Sunday, August 31, 2008

History - Sarikei Hokkien Pioneers 1864

Who were the first Chinese migrants to come to Sarikei (called Siriki then)? The Hokkiens or the Cantonese? It's well documented that the Foochows came after these 2 dialect groups. Reader Ikan Sembilang took the effort to track down this article archived by Chen Ko Ting, brother of Chen Ko Ming, now in Kuching.

In an interview with 林片登 in 1984, he mentioned that his father 林先慎 came with relatives to Sarikei at the age of 10 in 1864. 林先慎 is the grandfather of 林文欣, the 80+ years old ex-teacher of Kwang Chien school who married the sister of Chong Siew Fai. (updated)


Sarikei Hokkien Pioneer,
Interview with 林片登 in 1987,
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.
Source: Chen Ko Ting,
Submitted by: Ikan Sembilang.


This batch of Hokkien pioneers came from South Eastern China, Fujian 福建 province, Zhangzhou 漳州 prefecture level city, 海澄 HaiDeng county level city (previously known as 三都 SanDu). 1864 was close to August 1861 when Sherip Masahor's rule ended in coastal Sarawak and power was handed over to the Brooke government by Sultan Abdul Mumin. Sherip Masahor was banished to Singapore.

This batch of Hokkien pioneers built 4 attap (nipah palm) houses along Rejang River (at the current Wharf Road) and had Malays as neighbours. They planted crops and raised chickens and ducks. The 4 pioneers were 林先慎, 林先海, 林峇峇 and 林朝陽 (also nicknamed 峇峇).


Sarikei view from Rejang River, 1905


The 4 attap houses were later rebuilt as wooden houses and used to operate shops with the owners and family living at the back of the shops. The back of the shops faced the Rejang River which acted as a natural sewage system and the front facing Wharf Road.

One day a huge snake from the river slithered up the river toilet hole and scared the living daylights out of the occupants. The snake was clobbered. (Source: Mr Ling's family, 80+ years old ex-teacher of Kwang Chien School).


The 4 shops were

  • 新锦成號 owned by 林先慎
  • 恆發號 owned by 林先海
  • 順發號 owned by 林峇峇
  • 锦成號 owned by 林朝陽

Then 2 more wooden shophouses were added:
  • under 新锦成號 owned by 林先慎 => named 金成安 Kim Seng Ang (now at No. 3 Wharf Road);
  • under 恆發號 owned by 林先海 => named 锦福興號 (now at Foo Hin 福興 No. 17 Wharf Road)

Not long later, 8 more wooden shops were built opposite the existing 6 shops:
  • 2 under 新锦成號 owned by 林先慎
  • 2 under 恆發號 owned by 林先海
  • 4 under 順發號 owned by 林峇峇

Later the shops 新锦成號 and 金成安 Kim Seng Ang did import and export business with Singapore via the 2% commission scheme called 九八行 (updated). The Cantonese came later to Sarikei to make a living. The population of Sarikei and the agricutural business grew.

The Brooke government thought that the shops next to the Rejang River at Wharf Road were not safe and requested that new shops be moved inland for long term development. Hence wooden shops along Repok Road were built. Repok Road was then known as the backstreet with Wharf Road known as the front street.

Hey, you, yes you, the backstreet boys!

============================

泗里街最早商店追憶
八四叟
林片登 親筆

家父林先慎,祖籍中国福建省漳训海澄縣三都,生于清咸豐五年即公元一八五四年。渠幼年隨鄉親抵泗里街時,年谨十歲。當時11公元一 八六四年,彼等白製(亞荅)屋,與馬来人毗*而居,以種菜养鸡鸭为生。该(亞荅)屋計四间,为先父及三位漳泉*同鄉所有。查三位前輩一稱林先海,一稱峇峇,另一位亦稱(峇峇),却未明其姓氏也。四间(亞荅)屋圴築干今泗坡市區靠拄讓江边,以后用木板改建,才开始做生意,並有店號爲新鍠成(屬林先慎), 恒發(屬林先海), 順發 (屬林峇峇), 另一間錦成號則屬只稱 (峇峇) 者. 饑之璯建店屋二間, 一乃屬新錦成號所攘有, 分設爲今之金成安號, 另一屬恒發號, 也分設爲今之錦稫興號也. 未幾又擴建一排木料店屋計八間, 位于前六間之對面, 而兩排店鬥相望. 八間新店屋中, 新錦成號又拥有兩間, 恒發號亦有二間, 餘四間皆屬順發號. 至此, 廣東, 間清屬諸同胞陸續抵泗玻謀生, 於是人口及農商業曰見進展薘勃. 新錦成與金成安二聯號爲, 發展業務, 直接同新加坡(九八行) 進行出入口貿易. 後因白人(拉者) 政府, 認爲店屋傾斜江邊, 爲求安全及永久着想,乃命遷往内陸俗稱(後街) (即目前市區中心) 發展, 巿况遂益形改觀且興盛矣.

10 comments:

Daniel Yiek said...

http://www.theborneopost.com/?p=40722

Allocations promised must be forthcoming, says Wong


KUCHING: Allocations promised in Budget 2009 must be forthcoming, stressed Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh.
Citing Sarawak’s trunk road, which connects an estimated 5,000 villages, Wong lamented that development has been “implemented in a rather piecemeal manner”.
“Since the Sixth Malaysia Plan (6MP), it had been planned for Sarawak to have a dual-carriage way trunk road,” he told thesundaypost in a phone interview yesterday.
“It has not been turned into a major highway. The upgrading is implemented in a rather piecemeal manner. So whatever is announced in this budget must be forthcoming.”
An allocation of RM3.3 billion was announced on Friday to develop Sarawak’s rural area infrastructure.
The PM, in his speech, said 230km of federal roads and rural roads would be built.
“We need all the allocations we can get and I hope the RM3.3 billion is well spent,” Wong said.
“We’ve already reached the 9MP… and our infrastructure is still lagging behind.”
Just recently, The Borneo Post spoke to members of the public regarding the trunk road. Most agreed that the network was lacklustre, but some also suggested that toll roads could expedite development.
Asked regarding this yesterday, the Second Finance Minister disagreed.
“No, this (toll roads) is not realistic. The money for a proper highway must come from the federal government,” Wong said.
“Our state does not have enough population to make toll roads viable.”
Elaborating, he also said that the in-progress coastal highway was crucial to Sarawak’s economy.
Nonetheless, Wong said that, overall, Budget 2009 was an “excellent” one because it sought to fight inflation while at the same time, to sustain the economy’s growth.
On education, the Sarawak United People’s Party deputy secretary-general said allocations for schools should be based on needs, and not whether a school was fully government funded or aided.
“I fully support Ghani’s suggestion,” Wong said, referring to Sarawak Teacher’s Union president, William Ghani, who had made a similar proposition on Friday.
“There should not be any kind of discrimination when it comes to education. Our country badly needs to develop human resources.”
Added Wong: “There is no country in this world that is financially rich but educationally poor.
“The government has to give allocations to schools where help is needed — fairly.”
On whether he felt the budget was a ‘Welfare Budget’ — some quarters have made similar criticisms, saying that the budget would not spur the slowing economy — Wong said:
“Yes it is ‘welfare’ a bit, but you must know that the budget has to help relieve financial burden. I also see a lot of allocations made for improving things like public transportation and encouraging small and medium enterprises. All in all, it’s balanced.”
On food safety, Wong said that the abolition of import duty for pesticides and fertilizers was another good move.
“This will not only help farmers but also help keep food prices in check.”

Nelson said...

i think hokkiens founded sibu too, which one first? sibu or sarikei? or belawai or 'rajang' first?

Daniel Yiek said...

I don't have the direct answer to your question but there are some good history books on Chinese migrants in Sarawak. These books don't cover Sarikei migrant history well though. From the following info, looks like Chinese went to Sibu before Sarikei.

According to the book I have on hand, Sibu Chinese History Collection 詩巫華族史科集, 1992 edition, the earliest Hokkien and Cantonese graveyard was established in 1867.


Other info that I have blogged before:

By 1859, Charles Brooke noted that some Chinese have settled in Kanowit. Kanowit was a more important town than Sibu in the 1850s-early 1870s because it was a government base to monitor the Kanowit River mouth against the Ibans. Hokkiens started coming from Singapore to set up shops in Kanowit in early 1870s. Hokkiens moved up Rejang River and by 1877, Kapit had 20 Chinese shops. In 1871, Sibu had 60 shops. Belaga had 36 shops by 1902.

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.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that before these chinese settlements, there might have been chinese coming to trade with the longhouse folks on a regular basis

45rpm said...

This is a great piece of the oldest record that by far is the most informative and I agree that the 林 are the earliest Hokkien in Sarikei. Painstakingly retype so that it is easier to read & print for old folks to reconfirm and also to bring out more old memory. Please feel free to edit if you spot any mistake.

林片登 use to run the shop 新锦成號 at 2nd block Repok Rd middle shop when it was completed in the mid 1930s till the late 1940s trading in items popular with Ibans such as salted fish, Balacan etc. 新锦成號 than moved to No 3 Bank Rd where 五和號now occupying and later shifted to 5th Block Repok Left 3rd shop rented from 金成安. Mr 林片登spot a full head of white hair early in life & I guess this passes on to his sons too, he has two sons one of who is 林文欣 the ex-teacher of Kwang Chien 廣建. The wife passed away early and he didn't remarry. Sharing the other half of the shop is 錦發 owned by 林天華 whom could be related to 林片登. 錦發 later moved to 3rd block Repok Right 3rd shop and the business was later interrupted with the passing of 林天華. Some of you might know the son of 林天華whom is called Ah Do the Forrest Gump of Sarikei. 林天華 attended one of the earliest batch in Kwang Chien 廣建 and so he took classes above the wooden shop house.

九八行 is not a company name but a trade name where the trader get a commission of 2%. 泉成is the Singapore company owned by Hokkien family that specialize in 九八行 that trade very early and establish good network with Sarikei's Towkays. The shop 泉成 is somewhere opposite Lou Pa Sat and long been demolished.

泗里街最早商店追憶
八四叟
林片登 親筆

家父林先慎,祖籍中国福建省漳训海澄縣三都,生于清咸豐五年即公元一八五四年。渠幼年隨鄉親抵泗里街時,年谨十歲。當時11公元一 八六四年,彼等白製(亞荅)屋,與馬来人毗*而居,以種菜养鸡鸭为生。该(亞荅)屋計四间,为先父及三位漳泉*同鄉所有。查三位前輩一稱林先海,一稱峇峇,另一位亦稱(峇峇),却未明其姓氏也。四间(亞荅)屋圴築干今泗坡市區靠拄讓江边,以后用木板改建,才开始做生意,並有店號爲新鍠成(屬林先慎), 恒發(屬林先海), 順發 (屬林峇峇), 另一間錦成號則屬只稱 (峇峇) 者. 饑之璯建店屋二間, 一乃屬新錦成號所攘有, 分設爲今之金成安號, 另一屬恒發號, 也分設爲今之錦稫興號也. 未幾又擴建一排木料店屋計八間, 位于前六間之對面, 而兩排店鬥相望. 八間新店屋中, 新錦成號又拥有兩間, 恒發號亦有二間, 餘四間皆屬順發號. 至此, 廣東, 間清屬諸同胞陸續抵泗玻謀生, 於是人口及農商業曰見進展薘勃. 新錦成與金成安二聯號爲, 發展業務, 直接同新加坡(九八行) 進行出入口貿易. 後因白人(拉者) 政府, 認爲店屋傾斜江邊, 爲求安全及永久着想,乃命遷往内陸俗稱(後街) (即目前市區中心) 發展, 巿况遂益形改觀且興盛矣.

Kanga said...

It does make sense to me that the earliest Chinese traders were Hokkiens. Note the Strait Settlements (Penang, Melacca, singapore) were dominated by early Hokkien traders. Not surprising to me that Hokkiens arrived in Sarikei earlier than other Chinese groups.
As to the "Nine-Eight-Co.", I am not sure it refers to 2% commission. I thought it meant first 90%-10%, followed by 80%-20%, which means 18% commission. This was a common trading deals in early China. I'll check if I am correct (not because I am greedy.... ha!)

Kanga said...

Correction...should be 28% commission...

Daniel Yiek said...

Anonymous,
Kindly use a nickname or name when commenting so that the other readers can relate to each commentator.

45 rpm,
From what you wrote, we can confirm that 林先慎 is the grandfather of 林文欣, the 80+ years old ex-teacher of Kwang Chien school who married the sister of Chong Siew Fai. I will try to see whether I can get the family to find the pic of 林先慎, probably one of of those painted pics hanging at their Repok Road shophouse.

I recognise the Singapore company 泉成 mentioned by you. True to say that several Sarikei shops deal with them. My family used to import thru them.

Thanks for typing out the whole article in Chinese. It took me a long time to find all the Chinese characters for the post as my schools didn't teach pinyin!

Kanga,
Thanks for the healthy debate and it triggered my search on Chinese search engine www.baidu.com. I found that 九八行 means 2% commission. This practice can be traced back to later Qing dynasty in South coastal China. Pasted below:

http://www.fj-sh.com/showtree.aspx?postid=37837
晚清,有一部分专门代理上海与东南亚进出口贸易的华商商号,称南洋庄。这些行号像一般牙厘一样,不自负盈亏,而是按代理进出口货值,取佣金2%,故通称九八行,九八行是最早出现的南洋庄

Kanga said...

Good work Daniel! 2% commission!My goodness!I heard my mum mentioned that my dad was into this in his early business career. I can understand now why it didn't last long. He came back to Sarikei from China and be a pepper farmer instead!

45rpm said...

九八行 (Ninety Eight Trade) was the key to trading between regional towns and main trading center in the old days. Singapore company 泉成 Chun Seng is a Hokkien company that trade heavily with Sarikei's shops. When the boss 1st started the shop opposite to Lou Pa Sat he took an empty wooden crate which holds condensed milk and wrote 泉成and hang it up as the shop sign board, of course when the business grow bigger they had a sign board engrafted with golden wording 泉成. The family has more than 10 children and everyone help out in the business. One of the son was entrusted to travel to Sarawak and meet with Sarikei's Towkeys.

豐大號 Hong Ta was a Teochew company in Singapore that was even bigger than 泉成 which specialize in 九八行 (Ninety Eight Trade), some of the Sarikei's shop was trading with 豐大號. Another company that trade with some of the Sarikei's shops was Cantonese owned 華昌行 Hua Chiong Hang in Hong Kong Street, Singapore.

How do you trade in the old days? Not through e-mail of course.
九八行 trader would update price list of what they are offering through mail or hand carry if someone trusted is traveling. Shops that trade with them will have to list down the items and quantity they needed using Chinese ink and send via the ships returning to Singapore. Some of the shops that does Export - Import can issue trust which was used to pay the 九八行 trader. This trust is written in Chinese ink by the issuing shop (Sarikei's Exporter) stipulating the amount paying to the recipient (九八行) who later present it to Singapore importer who import rubber or pepper from the Sarikei's Exporter.

Established shops like 順發, 廣合興, 通益 are able to issue out trust printed on their own letter head. Smaller shops that are not doing export are not able to issue trust and thus they would buy the trust issued from 順發 for example and send it to 九八行 trader in Singapore when they buy their import.

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