In the days of yore, people settled and developed towns along the Rejang River for its water transport. Before 1961, Sarikei, Bintangor and Sibu were not connected by tarred roads. Let's wind back the clock and trace the history of water transport development. In the beginning, the only way was to row your sampan and gasp in awe in the wake of an occasional colonial schooner.
In 1911, the Sibu Chinese Merchants had a joint venture with a Singapore businessman, Mr Teo Soon Bee 张順美 to form a steamship company. The first small steamship, Flevo 碧里茂, plied between Singapore and Sibu three times per month.
The Sibu Chinese Merchants built its first boat, Pren 巴莲 , in 1918 and it sailed along Rejang River. In 1919, Kuching's Ong Tiang Swee 王長水 founded the Sarawak Steamship Co. 砂劳越輪船公司 and a steamship sailed between Singapore and Sibu and added a route to Kuching.
In 1937, the Sibu Chinese Merchants bought a 2000-ton steamer and named it "New Foochow 新福州". It served between Sibu and Ma Wee port 馬尾港 in Fuzhou, China.