The other smaller group of Cantonese in Sarikei is the Hakka 客家. Hakka were originally from Central China around the Yellow River and later migrated to Southern China and from there to the rest of the world.
One of the Hakka pioneers in Sarikei was 张乐天. He owned a shop at the row of attap roofed wooden shops at Wharf Road (1910-1920s).
张乐天 was better known as one of the founders and the first principal of Kwang Chien 廣建 primary school. Kwang Chien was started in 1927 by several well known Sarikei denizens including Siaw Ah Khoon (萧南坤) and Chen Mong (陳 梦, father of Chen Ko Ming). (Source: 1)
They borrowed a wooden house from the Cantonese Association (Kwong Wai Siew) to use as the classroom for the first batch of 40 students. Its name was derived from Kwang Dong (Cantonese 廣東) and Foo Chien (福建Hokkien). Later in 1927, the school was moved to a building behind the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. (A rare photo of Kwang Chien School's 1928 graduation will be released soon.)
Standing: L1 劉愛珍, L2 Chong Siew Fai, L3 Peter Chung 鍾添來, L4黃毓基
Sitting: L1 & L2, Mrs and Mr Hii Ing King, L3詹廷方神父 L4王受荃 L5黃廣桃
Chong Siew Fai 许永经 started his teaching career in St. Anthony’s School, Sarikei, in 1952. He was a teacher for 11 years.
First Kwang Lee Bank Cup Inter district Basketball Competition
Lighter singlet = Sarikei. Darker singlet = Sibu.
Find Mr Ling, veteran Kwang Chien teacher (back row, 3rd from right). Now in his 80s.
Siew Fai went to London to pursue his studies in law at Lincoln's Inn in 1962. A huge crowd of friends, colleagues and relatives turned up at the Sarikei Customs Wharf to send him off.
Anthonian teacher, Mr & Mrs Jacob Sebastian, Wong Kwang Soon (Anthonian teacher from 1953 to 1975), Grandpa 张乐天 and Clement Ting were among those in the send-off party.
He was President of the Sarawak Advocates Association from 1975 to 1979. In 1980 to June 1994, Siew Fai served as High Court Judge in Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, and Sibu.
Siew Fai served in the Federal Court for a year. An eulogy of Siew Fai said, during his tenure on the Bench, Siew Fai had contributed immensely to the development of the law and his decisions were highly regarded by legal practitioners for their lucidity, reasoning and grasp of the law. (Source: 2)
He served as Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak from 1995 until 2000. "As a Judge of both state and federal levels, the late Tan Sri Datuk Amar Thomas Chong Siew Fai was very much respected for his dedication to his work and legendary judicial temperament." (Source: 2)
"His patience, humility and sense of fairness in the discharge of his judicial duties have earned him the highest respect and regard from his fellow judges, lawyers, and the parties who appeared before him," the eulogy said. (Source: 2)
Chong Siew Fai passed away at the age of 72 at his house in Jan 2006, after suffering from colon cancer for one and a half years. He underwent 2 major operations in 2004 and 2005. He was survived by his wife Puan Sri Rosalind T'en Yaw Hee, son - Kevin Chong Chieng Yah and three daughters - Chong Yuh Shyan; Chong Yuh Tyn and Chong Yuh Ling. He was buried at Nirvana Memorial Park in Bau after a funeral mass at St Joseph's Cathedral, Kuching. (Source: 2)
Salute to Chong Siew Fai, one of the famous sons of Sarikei that truly made us proud. He left a note below which was discovered after his passing.
SOURCE:- 国际时报 ( International Times ) 26-01-2006
Kuching (25th January 2006)
This touching letter was found in his journal by his family after his death while taking care of his belongings. This self written letter was meant to be read out by him on 4th January on his birthday celebration but his poor health prevented him from doing so. His youngest brother, Siew Yang, read this letter out at his funeral. Below is the content:
"On 11 June 2006, I found that I have cancer. When the doctor announced that my illness has reached a critical stage, this becomes the most difficult and most challenging part of my life. When I was first informed of the news, my first feeling was why did I contract this scary disease? I consider myself a very careful person. How did I get cancer?
But I quickly let go my feelings. I must face the situation. I can not resent myself and others. I must positively face my illness. I continuously encourage myself. I must maintain a stable composure and have confidence in myself.
A lot of people will be negative when told that they have reached the terminal stage of their illness. They will ask "why me?". I didn't. My grieving period was short. I thought about how to arrange for the future of my wife and kids and how to settle things like insurance and housing.
I didn't have time to grieve. I must fight against the disease positively and dauntlessly. But this is not what I can do by myself.
During my illness, the care and concern of all of you has been thousand times more than normal. Normally, you all have been good enough to me. During this illness, I feel even more love. This is so precious.
I am very fortunate. I have a very caring wife, kids, siblings and relatives. They have selflessly helped me get over this period.
My wife has meticulously taken care of me and given me moral support. My children have came back from overseas to visit me. The care and concern of my siblings and friends has given me strength to fight the disease.
I have to thank Dr. Wong who examined me. I wouldn't have known that I had the disease. I also want to thank my good friend, Dr. Chow, who helped to arranged for my treatment at Kuching General Hospital.
Let me convey my heartfelt thanks to everyone again. Your care and support is an incomparable strength to me. Once again and for the last time, I like to say take care to everyone."
Link: Article written by his daughter
1) Reader Ikan Sembilang
2) Bernama, 24 Jan 2006
All pictures submitted by: Ikan Sembilang
Source of all pictures: 小洋