April 6, 2010
Thian Chin Primary School of Bukit Lan
Last weekend I had a rare opportunity to go down memory lane with Meng Lei (Rajang Basin) and Thomas Lau (Melbourne). We made a road trip. It has been too long for me. Meng Lei grew up in 24 Acres a village next to Bukit Lan. I used to visit my Uncle who was then a Chinese teacher in Thian Chin Primary school.
Thian Chin Primary School was started at 1953 by the local people. The school was under the supervision of the Roman Catholic Church at Bukit Lan --St Peter's Church. In 1955 a small but lovely hill property was acquired and more classrooms were built to make it a proper school.
In 2001 due to lack of students the school moved to Soon Hup Garden, opposite the Sibu General Hospital. In June 2002 the new school building was completed.
The names of the principals:
2. 1974 - 1978林婆生
3. 1979 刘忠仪代校长
4. 1979-1981 黄笃平
It was always a great joy for me to be able to visit Uncle Lau Pang Kui and Aunt Ting Ing Nga . A visit to the down river settlement really appealed to me as I would get to sit in a slow motor launch for more than half a day. Upon arrival at the Kung Thai jetty we would walk to the school which was half an hour away from the river. In later years my grandmother would ride pillion on a Japanese motor bike. I also remember that it was common for people to "lumbang" others on their bicycles. The bicycle remains a very important mode of transport until today.
Till today I admire men who "lumbang" their old mothers on their bicycles. that was really a clear essence of filial piety. This image will forever remain in my mind.
The visits definitely helped me become determined to be good at maths and languages. I liked to look at the exercise books and how my aunt ticked the correct answers and signed her name. And I learned that it was important to keep our exercise books filled with class work and homework neatly. Some how I became really diligent in my class work in later years. May be that was why I became a school teacher and enjoy writing all the time.
My aunt was a good story teller and her stories are amazing. All her children and I would gather around her and listen to her telling stories I still remember them until today - more than 40 years later.
The school had quarters for my uncle's family and they were there for quite a number of years until my Uncle retired and then moved to Sibu in the 1980's. My cousins have become very prominent professionals and the two girls are wives of very important people in Sarawak.
A Chinese saying still remains on one of the walls "Hard work will reward you...Fun will result in nothingness......"
A school assembly bench remains solitary at a corner....
A Foochow Stove is all that is left behind in the kitchen. My aunt used to cook great dishes....
Another view of the school...
The School name remains...no sign of English of Bahasa Malaysia ...
My uncle Lau Pang Kui passed away a few years ago. Being very philosophical he would only sigh if he could see this school being abandoned because of rural-urban migration.
My aunt is now long retired but is happy in Sibu where she is near her children.
Where have the laughter of children gone?
Bats greeted - winged across the empty hall.
Where fragrant flowers used to bloom
Weeds fill their space and climb the wall
Where sounds of cooking filled the room
Only spider webs can be seen hanging.
Even the family photos on the wall are gone.