Friday, May 22, 2009

History - Sarikei during World War II

With the eruption of World War II and the surrender of the colonial government to the Japanese, Sarikei, like the rest of the Sarawak towns, went into panic mode. The Sibu warehouse was already looted. According to news received, a group of 300 armed Ibans (mainly from Pakan) were rushing down to Sarikei to loot on 27 Dec 1941. (Source: 1 & reader Lidasar)

Japanese in Sibu, War World II
Source: 2

1000+ Chinese and Malays armed themselves to defend Sarikei . When the Dayaks reached the river bank and saw the huge army (that stretched from Rejang River bank to the Methodist Church area according to reader ST Lau's grandpa), they dared not go ashore. The Dayaks sent reps to negotiate with the Chinese and Malay leaders. As a pledge for peace, a pig was slaughtered as per native customs. Sarikei leaders offered the Ibans to camp within the District Officer's Residency ground. The town folks brought in a lot of food and prepared splendid feast with BBQ pig. The Chinese gave each Dayak $5 (not a small amount in those days) and a few katis of rice before the Dayaks departed. (Source: 1, reader ST Lau and Lidasar)

Sarikei: Encyclopedia of Japanese Language, World War II

The rising sun symbol on this dusty book caught my eye in my family's attic in Sarikei. Holy smoke! This was from World War II.

During the Japanese Occupation, there was 12 Japanese soldiers in Sarikei. Two of them came to the St. Anthony's School brandishing swords & ordered all teachers to stand in a line. They ordered the teachers to start teaching Japanese the next day! The Japanese arranged Japanese language training. (Source: 3)

During WWII, the SESCO stations were operated under Japanese directions. SESCO personnel were forced to work on the power stations without enough spares or maintenance. In some stations, sections of the distribution networks were removed, likely for their copper wires. (Source: 4)

The Japanese built an airstrip for their war planes on the long beach of Belawai facing the South China Sea. (Source: Wong Yuk Feng) 

Commander Hiyoe Yamamura surrendered in Sarawak,
Sept 1945.

Kiew Lok Kopitiam 僑樂園茶室 (No. 9 Repok Rd ) was the Japanese shop during World War II under the name Na Hor (那号) that specialised in Japanese goods. The 2nd floor was a gambling den! (Source: Reader Lidasar)

The colonial District Officer (WS Buck) kept a good record of what happened before the Japanese came, how the colonial folks deserted Sarikei and left the Sarikei denizens to their own devices. Click World War II label to read.

What other Sarikei stories do you have from your elders about life in Sarikei during World War II or have you surrendered already without even trying?

1. Pussy's in the well, Japanese Occupation of Sarawak 1941-1945, Chapter 5. By Julitta Lim Shau Hua.
2. Sibu Chinese History Collection 詩巫華族史科集, 1992
3. Anthonian interview with Hii Ing-King, 1979
4. SESCO 30th Anniversary Magazine, 1963-1993


Nelson said...

omg, only 12 jap soldiers? those 1000 plus conscripts can wipe them off easily. But the consequence will be deadly. Superb book that you had found, Daniel. Perhaps I will go to the attic of my old house to search for jumanjis too. =) I like history esp. history on wars.

M-Knight said...

I found that Japanese book some yrs back while cleaning the attic but it was all torn up eat by termit, have to throw it away.

Daniel Yiek said...

Found the answer for Na Hor (那号) Japanese shop from a Sarikei veteran.

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