June 28, 2014

Sungei Teku : Its Small Beginning

When Dr. Brewster, in Putien, heard about Wong Nai Siong bringing a group of Foochow agriculturists to Sibu, he was inspired to bring his Heng Hua brethrens to follow this plan. He travelled to Sarawak to make a petition to the White Rajah with the help from Rev James Hoover. Soon,he brought the Heng Hua people to Sibu to join the Foochow settlers in 1912, which was 11 years after the first batch of Foochows arrived . The new immigrants were allocated land north of the Sungei Merah which extended up to Sg. Teku.

Here is a recent photo of the beautiful Sg. Teku which I took on a memorable trip to the area where many of my school mates grew up.
One of the loveliest "apparitions" I managed to capture a few years ago in Sg. Teku. These are weeds floating down the Teku River. On dry days the river is almost gone.

Rev Ling Kai Cheng
The Heng Hua Migration story was captured in a book written by Wong Meng Lei to coincide with the Heng Hua's  Centenary Celebration in Sibu. What a fantastic migration story!!   A small group of 100+ Heng Hua people started their farm land and prospered in the last 100 years in an almost uninhabitable land, in a small dot in Borneo island.

One man was truly the catalyst to fire the enthusiasm of the Heng Huas. AHeng Hua himself and a Methodist, he was none other than Rev Ling kai Cheng. He noted that a small church was already built on top of a hill. Going up the hill was tough for the people every Sunday and Rev Cheng who was asked to help with the Church service every Sunday asked the people why they should build the church on top of the hill. The Heng Hua farmers said that was the only piece of land available.

So Rev. Cheng asked if they would like to have a piece of land he could donate  if they on their part, help build the road and build the church and school They happily agreed. This was the beginning of the Teku Methodist Church and the Methodist Kian Hin Primary School. Rev Ling donated a piece of land which was 6 acre big and that formed the foundation of the Kian Hing School and The Methodist Church of Sg. Teku.

Below is the 21 st Century version of the Methodist church property, part of the land donated by the kind and generous Rev Ling Kai Cheng.

Sg. Teku today is a far cry from the sparsely populated farm land of the early 20th century.

A small satelite town of Sg. Teku today. In the 1960's there were only two shops and one bus stop, a Methodist Church Clinic, one Methodist Church and a primary school. The Parsonage was a centre for many activities!!

This should help you think of those difficult days.....

1910-1920 - Rev Ling Kai Cheng cycled to Sg. Teku to preach

1930 - 1940 - Most people walked

1950 - One bus only

1960 -  A few buses , a few taxis and some cars
Many students cycled to school in Sibu.

1970 = motor bikes, taxis, cars and lorries

N/B When I started teaching in the Methodist Secondary School in 1976, Rev Ling continued to cycle to the school to meet up with the Principal, and for other occasions. He was a man who had a great heart for the development of the Methodist School, which in fact owed him for the significant moment too, for deciding to acquire that piece of property for future Methodist Church work.

Rev Ling was always the gentle, grand old man who rode his bicycle slowly, from the town to his home at Hose Lane, some times dropping by at the school.

Later on many students were humbled when they realised that he was a millionaire who rode  an old bicycle.

Many years later a daughter of Tuai Rumah Ranggong told me what her father  used to say to her, "True Love and true wealth cannot be hidden...." And indeed in his life, Rev Ling who knew many Ibans in Kapit,  Sibu,  Teku showed his love for the indigenous Christians by proposing churches for the Ibans in Kapit, Tutus etc. His wealth was indicated by the number of churches he helped to conceptualize and built.

We indeed saw his love for people and the true wealth, not only in terms of money, was also obvious to people who knew him. He was a man who respected people of all races and religions.

He was truly a man who was brought by the grace of God to Sibu.


Anonymous said...

Sudah lima tahun saya berpindah dari sibu. Miss Sibu town very much. Thanks for frequently updating which I follow every now and then.

Ensurai said...

Hi Jay..hope you are fine and working well. Hope to hear from you from time to time too...Continue to write when you have the time.

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