Monday, May 25, 2009

History - Sarikei during World War II. Part 2.

Do you want more? Not more wars but more war period stories in Sarikei. Enjoy these valuable nuggets just received.

During the Japanese occupation, they re-opened 3 schools. The Malay school (now demolished) near the old graveyard and original mosque at Jalan Masjid Lama was named "Sarikei daii chi gago 第一学校" (Sarikei First School); Kwang Chien School as "Sarikei dai ni gago 第二学校 " (Sarikei Second School) and Hua Chiew Middle School (predecessor of Sekolah Tinggi) as "Sarikei dai san gago 第三学校" (Sarikei Third School). Example: Mr. Chien Thian Huong 钱程晃 of Tong Hua 同华 (No. 3 Central Road) studied at dai san gago.

World War II calendar used during Japanese occupation.
民國 ming kuo 32: 1911+32 = 1943.
The year follows Dr Sun Yat Seng’s revolution in 1911.
Sibu Chinese History Collection 詩巫華族史科集, 1992

In 1944, the Ibans from Pakan and Julau came to Sarikei but was quickly restrained by the Japanese. The next day, about 50 Japanese soldiers (so there were more than 12 Japanese in Sarikei at one stage) armed with automatics and a heavy gun stood in front of No 1. Wharf Road. They rounded up hundreds of Ibans and ordered them to listen to a speech (a stern warning) not to take the laws into their own hands.

On one occasion, the Japanese organised a feast for the Ibans and Malays. A huge picture of a pig was put up. The Japanese officer gave a speech to tell the Malays that they were misled by the colonial folks not to eat pork. The officer claimed that the colonial folks ate pork and that's why they were healthy and huge. You can see how ignorant the Japanese war officers were of local culture. After a few rounds of mostly homemade hard liquor, the Ibans claimed that the curled teeth of aged wild boar which they wore could ward off bullets. The Japanese were amused and a machine gun was brought in. The officer said, "I'll personally test the effectiveness of your magic charm". That silenced the crowd.

Marriage certificate during Japanese occupation, 1942.
Source: Sibu Chinese History Collection 詩巫華族史科集, 1992

Towards the later years of WW II, Thong Aik 益 (No. 1 Wharf road) was occupied as Na Hor 那号 No. 2 for rice storage. Sarikei folks thought that they would not need to worry about rice anymore but unfortunately the rice were saturated with sea water (not suitable for human consumption by today's standard). The poor Sarikeians had no choice but to accept their rations.

Kwong Sin 廣新 (No. 11 Wharf Road) was the site of Takashimaya 高岛屋. Can you imagine we had this shop which was likely from the same Japanese company that started the famed Takashimaya at Orchard Road, Singapore? There was a Mitsui Norin 三井农林 in Binatang (Bintangor) run by a Japanese called Kita. Kita treated people badly in Binatang during the war.

In one of the Japanese schools in Sarikei, one student received a prize which comprised of a pencil and a eraser made in Japan. During the war, the Japanese goods were of inferior quality. The pencil lead snapped often and the eraser was as hard as a piece of wood so the students nicknamed them"ri ben huo" 日本货.

Fast forward to today in Sarikei, Japanese cars are coveted items and the number one brand is still Sony.


nelson said...

japanese stuffs used to be like the current zhong guo huo (made in china items). but they improved a lot and are still improving. still waiting to see honda civic hybrid or toyota prius cruising along repok road.

sarawakiana said...

I have really enjoyed reading this original article! Thanks!

长竹 said...


Daniel Yiek said...

I have seen the Nanking movie on DVD. It's a gruesome documentary.

Thanks for the interesting story about your 70-year old brother (now deceased) walking a whole day to Sibu to build an air strip during WWII. Let me translate for those who dont read Mandarin.

The men had to stay and work in Sibu for several months before been allowed to to go home once. Those were tough days - always insufficient food and yet had to do manual work.

Sim Y said...

Daniel, side track from this story.

From the Cluster Map of people visited this site, you will roughly know how the Sarikei folks are residing round the world. Who will search for the word 'Sarikei'?

May be your next assignment will be Sarikiens around the world.

Daniel Yiek said...

The counters do not always give an accurate picture of where the readers come from. Reason: some readers are using corporate office email so if their company server is based in USA HQ, the counter will register them as USA readers when they could be in any other country.

Anyway, there's facebook Sarikeian group now with 630 members worldwide. See sidebar.

Borneo Breezes said...

Daniel- I have been away a while and WOW is your blog something wonderful! Great history you are collecting and info about Sarikei. It looks like you are getting noticed too. Altogether well done.

Traveling doc

sarawakiana said...

The construction of the Sibu Airport during the Japanese Occupation remains a very painful episode of the History of the Chinese in Sarawak.
My father and my grandfather had to walk each day for hours too carrying bungki and changkul. If they were slow they would be beaten ..some very sick ones were hit in the head by the butt of the bayonet. The soldiers were cruel and literally some Foochows vomitted blood. A few years later my father married my mum and he told her the horror stories.
My mum thus passed on such stories to me.
Many lived but could not tell the stories actually because it was so painful.
A Foochow teacher who was literate in Japanese was quite a good go between and saved a number of lives. I am looking for his story.

Daniel Yiek said...

Borneo Breezes,
You should some back again to Sarikei. We don't have enough doctors locally.

Thanks for the good story. If you can blog about the Foochow teacher's story, that would be great!

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