong, etc). The club was the cool place to hang out with western delights and piping hot kopi (coffee) from a Hainanese stall. The building had a smaller building at the side where an Indian sold pineapples, pumpkins, etc and continued even after the market was relocated. Pineapples were sold for 1 or 2 cents each then! (source: Lidasar)

Rusty Cars in front of Sarikei Police Station, 2007.
Looks like 1970s cars - either stolen or accident vehicles.

Before the police station was built, this place was full of coconut trees. It was the area where the denizens queued up to buy fresh water from the original water tank. Why? Because the water that came out from the tap in the 1950s was not sanitised enough (brownish?). The water was hard (i.e. with a lot of mineral content) and you could not get much lather or froth from your soap and toothpaste when the water was agitated. (source: my senior relatives)

Rusty Car in front of Sarikei Police Station, 2007

Let's preserve this police station. In future, if there's any new building, it would be important to integrate this building as part of the new building. (eg: as the reception entrance). Mature countries use this type of building concepts to create balance between heritage preservation and new construction. Otherwise Sarikei's heritage would end up like the rotting cars above.


Daniel Yiek said...

You commented before that the original wet market was next to the old customs building. Do you mean that the old customs building is opposite the police station then?

I have seen an old 1940-1950s pic that showed a building at Rejang River right at the beginning of Market Road (ie. opposite the space between the police station area and Block 4 Wharf Rd)

Kanga said...

In the 60's anyone found taking photos of the police station will be in hot waters! It was heavily guarded (there was a guard post in front with a sub-machine gun and at least 2 soldiers. The army barrack was behind the police station. There were 3 other guard posts; one next to the Sesco power station, two at the stretch on either end of jalan Central.
I think Daniel's description of the custom house location is correct. All goods imported and exported went through the custom house. The wharf in front of this custom house was also the place where you get to on Rajah Mas to go to Kuching. This place in front of the police station has been very busy in exporting pepper....
Perhaps Lidasar would have a few other tales to tell.
Ye, I was pull up by a police in Sarikei once at night(no light on my bicycle, and I was told to push the bicycle instead of riding it).

Lidasar said...

Can anyone recall the goose keep at the old police station yards? Goose are useful as guard and mind you this birds are famous for saving the Roman Empire from a surprise attack by the Gauls in the 365BC. Before this building was build the police post was at one of the room in the old district council roll of wooden building.

Water story; In the early days shops wasn't fitted with pipes and taps. The Brook's authority fitted a big water tank, during those days water were drawn from upper Rajang River and transport by boat to the wharf and the water was pumped up to the water tank. Folks had to buy water from this source and some hired coolie to transport water to their shops on a daily basis. The coolie will carry using bamboo pole with two buckets in front and two behind.

This goes on until the 50s before pipes were installed and goes the water tank, in the beginning the water were drawn from Jakar and during dry spell taps water became very salty and water have to be brought in by truck to the location where JKR is, town folks have to collect water using container fasten to bicycle or 3 wheeler or 4 wheeler push cart. This happens even in the 60s until the water board changed the location to draw water from Penghulu Eman home base Sugai Payong.

In the old days before the war there was a Hong Kong styled restaurant at the wooden shop house where now 金山 Kim San coffee shop is located. The name of the restaurant was called 一四七 and if you ask the old town elder who are in there 80s they would probably tell you fond memories of this outlet where items such as Char Siew Pow was available. The block was demolished to give way to the concrete block where we see now. In the old days there was this Cantonese who was hired to carry water for client like 一四七 on a daily basis using four buckets on bamboo pole over shoulder.

Kanga is correct on the custom location and explanation. In the late 50s - 60s the wharf was a busy place with 2 groups of Foochow and 1 group of Hokkien coolies and at the height each coolie membership were trader for over 10 thousands dollars.

tuanlokong said...

Last year, I used to send lunch for a cousin-in-law his name is Lance Corpral Patrick Yap.
Iban in Chinese name, yes adopted to a Chinese. Used to be a Traffic Police Station. Agreed with you guys should preserve such an elegant building. I am afraid someone will purchase the area then all will be forgotten. Behind was Border-scout camp until late 80s. Towards the river side was the Talikom Barrack (This is at the Nyelong river bank)beside again the Marines.

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