September 29, 2012

Amoy Road, Two Cycles of Rural-Urban Migration

Roads in Sibu have names like Foochow Road and Amoy Road to denote that these roads were designated for these two dialectic groups. In Miri, there are Hokkien. Hai Nam, Teochiew and Kwangtung Roads but no Foochow Road. Kuching has a whole area called Foochow Road area.

Interesting road names and history of development!!

However after more than half a century Sibu's Amoy Road is seeing a second wave of rural - urban migration - the indigenous people namely Ibans and Kayans are moving into the semi abandoned houses with their families after they have found fairly permanent work on construction sites and other menial industries. Those who are indigenous government civil servants have the benefit of government housing and also means to buy their own properties.

Immediately after the Japanese Occupation some of the community leaders were far sighted enough to ask for land to development new residential areas for labourers who were needed for urban development. The businessmen then were mostly Hockiens and Teochiew. From Mission Road to Amoy Road more and more move into the vicinity of Lanang Road. Bukit Assek or Ik Tek Kii was a Foochow domain. And then in 1968 the Communist threat caused the Foochows to move from their comfortable rubber gardens to Sibu. Tiong Hua Road exploded!!

40 years ago I used to ride my bicyle here(Amoy Road)  to visit some school those days..only a plank walk linked the houses together. Below the plank walk  was mud and at high tide...a sea of water. I wonder if my friends who used to live here ever come back for a visit......
In the 21st Century Amoy Road of Sibu is no longer the domain of the Hokkiens who were given the area as a starting point of their residences to help provide the man power for  the construction business of Sibu after the WWII. Ibans who have moved away from their long houses in Kapit and Song are now residing in these semi-abandon houses. The original Chinese house owners have moved out to better residential areas. While waiting for further urban development the Chinese owners are renting out these homes to the low income earning Ibans. Young Iban children grow up here and attend the nearby Chinese primary schools. Most of them speak Mandarin they learn from school.
The Chinese lanterns would indicate that the occupants in these "long houses" in Amoy are still Chinese.  Motor bikes and bicyles are still the main modes of transport. Cars would clog up the small Amoy Road...Lane?

Whether the development in Sibu in this area would be rapid or not depends on the political situation of the day. anything can happen. And any speed can be engaged.

I only hope that ethics will play a big role in development and corporations practise there policies of ethical responsibilities and giving back to the community.

Dedicated to all my friends who used to cycle with me......cheers and good health....

(Photo credits : Steve Ling Leh Tiong)

September 28, 2012

Eternal Home - made in Sibu DVD 2012

Photo: Promoting the new DVD produced by the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference of the Methodist Church..a first  Movie Made in Sibu..."Eternal Home" Vocalist :Rau  Yieng Ting....available in the Methodist Message Office...
This DVD is a short movie made by the Methodist Chinese Annual Conference - Media Division.
Called the Eternal Home it is based on a true story of a young woman who lost her husband in a road accident. The sound track  is excellent and the vocalist is a well known Christian singer from West Malaysia.

The DVD is RM15.00 and is available at the Methodist Message Office or the Media Division upstairs. Call 084333028.

Only 1000 copies made.... With English and Bahasa Subtitles.

September 20, 2012

Foreign Men and Women who had lived in Sibu (2). Rev Jaleb Manurung

The Reverend Jaleb Manurung came to Sarawak  in the 1950's where four of his daughters were born. He first served in Kapit where he and his fellow workers went by long boats to all the different longhouses to evangelize. It must have been a great sacrifice for him and his family to live in rather stringent conditions in Kapit in those years when transport and all amenities were really minimal. But he had a heart for his fellowmen and he believed in bringing Light to them. Even though there were lots of tribulations and uncertainties for him especially and also for his growing family he consistently marched on.

when he and his family came down to Sibu they had to ride in the double decker motor launch which would take two days and a night. A stay in Sibu would mean putting up at the Hoover House for a few nights. Mrs. Manurung would see a dentist or a doctor and perhaps buy some materials for making clothes. Some meagre necessities would also be purchased .

He and his family lived in No.72 Lanang Road during the last few years of his service in Sarawak. They returned to Indonesia when his contract with the Methodist Iban Church was complete in the late 1960's. One of his daughters remained in Malaysia to continue serving the Sarawak Government with great distinction.

Rev. Jaleb and Rev. Philemon (White Jacket) at their ordination (Photo from Donny Sirait)

Rev Manurung was a man of great talents. He could sing and play the organ besides preaching very well in Iban in longhouses and in the various Iban Churches in Sibu and Kapit. He was a very humble and low profile man. Perhaps behind his thick glasses he had that twinkle in the eye.

All his children are brilliant in their studies because he and his wife made sure that they studied well and did all their homework.

His command of the Iban language was remarkable and I remember listening to him preach with great awe.

Mrs. Manurung was a great tailor and a sewer of cross stitch besides being a great helper to Rev Manurung.

She kept the house in Lanang road absolutely clean and tidy. I miss swimming in the Rajang River behind their house. Those were my growing up years with the Manurungs and perhaps that was also one of the factors which helped me become more global in outlook. Thanks to this family I have a big world view . I am still happily in touch with the daughters in Indonesia via email and facebook. Their second daughter is still in government service in Sarawak..

September 16, 2012

Sarawak's Amazing Toilets : (1) Igan

Men has to move his bowels at least once a day....and how do you like your toilet to be like? Could you go
Photo by Steve Ling Leh Tiong

"go" in this natural and simple toilet?

The open sea becomes the natural sewage....Probably you may need to bring your bucket of water for cleansing "after".

(Look out for more photos and short captions in my blog under this heading....)

September 13, 2012

Foreign Men and Women who had lived in Sibu : (l) 顾彼得, Peter Goullart

In the 1950's there was a Cooperative Society Consultant who used to sit in a corner coffee shop in Sibu.  He was Peter Goullart who helped start many cooperative society in Sarawak, including the one in Nang Chong and another one in 24 Acres. He was a welcomed visitor in Tulai too where people remember him as a man who spoke beautiful Chinese. They called him Bee Teck. The Tulai Cooperative Store (in fact a shop house) is still standing but not in use.

He captured his memoirs of his life in Sarawak in his well known book entitled " The River  of the White Lily: Life in Sarawak". He wrote about his visits to Bukit Lan which he called Hills of the Cassia Orchid (p.87).

River of the White Lily by Peter Goulart
Available in most bookshops.
ISBN: 983197587-1

Unknown to many:

He was born in Russia in the beginning of the 20th Century into a well-educated family, and spent his youth in Moscow and Paris. He was interested in the Orient from an early age. After Bolshevik Revolution he fled to China and eventually settled in Shanghai in 1924.
He spoke perfect Chinese and was often helping out other Europeans in their business trips. He also lived in Lijian for more than 8 years.
Goullart documented life and customs of inhabitants of this remote region, in particular, Nakhi People, in his first book, Forgotten Kingdom. (Sourced from: Wikipedia)

In 1949 he left China and stayed in Singapore where he wrote about his travels. He was recruited by the Sarawak Government to help develop the Cooperative Societies of Sarawak.

Today you can still many remnant shop houses which bear the signboards "Cooperative Society of Tulai" for example. Rural Chinese who are in their 70's and 80's from the Rajang would remember him as a man who worked hard and "liked to walk in the remote places". 

He died in Singapore on June 5, 1978.

His Books


Front Cover

Other Books
1. Report on the industrial cooperatives of Likiang, Yunnan, 1945.
2.  Princes of the Black Bone. Life on the Tibetan Borderlands, J. Murray, 1959.
3.  Land of the lamas: Adventures in secret Tibet, Dutton, 1959.

When I have the time it would be an adventure if my friends from Sibu could follow the trails he made and photograph some of the places he and his friend Poh Chuan had been too....


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