The well known community leader of Sibu the late Mr. Lau Kah Tii had tremendous power and status after Rev James Hoover (who held the reigns in the management of Sibu for more than 30 years) passed away. Lau's accumulated wealth from rubber and business investment enabled him to build the biggest mansion in the whole of Rajang in Ensurai and he also had a very large and outstanding family.
But little is known about his daughters who were well educated and married to good men well approved by him.
Tang Yu Tung was a very eligible bachelor at that time - educated and a school teacher and especially recruited from China. So the eldest and Sibu born daughter of the community leader fell in love with and married Teacher Tang. Together the family lived on his meagre salary of $30!! What a romantic story!!
Most of the children from this marriage live outside Sibu. In a way it is true to say that by the third generation many of the Foochow families have already moved away from Sibu. However most of them retain the good virtues of Foochow family men : no drinking-no gambling- no scandals - and most important of all - fear of God.
Recently I caught up with some family stories when I met my cousin retired teacher Tang Chock Tiing who has been living in Miri since he was 18. He and his brother came to Miri to seek their fortunes. They became teachers and were later trained in the Rajang Teachers' Training College.
Today as a retiree he visits the Pasiaran Kabur every other day and meets up with old friends. He continues to have deep thoughts about education and its great value.
Faithful and very decent and a gentleman he has many good characteristics of old time scholar.
His students love him as a teacher who has good memory and a love for teaching. He has a keen mind and a great sense of humour.Some of his students love to tell stories about having fun with him in the basketball court.
He is only about 10 years younger than my mum and together they experienced the Japanese Occupation and struggled through those lean years. He and his brother Chock Ming remembered the old Foochow customs practice of kneeling and bowing when my maternal grandfather passed away just before the end of the war. It is good to hear from them that my maternal grandfather was well loved by all.
Their earlier years in Sibu was harsh and tough. They found going to school a struggle as they had to tap rubber like all the other Foochow kids who lived along the river valley. By the time they were 18 after Senior Middle Three they had to move out to seek their fortune. It was a time when insurance and banking were not even terms they had heard of. To borrow $1000 for medical care in Singapore was unheard of as such an serious medical expenditure would mean the selling of a few acres of rubber land!! During the post war period frugal and impoverished Foochows might even consider to just allow an old man struggle through the last stages of illness than send him to Singapore for treatment!! But the filial sons did manage to work it out and their beloved father was taken to Singapore for treatment.
The two of them (like two peas in a pod) came to Miri and later married two Hainanese sisters. The two brothers live next door to each other and continue to be supportive of each other.
Chock Tiing and his brothers are good examples of good lasting sibling relationship. It is so good to see them together in coffee shops and in some social functions.