May 28, 2012

Old Police Station of Sungei Merah (Sibu)

How many hills are there in Sibu? Do you know any which brings you lots of memories and happiness?

Sibu is an island formed out of mud flats from sediments brought by the Mighty Rajang for hundreds of years. In the 1800's the island was not occupied. Next to the island was a Malay-Melanau settlement..probably not even called Sibu in those days. In 1862 the Rajah Brooke erected a Fort Brooke at the confluence of the Igan and the Rajang just in case the Marauding Ibans could cause havoc. That could have initiated the beginnings of Sibu. Perhaps even by then some Chinese had already established a small bazaar at the mouth of the Lembangan River which cuts the Sibu island from the mainland. So it can be said that at one end of the island was a bazaar and at the other end of the island a Fort.

Opposite the Sibu Island is Pulau Kerto where there is a cemetery called Kwang Foo Cemetery which can reveal the burial dates of many of the early settlers of Sibu.

Interestingly hills can also tell tales in the past. Some of the best historical remnants are hill stations owned by planters and colonialists like in the Peninsular Malaya and India. Many famous forts have stood the test of times on top of hills. Some of the most ancient castles in Europe of course were built on strategic hills.

In Sibu one remarkable hill is the hill on which one of the oldest police stations in Sarawak is built - the Sungei Merah Police Station. Other famous hills in Sibu are  Bukit Aup and the few rolling hills between Sungei Merah and Bukit Aup which have been snapped by for burial purposes. Further inland the rolling hills today have been tamed by oil palm plantations or flattened for residential development.

Old Police Station of Sungei Merah

Unfortunately this beautiful police station has been moved to another place in Sungei Merah and a huge Police Complex has been built. The Malaysian Government has modernised the Police Department. Many have said that this 19th century" post" must be demolished...and a new site for the police established to created "transformation"

the Police towards the end of the 20th century had a makeover - new dark blue uniforms with brilliant silver buttons. The Bush Jacket style has replaced the ordinary tropical cotton shirts of navy blue. The higher officers' KHAKI look is completely wiped out by the navy blue of the force.

I used to really enjoy the morning drills performed by the Police..As the sun got hotter we were quite happy to stay a little longer to watch the Drill Sargeant shouting out his commands. 

A show of drilling and fancy footworks every morning does make the commoner have slightly more respect for a well trained police force.

Many people would miss visiting the Sungei Merah Police Station on the hill..I used to enjoy the walk up the hill and saying hello to one or two of the POLICEWOMEN there. Manned mainly by locals then (1990's) the Police in the station did their duties as well as they should and with only three or four of them it was really quite interesting. You sort of feel that " problem in Sungei Merah.."

But a few cases did reinforcement had to be brought in from the Sibu Central Police Station..

I believe in the future even the word Station would become obsolete. because at the present moment terms like HQ/Opis/Pusat/etc have been in use by the younger generation..

Back to the main point of hills....Sibu is flat as far as the eye can see now because a lot of the other smaller hills have been removed to provide building materials for housing development.

My relatives used to own a hill is like owning a gold mountain.

The Police Station should be considered Gold Mountain for the people of Sbiu..and if the Mini Museum takes off and a beautiful park can be will be good for the community...Hills bring in good spirits. They help people to "look up to the hills and cry out to God from when help will come..."

Hills are alive with music..(from the film "The Sound of Music")...and in fact some of the best musicians in the world are mountain people. Thinkers would go up into the hills and mountains for retreats and come back refreshed.

Yes..if you are tired of walking and working on flat the evenings walk up to the old Police Station in Sunger Merah ...... sit on the blue steps and watch the sunset..and think of all those people in the past who helped Sungei Merah and Sibu develop into what they are today......It would be a marvellous experience..which money cannot buy.


Anonymous said...

people in the past avoided the police station and the cemetery in Sungei Merah. I remember my parents pulling us away fast fast ..

ah Ling

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Ah Ling...

Yes my parents did the same too...and we often passed by the Sungei Merah cemeteries to go to the old Airport. We would all sit on the floor of the car and asked "Past the cemetery already?"

It was a relief to hear my father say..."Already"

Ann said...

Yesterday, my pastor said a top question when traveling with kids is " Are we there yet?" Your question and mine about the cemetary gives this Ang Mo question a totally new meaning.

I remember we even tried to cover our mouth to stop ourselves from talking so we don't let slip a siblings name. Lest.... we did, and the ghost comes for that sibling that night.

But my Heng Hua friends say, some of them even sit on the grave stones in the evening drink their KOPI because it is cooling there.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I like the last paragraph....I wonder if all Heng Huas are not afraid of the cemeteries!!
Even "going to Sungei Merah" became a metaphor for "die".....remember that?

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