Tuesday, April 08, 2008

People - Sarikei Cantonese Kapitan Chan Wei (1878-1947)



Sarikei Kapitan Chan Wei biography.
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.
Source: Written by Yii Yek Seng of United Daily ( 联合日报), Dec 2007.
Submitted by: Ikan Sembilang



Chan Wei 陳 was born in 1878 in Lin Chao 臨潮 village, Xin Hui 新會 county, Kwang Dong 廣東 province, China. He passed away in 1947 in Sarikei at the age of 69. When he first came from Southern China, his first stop was Rajang (Rejang) town at the mouth of Rajang (Rejang) River. All key government administration was located at Rajang town then before it was later moved to Binatang (Bintangor). Sarikei was not well developed then. (note: "Sarikei was a small and exceedingly dirty Chinese bazaar and Malay kampung" then when Rejang town was the headquarters of the Lower Rejang in the late 1800s)

Chan Wei moved to Binatang around 1925 and started a business called Chop Hou Nging 厚源号 which specialised in trading of local produce and belian wood. At that time, a lot of people from Sare sold their belian wood through Chop Hou Nging 厚源号.


Sarikei 2.5 mile Repok Road cemetery, before Sekolah Tinggi.
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.
Source: Malsingmaps.com (you can contribute content there).
Submitted by Richard C.



Later when Sarikei had developed properly, he moved from Binatang to Sarikei to start Chop Kwong Yue Hin 廣悦興号 at the wooden shops along Repok Road in the 1930s but stopped when he started the motor boat business. He was entrepreneurial, had a large social network and touched people's hearts deeply. Two years later, he was appointed by the British colonial government to become the Cantonese headman, the kapitan. (Note: Kapitans were the chiefs of ethnic communities and wielded considerable influence during the colonial days, contributing to social, economic and political development in areas under their jurisdiction).


Sarikei 2.5 mile Repok Road cemetery, before Sekolah Tinggi.
Memorial monument to Chan Wei and Lin Zhao Bian.
Source: Halamanku


Qiu Bing Nong 邱炳浓 (update: English name is Khoo Peng Loong, the Cantonese kapitan after Chan Wei) initiated a donation drive of $50 each to reach a final sum of $1000. This sum was used to purchase a piece of land at 2.5 mile Repok Road from 鐘海, a Hakka. (source: 1) (updated)

After Chan Wei became kapitan, he not only took care of Cantonese matters. All Sarikei folks (regardless of dialect) would look for him to discuss matters. He was visionary. Chan Wei, and the Hokkien kapitan then, Lin Zhao Bian 林昭邊, (note: of Chop Lim Heng Teck 林恒德, No. 4 Wharf Road) applied to the government for a Chinese cemetery. As a result, the government approved a piece of land at 2.5 mile Repok Road to be designated as the Cantonese and Hokkien cemetery in the 1930s.

As of now the land title of this piece of land is still registered under the names of Chan Wei and Lin Zhao Bian. This cemetery is originally under the care of a trustee of committee members. The committee members built a memorial monument at the cemetery to commemorate the contribution of these two pioneers to the Chinese society.


Sarawak map - around Sarikei.
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.
Find Batang Lassa which intersects upper Batang Rejang (not shown).



When the late Chan Wei was doing business in Sarikei, he had to tackle the increase in the Cantonese population and the daily commuting problems of the town. He switched his business to river transportation and bought a small motor boat and named it Gang Zhou 岗州. It plied between Sarikei and Igan River (note: Sibu is at confluence of Rejang and Igan River) and further upriver till Lasa (Lassa) River (another river that intersects Rejang River) . At that time, other motor boats that plied these rivers include Kwong He Leong 廣和隆, later Zhen Ping 振平 and Li Min 利民.

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. (source: Lidasar)

Toot! Toot! Toot!


Sources:
1) Article: Interview with 張武祥 who came to Sarikei in 1927.

6 comments:

Daniel Yiek said...

I'm pretty pleased with the collaboration of the readers in the last 2 posts. I didn't plan to blog on Qing Ming festival again but reader Halamanku sent in some pictures that triggered some ideas. Then Ikan Sembilang recall a news clip he read and emailed me. Now we have 2 extra posts that were never planned.

My Chinese is not great but I managed to translate the simplified Chinese slowly - I had a tough time with the names but I think I did a reasonable job of translating. Pls help correct any translation mistake. :)

sarawakiana said...

Do you think Qiu Bing Nong was connected with Khoo Peng Loong of Sibu Fame? Same person?

Need to verify the Chinese names and birth dates.

Ikan Sembilang said...

Sarawakiana,

Welcome to Sarikei Time Capsule ! I am sure you will find the Sarikei history is as interesting as that of Sibu. Yes, 邱炳农 was the famed Khoo Peng Loong from Sibu. But how did a prominent person from Sibu get himself involved in the application of cemetery land in Sarikei is indeed a mystery. My guess is that most likely Khoo Peng Loong was English-educated.陳伟 and林昭邊 must have sought his assistance to draft the letter of application to the government.

Daniel,

Sarawakiana has done a great post on the forts built by the Brookes in the various towns in Sarawak. If you are interested, you may wish to visit her blog at http://sarawakiana.blogspot.com/
There is, however, very little information on Sarikei Fort. What a pity!

Daniel Yiek said...

All
Pls note that most English names in this post are the hanyin pinyin names, not the actual English names which are usually the literal dialect translation.

lidasar said...

Wow this is great, names that I mentioned earlier are appearing all over. Some of you actually know Chan Wei's famous son-in-law the late Temanggung Chou Pak Ming of the 1980s. Is Qiu Bing Non @ Khoo Peng Loong the Beng Lung whom I mentioned earlier? Beng Lung was the Kapitan before Chan Ko Ming and was trusted by the Brook's administration for his non-Chinaman style. Unlike the other early migrants Beng Lung came to Sarikei with his parents from Indonesia. His mother was a stylish lady whom enjoys Mahjong. Beng Lung started Kong Con Mau at No. 8 Wharf Road and had a license to sale hunting guns. Beng Lung was the developer of the two blocks, the one on Bank Rd nearest to the old wet market and the block behind which is the block on Repok Rd Right. In the early days no one had a radio until Chinese Chamber of Commerce spend five hundred dollar to buy the 1st radio, a Philip and was nicely locked up on level 2 of the Chamber's building. It was a milestone for Sarikei's trades as they need to know the latest price of commodities such as pepper. No one would have the confident to tune the Radio then and Beng Lung would be the one entrusted to do the job. Now can you imagine the sight of all the big Towkays surrounding Beng Lung and the Philip radio anxiously on a daily basis?

In those old days whom would you seek opinion, advice or assistant. The Cantonese will turn to wise man of old Sarikei and in English term you might call them the "Sage"”. Old Sage Seng, Sage Tat and Sage Gok. These are the three wise man of old Sarikei, coincidentally they are into rubber farming instead of planting pepper as what majority of the Cantonese does. Take for example Sage Seng, he send his sons to China to obtain their education and his offspring are some of the most educated. When you have a problem within your community you would probably need the help of Sage Seng and when you run into problem involving the law you would probably seek the help of Sage Tat. Sage Tat had very long beard that reaches the belly button. Sage Tat had a daughter that started one of the earliest hair saloon 红玫瑰in town. No joke, in the old days we play by the old rule. Who would need a lawyer?

Daniel Yiek said...

More on Khoo Peng Loong

http://www.theborneopost.com/?p=30315

From marshland to busy business centre
By Philip Wong


FEW people here nowadays know that Jalan Khoo Peng Long was once a stretch of marshland opposite the Tua Pek Kong Temple.

The marshland was separated from the town by one of several streams gushing into the Lembangan River, a tributary of the Rajang River flowing adjacent to Jalan Channel and ending somewhere along Jalan Tiong Hua (popularly known here as Red River).

Another tributary, starting from Jalan Channel, cuts through Jalan Kampung Nyabor before ending up at the Sibu Town Square.

Basically, the river splits Sibu into three parts — the hugh marshland, Sibu Island (presently Jalan Island area) and mainland Sibu (opposite the Lembangan River).

There is also a small isolated island, known as Pulau Babi, washed by a third and smaller tributary of the Lembangan River. Due to its close proximity to the Rajang River, the island once served as place for slaughtering pigs.

It is believed that people back then showed little concern for the health and hygiene problems caused by this activity. Just any place they could find near the riverbank would do, especially with water readily available for washing and cleaning. Moreover, the river was a convenient place to dump carcasses.

Everyday, pigs were taken across a wooden bridge to the island to be slaughtered. This bridge, linking Jalan Khoo Peng Loong to Jalan Channel, has since been upgraded.

Once on the island, the pigs were kept in an abattoir and after slaughter, would be sent back to the market on mainland Sibu. Over time, the island became known to the locals as Pulau Babi or Pig Island.

“The island is not particularly big — about the size of a football field,” recalled 68-year-old retired businessman Soon Choon Hoo.

Together with his friends after school each day, he would paddle a sampan from his house at Jalan Long Bridge to Sibu town.

Normally, it took about 30 minutes to reach the town. Along the way, they passed the marshland and Pulau Babi.

Soon said they would also gather floating timber logs and brought them back home for firewood.

“I could also remember there was a big tree somewhere along Lembangan River where we used to play Tarzan,” he added.

Soon never ventured into Pulau Babi because of the “very muddy” land there.

“By the 1950’s, the island was more or less isolated. People no longer slaughtered pigs there. We also heard stories that the island could be infested with snakes and poisonous insects … so we kept our distance.”

Towards the late 1950’s, Soon, still a schoolboy then, said the area underwent tremendous development and businesses were thriving on the marshland following the construction of two rows of 24 shophouses there by the Borneo Development Corporation.

Under Phase One, 11 two-storey shophouses were built in 1963 and completed two years later. Phase II which started in 1968, was completed in 1970.

Subsequently, the area experienced a business boom, transforming the once shunned marshland into a place of trade and commerce which, in the 1970’s and 80’s, was reputed to be one of the busiest areas in Sibu.

Everyday, warehouses, offices and other government buildings at the place were buzzing with loading and unloading activities.

During those days, the area also served as a busy shipping transit centre and the business hub for the central region (then known as Sibu Division).

But how did the place come to be associated with the name Khoo Peng Loong? A look at the lifetime achievements of the man will shed some light.

Khoo was a close family friend of Soon’s father. They co-owned a business called Peng Guan Distillery Factory. Khoo was the board of directors chairman while Soon’s father, the director.

Soon himself knows very little about Khoo other than he was a popular public figure and an entrepreneur with a pleasant personality.

According to his biography extracted from the Sarawak Chinese Cultural Association, Khoo was also a friendly and approachable politician who worked very hard for the various communities in Sibu.

Born in Sarikei, English-educated Khoo began his political career as early as the 1950’s. His hospitality and down-to-earth attitude in serving the public was believed to be behind his huge popularity with all the communities in Sarikei and in Sibu.

In 1959, together with 35 people, he co-founded the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP). The Sibu branch was only officially registered on June 21, 1959, and he was elected its vice-chairman.

In 1963, the Sarawak government held its triennial election on a three tier-system — district level, divisional level and the Legislative Council.

There were then 24 district and urban councils in Sarawak and 429 councillors would be elected to fill all the tiers.

From the 24 councils, represented by the 429 councillors, 109 would be elected to sit in the five Divisional Advisory Councils. The 36 Legislative Council members were, in turn, elected by the five Divisional Advisory Councils.

Khoo represented the SUPP and won the councillor’s post for the second zone of the Sibu Urban District Council (SUDC) when he defeated Ling Beng Siew, chairman of the Sarawak Chinese Association (SCA). Following his victory, Khoo was appointed SUDC chairman — a post he held till 1964 when he was appointed a Federal Member of Parliament for Sibu.

In 1965, Sarawak held its first combined State and Federal elections and Khoo, standing on the SUPP ticket, convincingly won both seats as Repok assemblyman and Sibu MP.

SUPP was an opposition party at the time and it allowed its candidate to contest both state and parliamentary seats during the election.

Capturing both seats was a very rare feat at that time. And for Khoo, popularity came at a heavy price as his political nemesis began plotting his downfall.

However, Khoo stood firm against the allegations hurled at him. His standing as a good leader among the people helped pull him through.

He always believed that to move forward, SUPP members must remain united, speak with one voice and push forward with one principle.

Once, he reportedly told party members that any disagreement among them must be discussed openly to help the party leaders reach a consensus.

As the party grew from strength to strength, the colonial government began putting pressure on it.

Towards the late 1960’s, many of its members defected. Khoo was also approached to quit the party but he did not budge.

By 1974, with age catching up, he became less active in politics. In 1976, to show its appreciation for Khoo’s contributions, the Sibu Urban District Council renamed Pulau Babi Road Jalan Khoo Peng Loong.

Khoo passed away in 1979.

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