Block 4 at the T-junction of Wharf Road and Market Road is the oldest cement block of shop house left standing in the old downtown of Sarikei. Block 4 was built in 1931-1932. Block 1 was built in 1935.
Sarikei Wharf Road (R) & Market Road (L); late 1940s, post war.
Block 4. L-R: No. 22, No. 21, No. 20
Find the unpaved Market Road & electricity poles along the padang.
Find the 1937 District Office in the background.
What were the soldiers doing???
Before World War II, No. 22 & No. 21 was occupied by the shop Kwong Hup Hin 廣合興 (Cantonese) and was operated by the descendants of Chen Mong (1879-1939). The most famous son was Chen Ko Ming. No.21 was used for their storage and accommodation. After the war, No. 22 was occupied by the Borneo Company Limited (see signboard in the picture).
Kwong Hup Hin moved to No. 5 Wharf Road after the war and shared No. 5 with Kwong Lee Bank which had opened in 1937 under the manager Chan Soo Kwong 陳樹廣. Bank Road was named because of this bank facing the Rejang River. The bank later moved to No. 22.
The bank's manager at No. 22 then was Leong Ming Tak 梁明德 (from Singapore). He was very active in organising the 1st Kwong Lee Bank Cup (Sarawak inter-district basketball tournament) in Sarikei. Mr. Leong, a Cantonese, was educated in Szechuan and Canton. He spoke Mandarin with a Szechuan cum Cantonese accent. In the early 1970s, he was transferred to Golden Castle Finance Company 金獅金融公司 in Singapore as its manager.
Sarikei has continued its banking tradition. If you walk around town today, there are a bewildering number of banks. The question is which bank can you bank on? The one that gives you a free umbrella for opening a savings account?