Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Scenes - Sarikei - the House of Tiong Hung Ming 张鸿明

Sarikei Tiong Hung Ming's house, 2010
Jalan Bersatu


Behind the block of shops on Repok Road facing Methodist School stands a dilapidated house. A coconut tree and a oil palm have taken over as sentinels of this abandoned house. What's the story of this house and who used to live here?


Sarikei Tiong Hung Ming's house, 2010
Jalan Bersatu


This house had lost its war against the weather and nature as plants had crept up its wall and roof. A closer inspection revealed a chimney that hinted at a past when the lady of the house used to cook with a wood fired stove after her work at Methodist School. This was the house of Tiong Hung Ming 张鸿明. Mrs Tiong ran Sze Hua kindergarten of Methodist School after Mdm Ong Poh Ai 王寶愛 left.

Sarikei Tiong Hung Ming's house, 2010
Jalan Bersatu



Before the block of shophouse facing Methodist School was built, that area was a small hill with a Malay graveyard on it in the 1970s. A small unpaved path led to this house by two ponds with reasonably clear water (one for drinking and another for washing). These ponds were apparently fed by an underground source and this source most likely also fed the stream, Sungai Repok, that runs below Repok Road now. In the early 1900s, houses on stilts with thatched nipah palm roofs dotted Sungai Repok.

These ponds were owned by the Tiong family and denizens used to buy water from them at 20 cents per tin (the size of a kerosene tin) in the 1940s-1950s. Huge tadpoles also enjoyed the spa in that pond.


Sarikei Tiong Hung Ming's house, 2010
Jalan Bersatu


Tiong Hung Ming's obituary


Mr Tiong was a famous engineer in Sarikei. His first project was the Shell petrol station at Wharf Road in 1953-54. He was also famous for building bridges. Can someone name the bridges he built? The old Nyelong Bridge. The former CTC Merudu "Bailey's bridge"? He balanced his engineering workload with basketball skills as the No. 12 in the legendary Flying Saucer 飞 碟 team of old Sarikei. He played the position of guard. Update: He passed away on 23rd Sep 2012 at age 85.


Sarikei Tiong Hung Ming's house, 2010
Jalan Bersatu


This is the oldest house standing in the area. It looks like it had been renovated before with 1970s style. This house will likely be demolished soon for commercial blocks if it also falls into the 60-year leasehold around this area. This area is apparently zoned for commercial blocks only.

Next time you will probably be buying bottled drinking water from a new shop here. Water, anyone?

10 comments:

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Is there any photo of the pond? Is the water still safe?

Sarikei like Miri has a few wells...

Interesting details...

Daniel Yiek said...

Sarawakiana,
The pond is no longer there...I wonder whether anyone has pics of that pond.

By the way, Angela Tan referred me to this house. :)

easechen said...

I used to spend a lot of time in this house during the 60's, because my best friend lived there. She's Tiong Ai Ping, daughter of Tiong Hung Ming's eldest brother. The thing I remember most was being chased by the many geese on their compound. It could be a very scary experience - they'd bite your feet!

sarikeikia said...

This was a long time ago, people use to shower at one of the pond at the foot of the small hill where it was a Malay graveyard. Mrs Tiong Hung Ming parents were the earliest Yu Tiao (Yaw Char Gwai) seller in town, wooden shophouses days. Talking of ponds in Sarikei, there was another few ponds those days were people will take the trouble to go for a shower. One of the other pond was around 1.5 mile by the road within the 60 acres land owned by then owner Wong Tian Pou 黄天保. Another pond was right at 2.5 mile spot where the private school Kwang Ling is located. If you meet Mr Su you can ask him how he cycle 2.5 mile to shower at the pond and also wooing his wife whose house was beside the pond. Which Mr Su? Who else but the one who started his career as a coffee boy at No. 9 Repok Rd Kiew Lok Kopitiam 僑 樂 園 茶 室.

Daniel Yiek said...

Sarikei-kia,

Can you shed some light on the private school, Kwang Ling. Is it related to Min Lik School?

sarikeikia said...

Kwang Ling is a small private school in the 1970s, I don’t think it is very successful and most likely you won’t be able to find the school now. If you travel up Repok Rd it is on the left side of the road at 2.5 mile, directly opposite the school on the right side of Repok Rd is the Cantonese and Hokkien cemetery. This school is not related to Min Lik which is a Chinese sponsored school.

The school was operated by a Foochow couple who owned the land, they build the wooden structured school and you can see it clearly when you pass by Repok Rd. The school only operate classes for Form 4 & 5 targeting those who could not make it to Form 4 after sitting the Sarawak Junior Certificate examination (Form 3). The school collected monthly school fees of around around 30 dollars. Monthly Bus fare from town was 7 dollars. Please don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a student from this school though I know this much.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Many privately owned schools like Ling chu Ming and Rejang School in Sibu were operated by people with vision to save the 30% drop outs of government exams. I am glad that many of these who went to such private schools are now very responsible people. The private school principals in those days were also very hardworking and professional people who directly mentored their students.

I am glad that opportunities were created like these to help the late developers. Winston Churchill and Einstein were late developers. They would have problems with passing exams earlier in life.

Today we may not have such caring entreprenuers to help start private schools to help the late bloomers. Many colleges are fly by night establishments which churn out certificates which are just as worthless as tissue paper. Education goes really deep into our minds and hearts.

And one of the most successful school systems? Confucian schools and some religious schools which were started as early as the 10th century AD.

Frost said...

Hi everyone, I grew up at this house. My grandfather is Mr Tiong Hung Kwong, eldest brother to Mr. Tiong Hung Ming.
Easechen, Tiong Ai Ping is my aunt. She is the youngest daughter in the family. Probably you know my mum too. Her name is Tiong Ai Li.
Hey Daniel, well done on this post. I wish I'll get another chance to go back to visit this house again. Kinda miss the good old days when I used to run around the house with my cousins.

ahk said...

I had visited the house a few times with my parent when I was a youd lad. Sad to see the house gone to such a ruin.

Anonymous said...

kuang Ling Sec. sch is actually Conlin Sec. sch光灵

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