Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Scenes - Sarikei Bai Sheng Cinema 1950's

I was talking to my friend bout the old cinema (now demolished) at the current Oriental Hotel location (Block 6 Repok Road Right) across the road from Rex cinema. A government website listed it as Rex cinema but his father, Mr Ling 林, an 80+ year-old former teacher at Kwang Chien school begged to differ. He said it's called Bai Sheng 百勝 (Hundred Victory in Mandarin). I clicked on the 1953 pic to enlarge it and sure enough, 百勝 was on the billboard. Bai Sheng was owned by Kong San, a Hakka from Kwong Sin 廣新of No. 11 Wharf Road.

It had Cantonese operas (ie. the type where actors and actresses had painted faces). Street vendors peddled food outside the cinema. People were willing to fork out RM$1 (a big sum in those days) for a deep fried drumstick. (source: my mum). Other live shows (singing, cabarets, magic shows and stand up comedy) from other cities and countries come to this cinema like those performing at Cathay cinema in the 1970s. Those were the days when denizens of Sarikei had good excuses to go out at night. Bai Sheng stopped operating temporarily during WWII for fear of been bombed.

Sarikei Bai Sheng cinema, 1953, Repok Road.
Find the side staircase to the upper circle seats.
Check out the cinema shop to the left.
Spot the stilts used to avoid floods.
Click to enlarge, click back arrow to come back

Sin Hua 新華 cinema was the predecessor of Bai Sheng (same location, different name). It was owned by a Foochow (Paul Chiang Po Lo 蒋保罗) who was some sort of an ambassador or representative of the Ching (Qing) Dynasty before 1911 revolution. At one time, there was an DC generator in the engine room which provided electricity to the whole of Sarikei.

同利華 Tong Li Hua silent movie cinema was before Sin Hua 新華. It was located at the 5th block of Repok Road Right. It was on the upper level of the middle shop and right behind was the house of Low Ah Kiew. 同利華 Tong Li Hua was the business of the Chan, related to early kapitan Chan Wei 陳偉. 同利華 was involved in sawmill in lower Rajang in the early days before the wooden shop blocks were built along Repok Road. This argurs well with the early record of Chan Wei trading in wood under Chop Hou Nging 厚源号 in Binatang. One of the Chan was Chan Tat 陳達 who was the brother of Kapitan Chan Wei. People used to call him 師爺達 Sage Tat. 師爺達Sage Tat had very long beard that reached his belly button and folks looked up to him to solve problem involving the law. Chan Tat had a daughter who started early hair saloon 红玫瑰(Red Rose) at 4th block Repok Right. Her children had European pedigree. In those days, there were 3 Sages 師爺, the other two were 師爺 Seng and 師爺 Gok. These wise man helped solving community problems. (Source: Reader Lidasar)

Sarikei Bai Sheng cinema, Dec 1951, Repok Road.
泗華 Kindergarten Spring Season Graduation.
L1Lim Nai Mei 林乃美 (daughter of Lim Chew Pen林昭平)
L2 詹桂章 (father of 詹木嵩 ); L3 Chen Ko Ming 陳高明
L4 Ong Po Ai 王保愛 (wife of Tan Kim Sing 陳敬信)
Find grass growing on the unpaved Repok Road.
Click to enlarge, click back arrow to come back.
Source: Ease Chen

This rare photo gave some insights into old Sarikei. There was a kindergarten called 泗華 (Sze Hua; Sarikei Chinese). In 1920, a wooden Methodist church was built by 2 gentlemen (黄清波,黄清春) with an attached Sze Hua kindergarten 泗華小學. (Source: 1) The name of the graduation ceremony (Spring Season) still harped back to China's four seasons. In the early days, books were imported from China.

(updated) The lady at the back row, 1st from right, was Madam Ong Poh Ai 王 寶愛 the wife of Tan Kim Sing 陳敬 信 (early headmaster of Kwang Chien). Mdm Ong Poh Ai 王 寶愛 used to run the Sze Hua kindergarten of Methodist School and Mrs. Tiong Hung Ming continued after her. (Source: Reader 45rpm)

Who's the well dressed man at the back row with a hat, 3rd from right? Why did they choose the cinema to take a graduation picture? Was it because they wanted to take advantage of the steps or was it because the cinema was a focal point in town and the school was near it (walking distance from the Methodist church location)? Well, maybe all of the above.

Check out the movie banners. On the left was a Chinese kung fu movie with a typical title 龍兄虎弟 (Dragon and Tiger Brothers). On the right was a Malay movie starring none other than P. Ramlee, the iconic Malay director, actor and songwriter. At the back was another Malay movie and a Hollywood movie called Sword Avenger. Note that it was Rex who brought in Indian movies from Bollywood in the 1970s.

Akan datang (coming soon): Sequels to 龍兄虎弟 (Dragon and Tiger Brothers)?

(1) 80th Anniversary souvenir issue of Methodist Church's Huai Ren Hall. 取自怀仁堂80周年纪念刊


Daniel Yiek said...

For those in Sarikei, pls email pics of the poster/banner war heating up for the General Election. I'll be doing a post on this hot topic...but I need pictures.

Kanga said...

I heard about this cinema before. Now I know the name and even have seen a photo of it! great! I used to live around this area in the mid 60's. Off course by then the cinema has gone. The butcher shop (selling pork) and open air food court were just opposite this location. They're gone too. Recently I stayed in the Oriental Hotel. It brings back fond memories.

easechen said...

The lady on the right was the late Madam Ong, wife of Mr. Tan Kien Sin. She taught at Methodist Anglo Chinese School until she retired, but passed away right after her retirement. Her daughter Angela Ong is still in Sarikei. Her other daughter Mrs Chung taught at St Anthony's. Chen Ko Ming was on the board. The other man was Mr. Ma Mao Ching, who later taught at Sarikei High school.

Tuan Lokong said...

Just like a dream Daniel, surely then I was only few years my father would carry me on his shoulder and I forgot which theatre we went to. I only manage to see the introductions and fall asleep in his arms. Oh boy what a nice time then...

Daniel Yiek said...

Thanks for the alert. Have removed the spam comment from "Mogul"

In the 2nd pic of kindergartne kids, there were a few very young kids in the background trying to get into the camera. :)

Daniel Yiek said...

I have created some fake magazine covers of Sarikei at the sidebar. Enjoy!

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