Sunday, May 25, 2008

People - Cantonese Kapitan Chen Ko Ming. Part 1

Sarikei Chen Mong 1879-1939
Chen Ko Ming's father
Source: Ease Chen
(his daughter)

Chen Ko Ming 陳高明 was one of the most prominent Sarikei personalities. His father, Chen Mong 陳梦 came from Xin Hui 新會 (county level city) of Jiangmen 江門 (prefecture city level) in the Guangdong 廣東 province of South Eastern China. Chen Mong was an active member of the Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming (left), 1930s
Source: Ease Chen

Chen Mong had 12 children. He remarried after his first wife passed away.

*1st Sister: Chen Yuk Lang (deceased)
* 2nd Sister: Chen Swee Nong (now in Kuching)
* 3rd Bro: Chen Tong Seng (deceased)
* 4th Bro: Chen Ko Ming (deceased)
* 5th Bro: Chen Ko Chung (now in Canada)
* 6th Bro: Chen Ko Ping (deceased in Sarikei)
* 7th Bro: Chen Ko Ting (now in Kuching)
* 8th Bro: Chen Gao Hua ( Now in China; physician)
* 9th Bro: Chen Chee Hian (Now in Canada; dentist)

I have missed out 2 other brothers and 1 sister.

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming, 1930s
Source: Ease Chen

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming as a teenager, 1930s
Source: Ease Chen

Chen Mong and his family operated 廣合興 Kong Hup Heng (No. 5 Wharf Road, Block 1). It did great business as a goldsmith, pawn shop cum grocery shop. Later it expanded its grocery business to No. 6 Wharf Road (1st shop in the next block, Block 2) after World War II but it was short lived. No. 5 Wharf Road is now a kopitiam (coffee shop) under the same name.

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming 1930 (Left), 1950 (Right)
Chen Ko Ming (extreme L), bro Chen Tong Seng (extreme R)
Source: Ease Chen

Their goldsmith shop hired two Mr. Lee's, one of which later started his own goldsmith shop (the now-defunct Wing Shun 永信) at No. 14 Repok Road at Block 3 Right, and the other Mr. Lee is a current town elder whom everyone fondly calls 四公. (source: Reader Lidasar)

Sarikei Kwang Chien School old boys 1938
bro Chen Tong Sen, L5 Chua Wei Ming 蔡偉明,L6 Lim Boo Tiong林武忠,L7 Chen Ko Ming
Source: Ease Chen

The mother of Chen Gao Hua & Chee Hian provided midwife childbirth services. The shop Kong Hup Heng had a sign board advertising this service. Some of your grandmothers was probably assisted by her during childbirth. She was the sister of the goldsmith, Mr.Lee of Wing Shun. (source: Reader Lidasar)

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming and Ling Bee Ing
20 Aug 1953
Source: Ease Chen

Chen Ko Ming was born on 17 March, 1922 in Sarikei. At age 6, he went with his 3rd brother to study in Singapore for 1 year. At 11, he went to China to study. However, due to the Sino-Japanese war, he had to return to Sarikei after 7 years in China.

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming with daughters. 1960s
Source: Ease Chen

In 1939, he went to Kuching to study at St Thomas School. After 2 years there, he pursued Senior High English at Singapore Seventh Day Adventist Seminary. The World War II disrupted his studies again. The Japanese occupation of Singapore forced him to return to Sarikei by sailboat, which took 14 days. He planted rice in Sarikei during the war. After the war, he and his 3rd brother carried on the shop's business of their late father.

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming, 1960s-1970s
2nd from left.
Source: Ease Chen

Chen Ko Ming succeeded Khoo Peng Loong 邱炳浓 as the Sarikei Cantonese kaiptan (headman). Khoo Peng Loong 邱炳浓 was the Cantonese kapitan after Chan Wei 陳偉. (Updated).

In 1953, Chen Ko Ming was baptised. In the same year, he married his sweetheart, Ling Bee Ing.

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming, 1970s
Seated 2nd from right.
Seated 3rd from right was Tun Abdul Razak.
Source: Ease Chen

On 25 Dec 1954, a group of businessmen led by the politically astute Chen Ko Ming, met at Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce. They decided to close all shops in Sarikei for the first ten days of 1955 in protest against the colonial government's exorbitant trade licence fees. All major towns in Sarawak decided to follow the hartal. (Hartal means closing of shops and stopping of work as a protest). The colonial government gave in and allowed license fees to be paid by installments, set up a committee to examine revising the fees on 7 Jan and accepted its recommendations on 13 Jan 1955.

As they say, the rest is history.


Daniel Yiek said...

I just finished part 2 of Chen Ko Ming's bio. Now Blogger has a feature that will auto post on the scheduled date. :)

When you read thru his impressive resume in the news clips, you will be shocked by the number of posts he held. From the Chinese Chamber of Commerce to Taxi Association to Basketball Association, etc.

People like Chen Ko Ming, Chong Siew Fa and Rottinghuis should be honoured more for their contribution to Sarikei and Sarawak. I'm looking for Chong Siew Fa's bio. My link to his bio at the Sarawak Legal website does not work anymore as I'm not a member. Can anyone help? I have a lawyer classmate in Kuching which may be able to help but he seldom read emails!

lidasar said...

Need some correction, Chen Ko Ming succeeded Khoo Peng Loong 邱炳浓 as the Sarikei Cantonese kaiptan (headman). Chan Wei 陳偉 was the Cantonese Kapitan before Khoo Peng Loong 邱炳浓.

If my calculation is correct Khoo Peng Loong & Chen Ko Ming joined SUPP when it was first incepted but only Peng Loong stay with the party until death where as Ko Ming left to join Sa Hua. Sa Hua was the party formed by Tan Sri Datuk Amar Ling Beng Siew who is the son of Ling Zie Ming of Sibu. Mind you the Ling are the earliest millionaire from Sibu with business interest in Banking (Hock Hua Bank) and timber under KTS. You could even find a school in the name of Ling Zie Ming in Sibu, not sure if the school last till today. If I am correct Sa Hua got the inspiration from Tun Tan Cheng Lok's Ma Hua which is MCA of course and the aim is to keep the business interest growing within the business leader. When Tunku first started the idea "Malaysia" it was Sa Hua that worked round the clock to make it happen, SUPP was in the opposition then. Sa Hua was completely clean washed when Sarawak held it 1st election after joining Malaysia and thus the balance of power was shifted to SUPP who eventually could not resists the temptation of power and money, who does anyway.

You have a great collection of photos. If I am correct Ling Bee Ing (Mrs.Chen) was from Sibu, not that I know is connected to Tan Sri Datuk Amar Ling Beng Siew.

Daniel Yiek said...

Thanks for the correction on the sequence of the kapitan's.

Ease Chen also emailed some black n white 1960s-1970s pics of Chen Ko Ming but I dont know how to use them yet till I have done more research into the politics of S'wak.

Stay tuned for Part 2. Lots of news clips.

I rec'd the article of Chong Siew Fai from my ex-classmate (lawyer) today. I'm contacting his relatives to get old pictures.

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