Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Disappearing Sarikei: Methodist Sze Hua Kindergarten - New Church Planned

New Methodist Church planned for 2015

Sarikei is in a dilemma as she struggles between conservation of heritage versus the constant need to progress and expand. Usually it is the latter that wins because Sarikei has not reached the level of affluence of developed cities yet where denizens fight for heritage conservation before it is too late.

Why conserve heritage? If you or your future generations have nothing left to look back on for your past except through photos, life will be less meaningful. The future generations will say things like, "Oh! It's such a shame to destroy such an important piece of history. Why didn't they conserve it?"

The 1920 Sze Hua kindergarten 泗華小學 in 1964.

Next on the vanishing heritage list is the Methodist Sze Hua kindergarten that is 93 years old. In 1920, a wooden Methodist church was built by 2 gentlemen (Wong Qing Bo黄清波 and Wong Qing Chun 黄清春) with an attached Sze Hua kindergarten 泗華小學. (Source: 1). 

The beautiful colonial styled church was situated between this kindergarten and the current church and had been demolished to make way for the current primary school entrance. In the late 1950s, the three buildings stood side by side as landmarks on the edge of downtown Sarikei.

 The 1920 Sze Hua kindergarten 泗華小學 in 2013.

An annex was later added (year?) to accommodate the increasing number of kindergarten students. A Methodist kindergarten branch was added in Nyelong Park in 1990.

Sze Hua kindergarten 泗華小學: annex (L) and original (R) in 2013.

  The original Sze Hua kindergarten 泗華小學 in 2013.

The existing church at Repok Road has run out of seating capacity and its roof is in bad shape. A Methodist Church branch 泗里街卫理公会特恩was added at Nyelong Park (57A Jalan Jelutong) circa 1995

The proposed new church can seat 550 people and an additional 330 with the doors opened. It will also house the office of the church, the office of the Reverend, a 30-seat meeting room, a pastory restroom, a fellowship hall, a children's room, a refreshment room, an utility room, a toilet and an underground car park with lift. 

 The original Sze Hua kindergarten 泗華小學 in 2013.
Some renovation had been done to the windows, doors and roof.

It was proposed that the kindergarten be moved to the old pastory building which needs to be renovated too.

  The original Sze Hua kindergarten 泗華小學 in 2013.

The new church will cost about RM5 million for demolition, construction, facilities, installation,  renovation of the old pastory building, etc. There's a fund raising at the existing church on 31st Aug 2013 from 6am-12noon with tickets priced at RM10, 20 and 50.

 Fund raising tickets at RM10, 20 and 50

 The existing Methodist Church, 2011.
Source: Sarikeians

The existing church (built in 1955) is luckily not on part of the demolition job. It will be passed into the good hands of the Sarawak Methodist Chinese History Department to be developed into a Museum of Sarikei Divisional Churches, the first of any kind of museum in 6th Division,

 The original Sze Hua kindergarten 泗華小學 in 2013.
View from the main entrance of the primary school.

Can the vintage kindergarten be saved? Can the new structure be built on the open space (picture above) behind the main entrance of the primary school? Can another portion be built on the kindergarten playground and annex site? Can the new structure be built with more storeys? In many conservation projects in developed cities, new buildings are built around a heritage building.

Does the new church have to build on the existing premises of the crowded Methodist compound? How about new land at, say, Meranti Road area, across Sarikei River or across Nyelong River?

It's the old kindergarten for whom the bell tolls unless passionate ex-Methodist alumni folks (local and overseas) can step in to offer constructive alternatives. Do we have to demolish to construct?

For whom the bell tolls...

(1) 80th Anniversary souvenir issue of Methodist Church's Huai Ren Hall. 取自怀仁堂80周年纪念刊


Rollt said...

Do not agree with demolition of a piece of history. Is there no workaround to this? Just heard that old St Anthony Church might give way to new building too. The sad sign of progress.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. We may not be able to stop progress, but we should at least salvage something, like a sign or a pillar, to tie us to the history of progress that we can look back with pride. If we just tear down everything without the forethought for where we come from, we become strangers in our home with a shallow roots.
I attended this school in the early 70's. Walked back home on the second day of school when mom didn't come to pick me up. I looked forward to a snack of biscuits and milo every day at school. Those were the good old days. The school in its present state already look vastly different than what it used to be. I sure I am not the only one with precious memories. So, please let the developer know. Respect our memories, please salvage something for remembrance.

Tuan Lokong said...

There is so much land around Sarikei...Guess we could extend township rather than squeeze every building in the same locations. Township planners where are you guys? Great idea to expand City?

Hi Daniel I am back mmm I am in but still outside Malaysia.

Michelle Wong said...

That's where I went kindergarten for! That's my first thought when I saw your post. Haha I was so stunned to see this blog. It's a quite a shock to read that its gonna disappears soon. I didn't know I still remember my kindergarten years so vividly until I saw your pictures. It will be shame for it to be pulled down as I believe many of us had fond memories of this place. Keep up the good work on blogging about our hometown. Thanks!

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