June 29, 2009
History of Christ Hospital Kapit 1957-1974
Christ Hospital Kapit (1960)
Deep in the heart of the tropical rainforest in what was almost just a little hamlet was a beautiful hospital with white uniformed nurses and an American doctor known as Dr. Bu Tien Siew. He was not Chinese but he had a Chinese name as he had a father who was a great missionary in China in Putien in particular.
Dr. Bu spoke excellent Henghua as he was born in Putien and later grew up there. His father was instrumental in bringing the Henghuas to Sibu in 1912.
Dr. Bu Tien Siew (or Dr. H. Brewster )was a practising New York medical doctor before he was called by God to establish Christ Hospital in Kapit.
A light moment with Dr. Brewster.
Dr. Brewster with his Kapit staff and Methodist Church employees.
(All Photos from Methodist Message Archives)
In the 1950's and 1960's no one in Sibu in particular and the Rajang River Basin in general would not have heard of Christ Hospital of Kapit. Most people would take the 2 days and l night (2D1N) motor launch trip from Sibu to see a doctor (Dr. Ting or Dr. Fan) in Kapit!!
Why would patients go from a bigger town to a smaller town to see a good doctor and get his life saved? Who mooted the idea to have a western hospital built there? Where is that hospital today?
Here's a little chapter of history for you translated from Rev Ling Kai Cheng's book "Fifty Years in Reminisence" published by the Methodist Book Room of Sibu Sarawak.
In December 1954 Dr.Brewster (Bu Tien Siew his given Chinese name) came to Sibu from his New York hospital for a Methodist Mission trip. Born in China he was brought up in the Fujian Province of Putien (Henghua) . Fluent in Hokkien and Henghua dialects he was also a very good speaker of Shanghainese Foochow and Mandarin (National language of China at that time). Immediately he saw the need of a good hospital for Kapit where there were a lot of indigenous people needing medical attention. Mortality rate was high and he applied to the colonial government then for permission to build a hospital.
By 1957 he had gained the various documents to set up Christ Hospital in Kapit. In March 1957 he was able to set up a temporary hospital at Pantu Kapit.
Together with Dr. Ting Lik Kiew (the adopted son of Mrs. Mary Hoover) he went into an enthusiastic and energized mission of set up a good hospital with all the modern equipment sent by ship all the way from New York!
In 1960 the Christ Hospital had a grand opening. Staff included nurses and doctors from multi nations and guests were dignitaries from Malaysia and Singapore and local Dayak Headmen and leaders.
According to the late Mr. Ling Kai Cheng it was an awesom opening ceremony.
The Christ Hospital of Kapit became the pride of the Rajang Basin and an awesome arm of the Methodist
In 1974 the hospital was taken over by the Malaysian Government as it became too expensive to run as a private entity. Today the chapel within the hospital has become the laboratories and a newer five-storey hospital Kapit General Hospital has been constructed next to it.
(If there are mistakes here they are all mine as there were very few original resources I could lay hand on. Article was written in 2004 ( as part of my research on the rubber industry in the Rajang Basin) after interviewing Christian Henghua ladies about their faith and church work and rubber tapping experiences in Sibu and Bintulu and referring to Rev. Ling Kai Cheng's book. Changyi)