Sunday, July 20, 2008

Scenes - Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Part 2

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Oct 2007
Find the inscription of the year "Min Kuo 29" 民國二九 on the right

One of the most easily recognised building in Sarikei is the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. It was completed in 1940 based on the inscription on its building. It shows Min Kuo 29 民國二九 which is 1911 + 29 = 1940. (The year follows Dr. Sun Yat Seng’s revolution in 1911). Before this, it was housed in a wooden shophouse (click label below to see the rare 1937 picture)

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce

This undated picture from a hotel wall is likely from 1950s because the tree in front was about the same size as the 1955 District Council picture.

The main contractor of this building was a Cantonese and his son-in-law, the finest craftsman in those days. Before the current renovation, there was noticeable damage at the original cement floor and arch at the side of the building. The place resembled the aftermath of an earthquake in the 1970s because there was no steel reinforcement in the cement floor when it was first built (steel was not available then) and the soft ground did not help either. (source: reader Lidasar)

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce. 1960s?
Source: Sarawak in Pictures 1940-1970s, Ho Ah Chon
(This famous Kuching photographer passed away last year)

This building was left to nature to run its course in the 1960s-1990s and was used for many purposes including free vaccinations (smallpox, cholera, etc), taichi lessons and Chinese chess competitions. (Source: Reader Kanga).

This was a far cry from its glory days in the 1940s and 1950s where the top Chinese businessmen came to meet and network. Folks registered their marriage there in the old days. The 1955 trade hartal was hatched here and the 1955 Sarikei District Council was based on the ground floor.

Most of you have fond memories of this building next to the old basketball stadium (now demolished). The caretaker (fondly nicknamed as Q-mo for his curly hair) of the stadium lived in the building in the 1970s. The toilets there were in bad shape because of the huge human traffic from the stadium. The building was renovated in the early 2000s (2003?)

Sarikei Chinese Chamber of Commerce, 2006
What's the mystery of this warehouse next to it?

One of the most prominent Foochow immigrant was Mr. Wong Koh Chiong黃可川 from No.1 Wharf Road and he used the trade name Thong Aik 通益. In the early days before 1935, your grandfathers would head down to the small warehouse beside the Chinese Chamber of Commerce to buy kerosene from the Wongs. They would use the manual pump to draw the kerosene from a container into your bottle. They later started the first petrol kiosk in Sarikei, Shell, in front of No. 1 Wharf Road. (Source: reader Lidasar). This warehouse is still used to store goods.The warehouse used to store rice from Thailand. Surprisingly, there was not even a rat in it. Why? A few pythons were later found inside!

So you see, this warehouse was not a haunted house as some of you would have thought as a kid. I was one of those kids.


Daniel Yiek said...

A reader notified me in the Rentap post that his movie is on the way!

Rentap the movie in the making
By Anthony Aga

Production company says movie should be in cinemas by end of next year if all goes well
SARIKEI: A film featuring the legendary Iban warrior, Rentap, is now in the making.

If the effort of the production company, Audio Master Sdn Bhd, goes as planned, the film should be in cinemas by the end of next year.
Audio Masters Sdn Bhd’s film crew comprising the managing director Abdul Rahman Daud, executive director, Roslee Sako, stunt director Norazmi Hassan, and financial controller Melawati Yahya are in town.

They are almost done with the final preparations and it won’t be long before the actual filming.
Roslee, who spent a while with The Borneo Post and thesundaypost, said their main task at the moment was more on research – gathering as much information as possible on Rentap by interviewing elderly Ibans and received stories passed down by their ancestors.

The information gathered would be “tuned up” to ensure consistency; ridding them of contradictions as observed in the different versions by historians; and as a measure to avoid mistakes which could adversely affect the quality of the movie.

An area of great concern is culture as they don’t want any misrepresentations that could offend the Ibans. “We must be very careful when dealing with the culture of any community because it is a sensitive matter,” he said.
“A mistake in the presentation of a community’s culture or customs can be very costly. One sure thing is condemnation from the community, which would be contrary to our original objective of highlighting their hero for the appreciation of the new generations,” he said.
In this particular respect, Roslee expressed his gratitude to the longhouse people who had been helpful during their weeks of research.

It was with their co-operation that the crew gathered information from genuine sources to form a version of Rentap’s story which would not only make them proud but also appealing to those watching the movie.

Among the places that the crew visited were longhouses in Pakan, Julau and Sarikei districts.
These longhouses, including Rumah Anjar, Rumah Jawa and Rumah Sedik, surround the area where Rentap was buried.

The other places were longhouses surrounding Rentap’s last fortress on Bukit Sadok.

Hoping for the best, Roslee said if the movie became successful it would be a source of pride for the Ibans in particular and Malaysians in general.

It would of course be financially beneficial for the company which coincidentally has two Sarawakian directors – Rosmah Rosli and Abdul Razak Abdullah.

Roslee also sees the movie as an indirect way of promoting the colourful culture and history of Sarawak, “which would be a contribution to the development of our tourism industry”.

In short, making the movie is like killing several birds with one stone.

With the research almost finished, the script, which is undertaken by Roslee himself and Abdul Rahman, is also very close to completion.
The next to be done is a ‘miring’ ceremony at Rentap’s grave in Pakan to fulfil the requirement of an Iban custom.

Roslee said it would be carried out after consulting the community and political leaders.

Hopefully, in November or December, they should be ready to start filming which is estimated to take about three months.

The shooting would be done mainly in Pakan, particularly at Rentap’s grave, nearby longhouses and around Bukit Sadok.

As it is difficult to reach the actual spot where the fortress once stood, an alternative setting had been identified for the fight between Rentap’s men and James Brooke’s soldiers.

The making of Rentap requires an investment of RM8 million which Roslee considers a worthy venture, especially as the target is the world market.

The dialogue is in English and Iban with subtitles in Bahasa Malaysia and English.

Initially when the movie was proposed in 2004 the budget was RM5 million, but after taking into consideration the present state of economy, they increased it, Roslee said after checking the information with Melawati.

During shooting, many locals will be employed either as workers or actors. In fact, locals would make up over 70 per cent of the people involved, according to Roslee.
Abdul Rahman (or Armoda within the film fraternity) is the director assisted by up and coming director, Nahar Akhbar Khan.

While Abdul Rahman is both an actor and director who had been involved in the production of many television dramas and theatre shows, Nahar is young, creative and rich in new ideas.

Roslee believed their combined efforts would make Rentap a hit, both locally and internationally.

45rpm said...

Let us do the counting of this multi purpose building.

- Chinese Chamber of Commerce for meetings & also where they get the commodities price for the chamber's radio in the early days.

- Was where SDC first started in 1995.

- Was a Public Reading Room.

- Was a lodging place for visitors to the town in the early days including the basketball team Nanyang San Pou from Singapore that played our local hero Flying Saucer 飞 碟. Even visiting traders from Singapore and other places had to “Tongpang” at this place. Students and sports team that came to Sarikei used to stay over in this building till probably the 70's.

- Wedding dinner was hold here with food supplied by early Cantonese restaurant of Mr Chou Mei.

- A place to host dinner for incoming and outgoing District Officers in the early days.

- Was also where Tai Chi exercise lesson was conducted, the earliest and most active Tai Chi enthusiasts in the 70s were Mr Chen Tong Seng, Su Hing Lay, Mr.Chua of 金成安 Kim Seng Ang and Mr.Lim (Ah Kuan) the bank manager of Kwang Lee.

- The place where the Family Planning (Pregnancy control) unit had an office, yes you could say the place where women learn to put on condom in Sarikei.

- Vaccination exercise were conducted at this place too.

- The list continue.....

Daniel Yiek said...

Updates on the Sarikei election court case:


Sarawak DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng said he and other party leaders would decide over the next 24 hours whether to file an appeal against the rejection of an election petition filed by its losing candidate Dr Wong Hua Seh in Sarikei.

"We will sit down and decide whether to file the appeal," he told reporters today.

"We have given it our best shot," Wong said when reacting to on election judge Datuk Ian Chin Hon Chong's judgment dismissing the petition filed by Dr Wong seeking to declare the election of Ding Kuong Hiing as null and void.
July 21, 2008 16:13 PM

Ding To Dedicate Himself To Serving Constituents

SIBU, July 21 (Bernama) -- Sarikei Member of Parliament Ding Kuong Hiing is a much relieved man, now that the Election Court decided in his favour over a petition brought up DAP candidate Dr Wong Hua Seh whom he defeated with a simple majority of 51 votes in the general election on March 8.

"I have always had high confidence in the country's judicial system and now justice has been served," he said when met after High Court Judge Datuk Ian Chin delivered his judgement to a packed court here Monday.

Chin, who was not present, had his 23-page judgement delivered by Kota Kinabalu High Court's deputy registrar Zulkifli Abllah.

"Now this has been settled, I can go about doing my duties without any worry.

"There is a lot of work to be done. I hope to spend more time with my constituents," said Ding.

Ding, 53, an engineer, is a former political secretary to the chief minister.

Meanwhile, Dr Wong said he would discuss with his lawyers first before deciding whether to appeal against the court's decision.

In the election for the Sarikei Constituency (P.208), Ding polled 10,588 votes to Dr Wong's 10,537.


Daniel Yiek said...


Reflect On Past Leaders' Struggles, Says Taib

KUCHING, July 22 (Bernama) -- Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is confident that Sarawak's 45th anniversary celebration of its development in Malaysia, which starts today, will be an occasion for all Sarawakians, especially the younger generation, to reflect on the struggles of its past leaders.

He also hoped that it would imbue the people with the spirit of struggle, sacrifice and hard work so that they could move forward to achieve national progress and prosperity.

"July 22 is, indeed, a day of great historical significance for Sarawak and its people. It was on this day 45 years ago that we finally became an independent and sovereign country, the outcome of a struggle that involved much sacrifice of time, energy and lives," he said in his message in conjunction with the launch of the celebration, which will be performed by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng at the State Stadium in Petra Jaya here tonight.

About 300 programmes and activities will be held throughout Sarawak during the year-long celebration to mark the historic event n July 22 1963 when the British handed over the sovereignty of the state to its people and their elected leaders.

Apart from the threat of communism, Taib said, Sarawakians had to also undergo three difficult years of guerrilla war, from 1963-1965, in a campaign known as the Confrontation mounted by a neighbouring country.

However, due to the people's cooperative spirit and willingness to sacrifice to defend the state's independence and sovereignty, they were able to overcome it and prevailed up to today, he said.

"As we all know, today, 45 years ago, the British government handed over the leadership of this land to local leaders who had been elected through a three-tier electoral system, that is, the Local Council, the Divisional Advisory Council and the State legislative Assembly," he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister and Main Organising Committee chairman Tan Sri Alfred Jabu said the objective of the celebration also looked beyond vision 2020, with the implementation of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) to give the state an added advantage in terms of renewable energy in the region.

Before independence, Sarawak was very backward but had progressed by leaps and bounds in many aspects and the celebration was a reminder for the people to face the many challenges, including globalisation, in the years to come, he said when inspecting preparations for tonight's launch.

He urged people from all walks of life to attend the celebration as a show of solidarity, patriotism and gratitude for the fruits of development that they had enjoyed since gaining independence within Malaysia.


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