March 3, 2013

Nang Chong Stories : Hii Wen Hui and Haji the Beef Stall Owner at SCM

Who is the most famous beef vendor of Sibu Central Market? Who is the faithful halal beef supplier who started working for his father and uncle since he was just 12 years old?

Haji as we always call him speaks very good English. His stall is the "saviour" of everyone in Sibu because he opens 7 days a week. 24/7 unless local fresh cows supply is zero. His brother is his assistant who helps him sell beef and curry paste.And in many ways, his curry paste has had a very steady price for the last ten years.

And how did he learn English? He attributed his good English to his English teacher and Principal, the late Mr. Hii Wen Hui who came from Nang Chong Village. And how did a Foochow from Nang Chong learn such good English?

The late Hii Wen Hui was one of the earliest students of the Senior Cambridge Class in the Methodist Secondary School, Sibu. Most of his peers ended up as English teachers like Lau Kieng Sing and Wong Teck Moh. Mr. Hii taught in Chung Cheng School, Kwang Hua School and finally became Principal of the Rajang Secondary School before he retired and went into business.

Visiting Sibu's central market means I would buy a small packet of curry paste, mixed by Haji. He and I are about the same age. I think he gave me extra curry paste. This is the practice of most vendors in the Sibu Central Market where the vendors are always very generous to nice people.

Haji : "Mr. Hii was a marvellous teacher. He explained very carefully and very clearly. We learned verbs, tenses, adjectives, adverbs from him. And I can still remember how he talked in the class. We were never shamed when we made mistakes. We laughed sometimes because learning was really fun."





Haji : "Mr. Hii knew that I was working at my father's stall since I was in Primary Six. So when I joined Form One in Rejang Secondary School, after I failed my Primary Six Entrance Exam, I was very happy to have such good teachers in the private school, which was sited near Sacred Heart School. I learned a lot even though I was tired from working part time."

Haji : "After my secondary school I continued working as a beef  and curry paste stall owner. That has been my life for the last sixty over years......In most places it is an Indian man who owns the curry stall. But in Sibu, it has been just my family. This is our history."

jintan putih



"Mr. Hii was really a nice man. Very good man. He was so humble and kind. His Mrs. was a small lady who was very quiet. I think today we cannot find teachers like those old teachers of the older style. They were really special. And also, their salary was very small. They drove simple cars, wore simple clothes....Really miss those days...."

I know that Haji is a very sincere man and I am so touched by his words and his memory of my kind uncle, the late Mr. Hii Wen Hui. Many people of Nang Chong continue to remember him with great fondness and admiration.

Tuan Haji is a typical Sibu Malay man who is humble and full of compassion for his fellow men and women. I am glad I know this Sibu man.


Anonymous said...

I deeply moved by your writing with my on/off reading your blog. This "Haji" man really sold things very moderately in price. I always went to buy from him and he even taught how to cook proper curry!
You should ask him if he ever wrote sthg related blog so that many Sibu people will continue to read on despite living thousand of miles apart from home.
Take care, Sarawakianaii.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes one can get so used to buying beef from one person for more than 40 years!! Our butcher kind of thing. Haji's curry paste/mixture is always so fresh. Whenever I get curry paste from others in other places I find that mistakes can be made. Sometimes the dishonest ones can even destroy our cooking. Sour paste!! I shall ask Haji if he has facebook or not. then you can all make friends with him. Cheers.

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