When we were young there was a road called Exchange Road connecting the most famous road in Sibu in my opinion - the Island Road - and Pulau Road. As primary school kids we would take this road whenever we wanted to use a smaller and less congested road to go to the only sports field then - the King George Memorial Ground when it was first built and then later named The Duke of Edinburgh's Memorial Ground in honour of the Duke of Edinburgh's visit in 1962. Later this padang changed its name to Padang Datuk Pattinggi Tuanku Bujang. Today the whole padang is gone and on it stands the tallest building of Sarawak - the Sanyan Building.
On both sides of the small link road were big and deep ditches. Adults and children would look for fresh water snails (their lunch or dinner)in these ditches. At high tide the ditches would be full. When floods swept over the whole of Sibu town cars would even drive into the dtiches and lorries would have to be called to pull them out. And funnily several of us had actually fallen into the ditches because we were in a hurry. I can still hear the bicycle bells ringing frantically to signal hurriedness or danger as I write this. I had always wondered why it was called the Exchange Road.
Lovely Meranti trees growing in a row now make a pretty picture along this road which is called Jalan Sanyan. They do make a nice border and a good landmark for people to watch out for.
There is only one senior government quarters left standing in this part of Sibu now. This used to be a senior government quarters for senior Colonial Officers and later senior Malaysian government officers. iThe quarters used to have a separate unit for their amah and houseboy or cook. While the officers might be transferred out of Sibu the househelp stayed permanently.
At one time we were so poud that one of the local Sibu Foochows became a very senior officer in the government service and he and his family lived here. Unfortunately he was too high up for many to say hi to. This is still a norm as one moves away from certain social circles one becomes alienated from the lower ranks. Few people can mix well amongst different circles - the usual excuse would be "no time".
Thus at a very young age I learned that we could not simply call any one a relative if he was highly placed in the government. That was the time I learned about keeping social distances. Even if we were related to these high officials we could not visit them because we had to "keep our distances". Because we lost our father early in our life we found it even hard to "recognise our relatives" for fear they would say that they did not know us. We too needed to have our "face" saved...My mum's greatest mission in life is to protect her children.'s well being and thus we were told not to do certain things like visiting people or relatives uninvited or to take food from people. Those were the days!!
During the confrontation and communist days this particular house had a guard who helped to buiild even more social walls.
A car park here generates good income (perhaps for Maksak or another company).
By the way the older Foochows used to call the Governor Tui Wong (King) and Resident - Ni Wong (Second King). The District Officer was the San Wong (third king). I wonder how many still remember this. I used to smile whenever my grand uncles and aunties talked in this a long time ago. Nowadays it would be Tansili or Latuksli or Latuk.....in the Foochow dialect when we drop big names.
I believe many of my contemporaries will remember this area and the kind of security it has throughout our secondary school days. Later many changes took place here because of changes in governments and government policies.
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