Sunday, February 26, 2012

Disappearing Sarikei: Sarikei Architecture - The smell of rubber - Part 4

Sarikei Repok Road Block 2 Right -2007.
R-L: No. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.
Completed in 1946.

Physical appearance:
The major difference between Block 2R (1946) and Block 2L (1935) Repok Road is the window design. Block 2R do not have full length windows. Its wooden windows have three glass panels at the top for light to shine through while its bottom wooden parts provide privacy. At the top of the windows are louvred wood planks for ventilation.

Block 2R and the Bank Road block are almost identical.

The style is influenced by "Early Straits Eclectic" style of shophouses of the early 1900s from the Straits Settlement of Malaya. The facade has no ornate carvings due to the frugal days of post War World II recovery.

Sarikei Bank Road Block, 1950s.
L-R: No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and the old Rejang Market.
Completed in 1946.

The tale:
Wong Koh Chiong 黄可川 of Thong Aik 益 shop (No.1 Wharf Road) tendered for the 60-year leasehold land but he passed away before World War II. Khoo Peng Loong 邱炳, the Cantonese kapitan became the developer and completed Block 2R Repok Road and the Bank Road block in 1946.

The Japanese plundered most of the peppercorns harvested by the farmers during the war. My maternal grandfather rowed all the way from Bulat down the Nyelong River to surrender his peppercorns with a bow.  

Rubber was popular as a crop in Sarikei in the mid 1930s. The funding for these blocks came mainly from the rubber export revenue made before the Japanese came to town and after the war. Now you know why there were foul smelling rubber sheets on the five-foot ways of the Sarikei shops till its decline in the 1980s-1990s due to synthetic rubber. It's the smell of cash for Sarikei.


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Really informative...thanks.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Really informative...thanks.

Daniel Yiek said...

I'm trying to piece together the Sarikei Repok Rd scenes above Central Rd based on old photos that I have.

Does anyone know how many wooden shop blocks were built at Repok Rd ("back street")? Are there more than 2 blocks opposite 2 blocks? Total 4 blocks of 5 shops each?

Beyond these 4 wooden blocks was the Bai Sheng cinema and 2 rows of attap stalls opposite Bai Seng. A big unknown block was behind the 2 rows of attap stalls. Seems like the open air market?

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