The first map was drawn by Wong Meng Lei (Rajang Basin). He was visiting Hak Choon Nguong or New Nang Chong an area next to my maternal grandmother's Ah Nang Chong when he thought that a map would be good to help people remember their past and think about their future. In fact at this moment of writing I do not know of any other map which has been properly drawn for this area. (Perhaps there has been a government cartographic or geological map but due to the unstable political situation in the 60's and 70's maps of localised areas of Sarawak were not available to the public for security reasons.)
In secondary school map reading was mainly taught using maps of Alor Star, Kuala Terengganu and Telok Anson. We even used British topographical maps!
Sarawak has been known as a place where active internal and out- migration occur over the last 100 years. It is not surprising too that due to many factors thousands of Foochow people have already migrated from these Rajang villages to various other parts Sarawak and Malaysia and also other parts of the world. So this special map may conjure up lots of meaningful memories. In particular I myself feel closer to home when I can see the dots representing the villages I used to visit in the past.
Once a man had asked me if I were paid for all the research (on the Oral History of Sibu Foochows) I was doing. I answered him "No." And immediately he lost interest in me. He had "that look " on his face! But he did also comment that as I was not known to him (not famous) who would be reading my book if I ever got published....That was a "very big basin of cold water" on my face. But I have moved on with more than 1000 articles under my belt!!
However deep down in my heart I know my writing is worth more than the paper I am writing on. Even without remuneration I am motivated to write about my elders who had contributed sweat, tears and blood to the modern history of Sibu. Some documentation needs to be done by someone.
Are we going to draw a road map of our lives? We don't build pyramids and leave behind historically valuable hieroglyphics but at least we should leave for our future generation some photos and some articles and books.
Map by Meng Lei.
Road map from Kuching to Sibu
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