August 20, 2012

Nang Chong Stories : Cock Fighting

My third uncle was a very timid man and was firmly controlled to a certain degree by his wife. He went into partnership with his brother in law in road construction after he was a little over the hill as a wharf labourer. Being an honest man he was the best site supervisor any company could have even though he only had two years of primary school...an education interrupted by the Japanese OCCUPATION in Sarawak..

But it also meant that he had to be buddies with him in one of his favourite past times : cockfighting.


Cock fighting is definitely not a Foochow past time or hobby from the early pioneering days. The  Brooke Government had stipulated that no gambling should be allowed in the Sibu settlement. And Foochow pioneering leaders threatened newcomers that they would be shipped back to China if caught gambling..However a gambling centre was actually located in the town  for years!! Methodism had some how curbed the gambling tendencies of both men and women in Sibu. However in the 1970's the police were doing their best to eradicate this traditional native past time which some Chinese turned into a lucrative gambling hobby/business.

My uncle's brother in law reared a few champion fighting cocks and there was plenty to crow about. People came from far and wide to admire those strong fighters. Bets were increased whenever a good fighting chicken was produced. In tho1000!! Some were even wrapped in expensive Indonesian sarongs which had been blessed or jampi-ed!!

The cockfighting arena was moved from place to place to avoid police detection.and obviously the Chinese and the native friends were also very careful not to breathe any information to would be informants. It was a real cat and mouse game.

Lawyers were often employed to reduce illegal gambling charges and it was most amusing when fighting chickens were bought to the court as evidence. Lawyers were often amused by whatever statements the gamblers made in court and naturally witnesses were as different as the tribes of Sarawak....Often the judges who were amused ordered the fighting cocks to be slaughtered ..when the gamblers not only lost in their arguments but in monetary terms! All monies collected in the gambling place would be confiscated too. Losses were indeed great.

There was one occasion when my timid uncle came with a half alive fighting cock at about 8 p.m. He told us that he had walked all the way from the cock fighting arena  at about five when the police raided the party. Every one scattered into the jungle and he lost his brother in law in the skirmish but he was quick enough to capture the half dead cock and ran for his life.He lost a shoe and was thoroughly frightened.

Could his shoe if picked up by the police be part of the evidence? And he had to eat curry rice?

But mum was terrified too upon hearing the story. However our tenant was quick and he helped to dress the chicken and we cooked a huge pot of curry chicken and had a midnight feast. We had curry for a few days because the meat was so tough my mother had to stew the curry over and over again. The feathers were properly buried in the backyard.

That was the last time my third uncle went for a cock fight. But his brother in law continued to enjoy his cock fighting endeavours.
chicken coop...many handsome fighting cocks were kept in coops like this...


By the way for a long time many people in Nang Chong continued to enjoy rearing fighting cocks..some were said to be real winners.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cock fighting remained as the source of income of local gangsters for a long time. The gangster groups fought for the ground of cock fighting. I think the police knew about cock fighting, when and where it was organised everyday. However, they shut off both eyes with the rumour that the police has been given a share in the income. Once in a while, the police went to chase away these gangsters and let them ran into the bushes. There were some hawkers who made a bit of income by selling drinks and food at the cock fighting spot. The police chief also issued a few cock fighting licence a year in places like Julau or Kanowit. I suspect only the one who has connection with him, and who paid a lot, got the licence.

Ann said...

heheheh, lots of stories, but censored.

Simon Lee said...

It is surprise to me that cock fighting is still happening:) My kampung in taiping used to have many such competitions in those days, but nowadays hardly to see already:)

Simon

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Anonymous
thank you for the comments. Generally a lot of people have a lot to say about cockfighting in Sarawak. For a fact the Police will give out a good licence to an Iban longhouse chief or organiser when a Gawai is on and people from around the area will come and enjoy some cockfighting.

In Sibu in the recent years it might be a different story.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann

I am sure you have lots of stories..but at least share some with me..msg me..

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Simon...Sarawak still has some from time to time..some legal..some illegal...that's part of our culture..

To the Ibans for a fact..and in my opinion the cockfight is not for gambling all the time. It can be used to adjudicate a conflct!! And having some fighting cocks is a grand hobby...

sufyan khan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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