June 18, 2014

Nang Chong Stories : Chung Cheng Secondary School, Middle Nang Chong

 The Chung Cheng Secondary School, situated on the West Bank of the Rajang, is one of the schools established by the Pioneering Foochows of Sibu. Founded by Lau Kah Hii, known as the Second Kang Chu of the Foochows in 1916. The first Kang Chu was Wong nai Siong who was in Sibu from 1901 to 1903.

When the Pioneering Foochows first came to Sibu they were farmers mainly who were seeking their fortunes in a new albeit challenging and swampy area. The soils of the Rajang Delta were not similar to the rich alluvial soils of the Min River, Fujian. Furthermore, the equatorial swamp forests welcomed the pioneers with mosquitoes, flies, snailes and all sorts of incredible creepy crawlies, pests and insects, not to mention poisonous snakes and deadly scorpions.

Within ten years however the "Foochow Settlement" was growing rapidly, crops were happily harvested and rubber had already inroads. This was due to the presence of Rev James Hoover who had the foresight of introducing rubber (he had contacts and associates in the then Malaya where his relatives were already growing rubber). The Foochows of Sibu, like their counterparts in Sitiawan took to the new cash crop rubber like it was gold.

The forerunner of Chung Cheng Secondary school was first called Kwong Nang Primary School and its first headmaster was Rev Yao Siaw King, the father of Dato Yao Ping Hua. In 1934 the school started its secondary school.

It was closed for a short period during the Japanese Occupation.

In 1946, Lau Kah Tii who had led a study group to China, came home to Sibu with General Chiang Kai Shek's blessing to change the name from Kwang nang Secondary School to Chung Cheng . Chung Cheng was the other name of General Chiang Kah Shek.

Historically speaking, Lau Kah Tii and his fellow compatriots had raised a large sum of money for the China War Relief fund 1939-1942. This fund raising campaign was supported by all the patriotic Foochows and other Chinese dialect groups in Sibu to support the Chinese war against the Japanese and to rally to the Rajah's call for finanacial help for the British.

In those days the Chinese were still patriotic to China, calling her their homeland . My grandmother mentioned about going "home to Tong Sang" from time to time. So did all the other pioneers. At that time they did not realise that they had planted their seeds which would grow roots and bear fruits for more than two generations with many more to come.

the Chinese were also loyal to the Rajah. Funds remitted to London and to China were all documented in the Sarawak Gazette in fairly good details.

Look at some photos below taken by Philip Hii very recently. The black and white effect is striking. They remind us of the 60's when most photos were black and white!

"The name Chung Cheng also means very bi partisan, ethical, correct and upright.

The school after the war, continued to be run by very good Foochow scholars like Lau Hieng Ying and Lau Kieng Sing etc.

It was a well known fact that the teachers of the school very dedicated and self sacrificing even though they were paid very low salaries. At the beginning of the history of the school, many of the teachers received only 30 dollars per month.

Students who graduated from the school became peace loving and useful citizens who served Sarawak well. One of the best Chung Cheng School graduates is none other than Dr. Tie King Tai, the Principal of the Methodist Theological College,Sibu. Another famous graduate of the school is Datuk Lau Hieng Ding, a Senator and Minister in the Federal Government of Malaysia. Lau Tze Cheng, a brilliant historian was also a product of the school.  The list is too long to appear here. But it can be said there is a multitude of  brilliant graduates and successful people from the school from 1916 to the present days. In 2016 it would be celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The school before it became a fully government aided school depended on its School Board of Directors who were generous and dedicated to the development of the school Even after it became a fully government aided school in 19 56, the Board of Directors continues to play a very important role. A very interesting part of the Chung Cheng school history was its role as an English Medium school in a rural setting. the oral stories as told by the Nang Chong people may long be forgotten but some are still treasured. Chung Cheng School, like many of the other Chinese schools in Sarawak, saw its fortunes changing with language policy changes in the country, from Chinese, to English and then to Bahasa Malaysia. Social cultural impact of the changes in the medium of instruction and other political changes call for lengthy discourse and this blog is too small for a lengthy discussion.

An important remains to be discussed is the fact that in 1946 the Chung Cheng school hostel was completed and ready for students from all around the Rejang Basin. This enabled many girls especially to be educated up to Senior Middle Three. The school created a large pool of capable Foochow women who penetrated the commercial and industrial sector of Sarawak. In fact this hostel can be considered a sister hostel to the Yuk Ing Girls' School hostel. the Yuk Ing Girls' School in Sibu became the Methodist Secondary School in 1949.

the chung Cheng School was an iconic school in a rural setting from 1916 but due to political, socio-economic changes, the school was reduced to a small stature. But memories continue to be magnificent in the minds of those who have been impacted by its influence.

Source : Lau Tze Cheng,"My Seven Years as a teacher in Chung Cheng School",p.262-286 from Lau Kah Tii, A Commemorative Album. Private Publication.
She was unconsoleable when she learned that my young brother Hsiung had passed away in 1981. She only knew about it in 1983 as we had kept the pre mature demise from her for two years. It was so sad to listen to her "Foochow wailing" (chiun kuoh) or the singing of funeral verses.Many people also said that she had cried so much that she became blind as she had lost her husband, her youngest son, three sons-in-law and a favourite daughter and then a grandson (my brother). In her wailing she mentioned all their names and memories of them.

(updated and re-posted from Sarawakiana)


Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

when my friend was teaching there, someone reported him to be a communist, he was arrested and sent to eat curry rice.

Ensurai said...

Can you give me the name please?

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