I did a rough translation of this article from the Sarikei Cantonese Association 122th anniversary issue.
19th Century: The Origin of the Cantonese Association
When did the Cantonese first come to Sarikei? When was the first Cantonese Association set up? There was no detailed records. The only reliable source is the tombstone in Sare that has 100+ years of history.
According to the old folks' verbal narration, the Cantonese came from South China in the 19th century and settled in Kuching, Sarawak and in Indonesia, mostly in Surabaya 泗水. Later a number of Cantonese moved from Indonesia to Kuching and Bau 石龍門 (35 km from Kuching). The Kuching Cantonese Association was established on 5th December 1853. This is the first established Chinese association with 154 years of history.
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.
Source: Sarikei Cantonese Association 122th Anniversary Issue, Dec 2007
After the Cantonese settled down in Bau, they migrated by boat to the Rajang (Rejang) River mouth. They disembarked at Rajang town and then reached Sare via a tributary at the opposite side of the Rajang river. Sare was a wild jungle then and these trail blazers had to made a living by sawing "red wood" 红木 (belian)to make house tiles 屋瓦. They transported these house tiles and wooden planks via wooden boats 板瓦船 to Sibu, Kuching, etc to trade for daily necessities. Then GuangDong province had 3+ timber businesses that came to import the wood to China and Hong Kong.
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.Find Sare, 20km from Sarikei, near Jakar.
Source: Sarikei Bus Station at Bank Road.
In the harsh environment of Sare, the Cantonese gathered together to build a wooden 红木 house and called it the "office house". Those sick Cantonese and new comers were taken care at this building. This building became the communications and business centre. One day, a businessman went to Kuching to ship some wood and saw the Kuching Cantonese Association. He came back and proposed that this "office house" be turned into the Cantonese Association to take care of the community. This was the origin of the Sarikei Cantonese Association, circa 1885.
What happened to this "office house"? Is it still around in Sare? Come back to find out.