April 10, 2010

Madam Tiong - 86 Year Old Farmer of Bukit Lan

It is always good to meet up with the original farming settlers of the riverine villages of the Rajang Basin.

Madam Tiong is 86 years old and is still strong and healthy living a good farmer's life. Her wooden house is next to Thian Chin Primary School.


this is her wooden house which has been standing here for the last 70 years - all original and traditionally Foochow as in the pioneering days.



Being frugal she is like so many other Foochow pioneers - they recycle tins and boxes. This is a recycled biscuit tin used as a letter box..Cute dog is guardian of the area which is unfenced and free from high walls.


Madam Tiong is wearing a typical cotton blouse. She looks younger than her age. Even though she complains about her cholesterol she is terribly agile and athletic. She practically ran up the hill to meet us.



In our conversation we learn that her late husband is a Chee or Sii. She has sons and daughters all working in Sibu with some of her nieces and nephews working as far away as Miri and she is happy that she is still contributing economically to the family. She brings her live chickens and ducks to Sibu town to sell directly to her customers.

She has 23 durian trees which bear fruits of good quality.

Besides these durian trees and poultry she has other fruits on her land.

It is amazing that Madam Tiong has been living a simple life without much change since the day she got married and moved here. Real change may be happening just ten miles away from her farm but she is unaffected by computer technology and even the Astro which I notice is happily absent from her roof!!

We need to consider her great contribution to the society. We should be thankful to her and her contributions. If farmers like her stop producing food can we sustain our lifestyles? Where can we get our kampong chickens? Can we really grow enough vegetables in backyard gardens or even on rooftop gardens to survive? Do we even know how to stat or maintain a garden?

Perhaps l Malaysia could be more meaningful if we could bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. One Malaysia can mean that all the people of Malaysia are equally rich.....

Surely we could have a simple fund for farmers to retire on...surely 1% food tax would not be burdensome for anyone but would generate millions for farmer support.

Malaysians do not pay a 10% luxury tax? Surely someone who pays 1 million ringgit for a car can afford an extra 100,000 for the farmers. Someone who pays 6 mil for a luxury apartment can afford another 600 000 for the farmers. Someone who pays 2,000 for a new suit surely can afford to pay some tax so the farmer can have 200. that is if all public taxation is correctly channelled to help our farmers. We have heard of all the great Malaysian oil and even fertilizer subsidies and now we should re consider a lot of other subsidies or support funds.

I believe Madam Tiong deserves a public service medal for her long years (60 years at least) of poultry farming.

Thank you Madam Tiong!!

16 comments:

Hee Kang said...

I remembered that we often used to run into this house compound whenever playing basketball game to pick up the ball dropped there. There was a rambutan tree next to the basketball court which we can just pluck the fruit with ease!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hello Hee Kang
Is your mother Madam Lau Kiing Lien and your uncle Mr. Lau Kiing Mew?
That is a good memory..playing basketball and free fruits especially rambutans!!

The fruit tree (may be mangosteen) is still there...it is a huge one next to the NBA basketball court.

I have good memories there too even though I went there only three times.

My grandmother loved her second son and his family like all mothers do.....

Ah Ngao said...

She's a survival ..! the newer generations won't last that long(of coz,that's includes me..)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi ah Ngao

People of her age have always eaten food that is very simple ...no deep fried food for example. No cakes and no icecream....simple fare they call it...and lots of Chinese tea...very little sugar in their life. So I suppose if we eat like that we should all have very long lives...

And of course we have to sweat every day.

fufu said...

yeah cute letter box :)
but in kl, gap of the poor and rich is even significant :)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Fufu
Yeah...nice letter and newspaper box...I suppose have and have not gap is big in huge cities as usual.

Thanks for visiting. Have a good weekend.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Sarawakiana, very interesting post. I love her innovative ideas, especially her letter box.
And yes, I agree with you the government should lend a helping hand to farmers...it will benefit the country, the people as farms become productive.
But then again, politicians everywhere are the same...they help themselves first, then their cronies, their families, then before elections....the people.

You have a great weekend, best regards, Lee.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Uncle Lee...
kong pun boyong situation....

at my age...writing about things is just a matter of hobby...nothing can be changed but it still matters to speak our mind...

Hee Kang said...

Yes, you're right.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks Hee Kang....wow...I used to visit your grandma and grandpa (Yung Chiong Nee Ging and Nee Kiu)...if you chat with Kim Lau next...she will tell you who I am and I am staying quite near her in Miri.....I used to jumkp from one bale of rubber sheets to the next in the smoke house by the Toh Dau belonging to Lau Pang Sing....

Nice to know you are KL's son.....

Kungsiu said...

How come I can't remember that house. I used to go to visit the school quite often too. I must be getting old. :)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Kungsiu
Maybe you should go there again...and soon...

It is on the left side if you face towards the school. And do buy some of her local chickens and ducks.

Even better go during the durian season.

Kungsiu said...

I should, when I am in Malaysia in July.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Kungsiu
Wishing you a good trip to Sibu and Malaysia in July...you can always check with Wong Meng Lei at the Methodist Message Office in Sibu.

God bless.

Anthony said...

Good memory for my 18 years childhood in Bukit Lan. I think I recognized Madam Tiong. Like Hee Kang said, I used to pickup up the basket ball on the hill side of her house! I used to own the biggest rambutan tree in the village!

Anthony Ling

Mag said...

Hi, all your conversations just bring me down the memory lane. I visited the school and met this lady about 8 years ago. She asked me to bring some durians from her garden to her children in the town. Still look strong with loud voice. I used to stay 'back mountain'. Life was difficult then + political turmoil. sign!

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