February 14, 2013
Sale and Purchase Agreement in Bintangor (Binatang) 1930
Paul Ling kindly showed me a Chinese Sale and Purchase document of the Rajah Period of Sarawak. It is an amazing document reflecting the proper code of conduct of the Foochows in the 1920's and 1930's (The Republic of China 19th Year ). Legal work was mainly done by the educated people together with the headmen of the various areas who were given jurisdiction by the Rajah and the government to carry out civil matters.
This is a fantastic story of a Sale and Purchase of a one month year old boy. It would be impossible today to think of making arrangements like this in a lawyer's office or even a Temenggong's office.
The signatories were :
Father of the boy child : Ngu Heng Hwang
Mother : Ngu Yek Lien Choon
Broker : Kong Siew Choon
Officiating Person : (Chinese Headman) Tiong Kung Ping
Witness and Documentor : Yao Siew King
on 17th May 19th Year of the Republic of China (1930) .
My grandfather is on the extreme right. Ling Ming Lok and Ling Ching Tu are the other two.
Note the signatures of Rev Yao Siew King and my grandfather's. Most women in those days could not read and write. So they used their thumbprints.
The Chinese characters tell the tale of Ling Ming Lok buying a MALE child from the Ngu family who were in dire straits. The sale price is 110 ( silver) dollars, which is a token for the Ngu family, to compensate them for the bearing of the child and the confinement for the natural or birth mother. The agreement also states that the Ling family would see to the upbringing of the boy who is already out of his first month i.e. full moon.
Ngu was a labourer and his wife was a farmer.
This is a long piece of paper on which a Sale and Purchase Agreement is written and the Chinese brush is still in excellent condition. The red paper (happy event using red paper) is now very friable. The writing was of Chinese brush and Chinese ink with the excellent and famous penmanship of Rev. Yao Siew King.
The photo shows Paul Ling, the grandson of the Purchaser , Ling Ming Lok, who has kept this for about 40 years. This is an 83 years old document. His Grandmother passed the document to him for keeping.
The document is very properly written and is legally binding. It also shows that our beloved Rev Yao Siew King was a very learned man.
The four characters "gua die mian chang" can be taken to mean (gua and die mean small cucumber, mian chang mean endless long) "wishing the couple have a lot of grandchildren and a prosperous generation" Very good wishes from Rev Yao and Ling Ming Lok.
(Thank you Ling Huong Yian for the translation)
And indeed the Ling family of Bintangor prospered.
It is good that historical documents are kept by family members for safe keeping. A huge chunk of history can be retrieved from a primary source like this.
Thank you Paul.
(More stories to tell soon - so watch this space)