Wednesday, May 28, 2008

People - Cantonese Kapitan Chen Ko Ming (1922-2005). Part 2.

An 85-year-old man who used to work as a goldsmith apprentice for 7 years (for $1 per day after World War II) at 廣合興 Kong Hup Heng (No 5 Wharf Road) remembered Chen Ko Ming. He said Mr Chen Ko Ming was a fearless leader who organised the hartal in protest of the increase in trade licence fees. Some people were afraid to join Chen Ko Ming for fear of eviction from Sarawak by the British authorities but he told them that they had more right to stay in Sarawak than the British. This apprentice later started a goldsmith cum retail store at Fong Seng at No. 21 Wharf Road (Updated). (Source: an email from this old man's daughter to the Chen family)

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming
1964: Awarded Pengawai Bintang Sarawak (PBS)
1967: Awarded Ahli Mangku Negara (AMN)
Source: Ease Chen

During his time as Cantonese kapitan of Sarikei, he helped to build a hospital (the first Sarikei Hospital (now demolished) at the Nyelong Hawker Centre which sells meat) and bridges. After the successful 1955 trade hartal against the colonial government, he became the President of the new Cantonese Association in 1955 where he served for 20 years. He was also the Chairman of the Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Superintendent of Sarikei High School (Sekolah Tinggi) and a committee member of the Board of Methodist Anglo Chinese School. This is just to name a few roles from his impressive resume.

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming (Age 70s) in Canada
Source: Ease Chen

When the Chartered Bank set up a branch in Sarikei in 1957 at Block 5 Right of Repok Road, Chen Ko Ming became the manager. The bank later moved to the newer Block 6 Right of Repok Road (opposite the current Rex location), then to Berjaya Road next to Ah Kow's Hung Kiew Kee Restaurant and finally to the new shop at Masjid Lama Road (opposite Hong Kong Photo Studio). His brother, Chen Ko Ping, quit the police force and joined him at SCB as a banker too. You may recall him counting your coins and notes.

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming (Age 70s) with wife in CanadaSource: Ease Chen

Chen Ko Ming quit Standard Chartered Bank in 1965 to join politics. He was sent to England for a study tour of the politics there in 1965 (typo in the news clips, it's not 1955). He served as a member of the State Council and later as a Member of Parliament in 1970. In 1972, he and his family moved to Kuching where he worked as a manager at Hock Tai Finance Corporation.

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming's 80th Birthday in CanadaSource: Ease Chen

In 1977, he, his wife and 2 daughters migrated to Vancouver, Canada. Two other daughters joined him later. He served actively at the Evangelical Chinese Bible Church where he often visited new comers and organised summer activities for seniors. It's no surprise that he became the Chairman of the Cantonese Association there.

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming
From: Who's Who in Malaysia 1971
Read his impressive resume here. Don't faint!
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.Source: Ease Chen

Sarikei Chen Ko MingRead about the 1955 trade hartal hereClick to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.Source: Ease Chen

In 1997, Chen Ko Ming was involved in an serious car accident that left him paralyzed and wheel chair bound. He suffered numerous infections after that and the last of which he succumbed to on 20 November 2005.

Sarikei Chen Ko MingClick to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.Source: Ease Chen

Sarikei Chen Ko MingClick to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.Source: Ease Chen

Sarikei Chen Ko MingClick to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.Source: Ease Chen

Sarikei Chen Ko Ming (1922-2005)Source: Ease Chen

Chen Ko Ming was one of the most famous and decorated sons of Sarikei. I would not be surprised if Sarikei named a road after him for his contribution to Sarikei.


Ikan Sembilang said...


Interesting posts on Kapitan Chen Ko Ming, who would always be remembered by Sarikeians for his courage in initiating the 1955 state-wide Trade Hartal. Your posts on famous sons of Sarikei will not be complete without including Chong Siew Fai, the former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak. I’ll e-mail you some old photos of him that you may find useful for your next post.
While back in Sarawak recently, I manged to find a few old pics/photos and newspaper articles about Sarikei that you may find interesting. One article that will be of great interest to all Sarikeians tells how Hokkien Chinese from the villages in the Haichang district of Xiamen (福建省厦门市海沧区 or previously known as 三都 during Qing Dynasty ) came to settle in Sarikei in the early 1860’s and built attap houses/shops on the bank of the Rejang River alongside the Malay/Melanau houses. There is also a old pic of Bruas, a 957-ton cargo ship owned by the Sarawak Steamship Company, which transported rubbber and pepper from Sarikei to Singapore in the 40’s and 50’s. The pic will be of particular interest to Nelson as the ship, according to a 76-year-old Sarikei denizen, was captained by his maternal grandfather.
I’ll make copies of these photos and articles and send them to you as soon as they are ready.

Hi Tuan Lokong,
Never know that ikan sembilang likes to eat kamats. That’s really news to me! Had I known it when I was a kid, I would have used them as baits for catching ikan sembilang from the Rejang River. Apart from playing guli and flying kites, fishing for ikan sembilang was my other great pastime in my childhood days in Sarikei.
On the muddy bank of the Rejang River in front of the Sarikei town, there are a lot of kamats that are different from the kamats with two red pincers used for making kamat sauce as described by Daniel and Sarawakiana. The Rejang River kamat has a huge fiddle-shaped pincer and is, therefore, appropiately known as fiddle kamat. Howerver, to the locals it is known, rather strangely, as Jepun kamat. Do you or anyone knows what have the Japanese got to do with this species of kamat?!

Selamat Ari Gawai Dayak 2008
Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai Lantang Senang

lidasar said...

Correction needed, 廣合興 Kong Hup Heng is at No 5 wharf Road. The goldsmith apprentice who started his goldsmith cum trading was at No.21 Wharf Rd and the name of the shop was Fong Seng. The 2nd shop counting from old Kwang Lee Bank (Old police station). $1 was substantial then, those working as daily rated helping in the rubber or pepper farm was paid as low as 30 cents.

Interesting input by ikan sembilang , yes recalling the European captain of the cargo ship Bruas who was attached to the boss of earliest hair saloon 红玫瑰 (Red Rose), the saloon boss had two older sons fathered by another British who was the District Officer of the then town.

Daniel Yiek said...

Ikan Sembilang,
Rec'd the old pics of Chong Siew Fai with thanks!

I suspect the Jepun kamat is nicknamed after the World War II Japanese head choppers.

Good catch on the typo of 2 Repok Rd (as rec'd in an email) vs the correct 21 Repok Rd (Fong Seng). Now we have a nice story on that shop and I have updated the Block 4 Wharf Rd post too.

This 85-year-old man went back to China for a few months before coming back to Sarikei to start the goldsmith cum retail shop (according to the email from his daughter)

T-MO-T said...

yo daniel...
if u happen do read this comment...

i will be going to Sarikei tomorrow..
driving there...

we can meet up for at chat...
and mostly i will be in AH CHENGS stall...
will be in sarikei till tuesday..


Daniel Yiek said...

I make my living in Singapore and will not be in S'kei next week. Enjoy your fried noodles!

T-mo-T or other S'kei based folks,
Can you take pictures of the new hotel at No.1 Bank Road, upstairs from former Eastern Cafe, facing teh clock tower? If possible, take pics of the rooms. I like to do a blog post on this and compare to the old pics.

Daniel Yiek said...

The legendary Ah Kow from Hung Kiew Kee restaurant passed away on Sat in Kuching from pneumonia. He's about 77 years old.

Another 80-year-old, Mr Ng, a big guy who used to work at the 2nd Sarikei hospital's pharmacy has passed away today from a hit and run accident in Kuching Rock Rd.

Both were my ex-classmates' dad. Deepest condolences to them....

lidasar said...

Condolences to the family of Sarikei's legendary Iron chef Ah Kow of Hung Kiew Kee restaurant.

Remembering him from the days as a young man working for early Foochow restaurant Man Nan Lou at No.22 Repok Rd before starting out with his dad Mr.Fong Kiew Kee at No.9 Repok Rd (馮球記酒樓) and later shifted to the present location and passed on to his son.

Without question the greatest chef of Sarikei that is both extraordinary and unmatched. The climax of all celebration almost always ended up at a table prepared by our favorite chef, Sarikei's style.

Nelson said...

wow i didnt know that he was captain, will ask my mum. my grandma(maternal side)'s first husband was killed during the early second world war when his plane from Java(i think Jakarta) to England was shot down by the Japs.

condolences to Ah Kow and Mr.Ng(used to be my dad's colleague) families.

Sim Y said...

So it is true that Ah Kow has passed away.

Many happy moments have been held in Ah Kow restaurant, inlcuding my brother's wedding.

Most probably 2 of the moat recognised and popular figures in my time have passed away in the same year. One is Dr. Yap.

lidasar said...

Chen Ko Ming's contemporaries who studied in Singapore and probably know each other well were the adopted son of Cantonese Kapitan Chan Wei 陳偉 and also one Foochow Kapitan son from Binatang by the name 林理化 born 1921. When the Japanese attack Singapore Ko Ming manage to find his way back to Sarikei by the help of smaller boat. It was heard that Chan Wei's son joined a resistance movement that fight against the Japanese and he was lost without any trace, a hero from Sarikei. Of course Chan Wei got another adopted daughter who was a teacher and married to the late Temanggung Chou Pak Ming of the 1980s. 林理化did not return to Binatang either where his dad was the owner of a prominent 五金 business. He sold rojak by the road side to survive the war and left a remarkable career setting up business that help to network his family business in Sarawak that almost monopolize marine engineering and parts. 林理化 is not only successful in business but the most prominent Foochow community leader in Singapore Foochow Association. If you could catch up with him in Singapore I am sure he could recall the days in Binatang and also his friendship with Ko Ming.

Related Posts with Thumbnails