Thursday, February 04, 2010

People - Sarikei Leong Ming Teck 梁明德

In the early 1950s, Leong Ming Teck 梁明德 packed his luggage in Singapore and headed to Sarikei in the depths of the Borneo jungle. While his boat was slowly cruising up the meandering Rejang (Rajang) River, he must have wondered what he had got himself into. A mistake? How about a fulfilling life as a foreign educated talent to help Sarikei move towards progress?


Sarikei District Council, 1955
Find the old houses behind.

Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.

Source: Ease Chen


Seated:
L1, Leong Ming Teck 梁明德 (Cantonese Association Chairman 1955-1966; Kwong Lee Bank manager);
L2, Wong Yong Hua 王仰华 (Foochow kapitan);
L3 Yii Choo Ting 俞祖添 (St. Anthony's & St. Anne's Chinese teacher);
L7, Chen Ko Ming 陳高明 (Cantonese kapitan);
L8, Penghulu Eman
L9 and L10: The 2 Malays with the songkok and head dress also appeared at the Sarikei District Office picture (1950-60s). Names?
L11, Penghulu Ah-Nin

Standing:
L2, Tan Kim Sing 陳敬信 (Headmaster of Kwang Chien school);
L3 黃亦天
L4 Yek Suk Kang 葉叔幹(Foochow businessman);
L5 Siaw Ah Khoon 蕭南坤
L6 黃道春


Sarikei Leong Ming Teck 1999
Source: Ease Chen

Mr. Leong, a Cantonese, was educated in Sichuan (Szechuan) and Canton. He spoke Mandarin with a Szechuan cum Cantonese accent. He became the bank manager of Kwong Lee Bank at 22 Wharf Road (next to the police station - what a great location for a bank!). In those days, banking could be very informal and if you were a towkay (boss) who needed cash urgently on a Sunday, you could simply call Mr. Leong who was staying above Kwang Lee Bank. He would process the transaction and pass you the cash from the side window while wearing a sarong.

He became the chairman of the Cantonese Association from its inauguration in 1955 until 1966.

Sarikei Leong Ming Teck 1999
Source: Ease Chen


In the mid 1950's, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of Cantonese kapitan, Chen Ko Ming, made use of a piece of land beside their building to build a basketball court. The original court was open air without roofing and the seats were only built on one side with the back of the seats facing the padang (now Civic Centre). In the early 1960s, Mr. Leong Ming Teck started a donation drive to construct a stadium with roofing. With the support of the public, the stadium was constructed next to the Chamber of Commerce in 1962-1963 in time for the inaugural Kwang Lee Bank cup (Sarawak inter-district basketball tournament). He also helped organise the tournament.

In the early 1970s, he was transferred to Golden Castle Finance Company 金獅金融公司 in Singapore as its manager. His wife passed away a few years ago. He is now living in San Francisco, USA, in his 90s.

Update: He passed away at the age of 95 at San Mateo in California in July 2011. Below is a news clip.


13 comments:

sarikeikia said...

When Leong Ming Teck 梁明德 came to Sarikei beside working as a manager for Kwang Lee Bank he also started an import and wholesale company called 丰亨栈 (Fong Hong Jang) right behind his working place at the last shop in Central Rd. The company was importing goods from Singapore such as textile and shoes etc. The business runs at that shop for a few years and after which it was taken over by a Hakka dentist ever since. Mr Leong also had a rubber farm in Bulat where he employ worker to take care of the farm.

Talking about the dentist in Central road, there was this incident when the eldest brother’s son of Mr Leong best buddy who went to the Hakka clinic to have a tooth removed but unfortunately he was killed by the tooth extraction. This little boy was from a prominent family in Wharf Rd.

Daniel Yiek said...

Thanks Sarikeikia for the comment.

All,
If you have not read the the names for the 1st picture properly, Siaw Ah Khoon was in there. This is the 2nd picture we have of him. His grandson will be sending in more pics of him as per his email.

Daniel Yiek said...

I have created a tab at the top of the post on the "History of Sarikei". To come back to main page, just click "Home" tab.

sarikeikia said...

Siaw Ah Khoon was staying in one of those houses as shown in the background of the picture and his was somewhere behind those houses in that direction too.
Looking forward to see more photos of Mr Siaw.

Chen Ko Ming's earlier house was also a wooden house on stilts. Right opposite to the location where the 10 store building (Sarikei District Office) is. That was before he shifted to the one in 1st mile Repok.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Another excellent post.
The photo of the District council has two interesting elements: Public Reading Room (if only people today go to read like in those days) AND the Chinese words of the S.Dictrict Council were Local Government - correctly translated actually. (Di Fan...etc.)

Happy Chinese New Year...in Sarikei?

sarikeikia said...

I want to add another interesting element of the photo. See how Malay was written using Jawi script? The old Malay was mostly in Jawi and in the early days no one write Malay or understand Malay in the current form which is commonly called BM. Only after Malaya got it independent in 1957 and start to establish the Malay language with the inclusion of thousands of English words to make it as what it is today BM. Words such as system, reform, science etc etc was non existence in the old Malay language.

Peter @ Enviroman said...

Hi Daniel,

Your comment at simple horizontal bar was only recently approved because the notification ended up in the spam folder. Anyway I have responded to it and perhaps you should follow a link I posted in my response.

BTW just why does Sarawak keep on voting the corrupted BN into power? Our country needs change very badly.
See Blog for Change.

Glennis said...

A lot of interesting history.

nelson said...

peter, swak is far different form west msia.

sarikeikia said...

I left out one piece of information that is significant to this post. Mr Leong Ming Teck was an elected district representative in the 60s.

In those days Sarikei division was divided into 7 districts and local election was held to choose a representative for each district. Candidates from SCA and SUPP campaign to fight it out and Mr Leong Ming Teck was one of the 7 winner. Temenggong Chou Pak Ming and Mr 钟 (Chon Qua) was winner from the SUPP camp. Mr Chon defeated Mr Chen Ko Ming's brother. Mr Chon is now a town elder probably 90 years old and his grandfather was one of the earliest Cantonese who first settle in Sari and latter in Bulat. Mr Chon's grandfather passed away in Bulat in 1930s at a ripe old age, so you can imagine how early he came.

Daniel Yiek said...

Sarawakiana,
Good catch on the Public Reading Room and the interesting translation of Sarikei District Council.

Glennis, Peter, Nelson
Thanks for commenting.

Sarikeikia,
1. SUPP was the opposition then, correct?
2. Leong was from which camp?
3. Chen Ko Ming's bro => Chen Tong Seng? I heard he was Chairman of Chamber of Commerce after Chen Ko Ming.

sarikeikia said...

It would be great if you can find out the record from the Sarikei District Council, they should be keeping the record of the then local election. Because such local election created the down side of too much politicking and wastage of resources it was later abandoned. I only have limited memory which is insufficient to tell a full story.

Yes Mr Leong Ming Teck was from SCA camp, same as his best buddy Mr Chen Ko Ming & brother Chen Tong Seng. SUPP was actually more of a leftist party drawing support from many Foochow and the Cantonese was divided between SCA and SUPP. Mr Chen Ko Ming was alined to SUPP in the beginning but left to join SCA started by Ling Beng Siew.

Mr Leong won the district of Ya-Kan. Chou Pak Ming won for SUPP in Kei-Lap & Ngr-Lan. Mr 钟 (Chon Qua) from SUPP won in his stronghold Bulat.

Mr Chen Ko Ming the head of Sarikei SCA lost in the town district to Lo Pak Man of SUPP whom was formally the Sarikei head of The Borneo Co., Ltd.

Mr 钟 (Chon Qua) defeated Mr Chen Tong Seng, the eldest brother of Chen Ko Ming in Bulat district.

Mr Ting Sieng Meow of SUPP defeated Mr Kong Sing Ing of SCA in the district around 1st mile Repok. If you can recall the post on the private maternity ward named 新民 Sin Ming. Mr Ting Sieng Meow the son of Toufu maker whose wife started the maternity ward. Mr Kong Sing Ing was the son-in-law of Foochow Kapitan Wong Yong Hua, Mr Kong from Sibu was a teacher in Sarikei High before joining his Father-in-law to start the ill fated Hock Hua Bank branch in Sarikei. Hock Hua Bank was the bank of Datuk Ling Beng Siew’s family and also the founder of SCA, so goes the affiliation.

On July 63, Ling Beng Siew of SCA, Temenggong Jugah and Abang Haji Mustapha penned their signature to the joining of the Malaysia federation thus sealing the faith of Sarawak forever.

Daniel Yiek said...

Sarikeikia,
Thanks!

There's a good book on Sarawak politics selling in Kuching bookstores. Forgot the the name now. I have not bought it yet...maybe later.

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