September 8, 2014

Sibu Tales : Headman Lau Kah Tii and Lau Sing Chiong

Headman Lau Kah Tii, after he cut of his pig tail. Photo taken around 1930


Lau Sing Chiong, father of Lau Tze Cheng



Translated adapted from "The Lau Kah Tii 127th Anniversary Memorial Anthology" Compiled by Lau Pang Hun  P 174-175

The Beginning:

To understand the history of the Lau Kah Tii clan of Sibu, one must go back to the life story of my maternal great grandfather Lau Kek Chung of Chieng San Yiong, Ming Chiang, Fujian.

Great GRandfather married a Miss Hii and had three sons, and a daughter : Kah Tung, Kah Tii and Kah Chui.


His eldest son, Kah Tung was born in 1869 on April 11th. Grand Uncle Kah Tii was born in 1878 in April 25th, while the youngest, my maternal grandfather Kah Chui was born in 1882. When my great grandmother passed away in 1881 at the young age of 40, my grand uncle Kah Tii was 3 years old, and my grandfather l year old!! Grand Uncle Kah Tung was 12 years old.

Thus my great grandfather became a single father of three sons and a daughter. He had only 4 points of land (to be verified later) to cultivate rice to raise his children. During the late Qing Dynasty this was considered just below poverty level.

He raised ducks and chickens, planted vegetables and was a subsistence farmer in the modern sense.  How did he manage to raise his family.

My only grand aunty was soon married off and  Grand Uncle Kah Tung married Miss Hii who passed away early and he later married a Miss Wong who gave birth to daughter, Nee Mui and then a son Sing Chiong.

Life must have been quite a struggle. It was the end of the Qing Dynasty and politically China was unstable, bandits were every where, murders were common, people were kidnapped, women were taken and sold and there were a lot of civil unrest.

But God's providence came in the person of Wong Nai Siong, a Methodist Evangelist ,who encouraged young and able Foochows to follow him to Sibu, Sarawak. Grand Uncle Lau Kah Tii decided that he and his younger brother, my grandfather, should take the opportunity to find a new life in Sarawak.

In 1901 the two Lau brothers left China, to form the Second Batch of Foochow pioneers to arrive in Sibu. Soon Grand Uncle Lau Kah Tii was able to send money back to China and life was better for the family.

My great grandfather Kek  Chung passed away in 1912 and in the following year Grand Uncle Kah Tung passed away because of jaundice, at a young age of 44. Uncle Sing Chiong was only 3years old at that time and Aunty Nee Mui was only 5 years old. Grand Uncle Kah Tii went to China to bury both his father and his eldest brother. It was a very sad occasion.

 The Education of Lau Sing Chiong

The whole family after the death of Grand Uncle Kah Tung, was supported by Grand Uncle Kah Tii, who sent money regularly from Sarawak.  Uncle Sing Chiong went to Chieng San Primary School in Ming Chiang, and a secondary school in San Du's King San School and then moved to Luk Du's Woon Chuong Secondary school to complete his education. In 1931 he became a teacher in his own primary school, Chieng San.
Marriage and Migration to Sarawak

When Uncle Sing Chiong reached the age of 18 he married the daughter of Mr. Wong Meu Jie. Her name was Wong Hung Kiew. In 1929, Lau Kung Hui was born and the following year Lau Kung Huong aka Lau Tze Cheng. A third son, Lau Kung Yew was born but unfortunately he succumbed to polio three years later.

In 1935 Grand Uncle Lau Kah Tii decided that Uncle Sing Chiong was not faring well in China as a teacher. So he was brought to Sibu and was made a rubber plantation supervisor, looking after 400 acres of rubber trees. On top of that Grand Uncle also gave him 15 acres of land on the river bank of Ensurai and 40 acres of land at the back of Ensurai so that he could have a fairly good income. What a wonderful gift!!

The family home in China continues to be maintained by a family member and Sarawak relatives visit the ancestral home from time to time.


He and his family members have always been thankful for this opportunity to migrate to Sarawak and to his uncle Lau Kah Tii for his generosity and love.



Note : In the Qing Dynasty, a family looked out for each other and made sure that the siblings and the siblings' children were all considered as one family. I remember my mother calling all her grand uncles in consecutive number. Thus my maternal grandfather may be the third son within the family, he was placed No.5 within the whole family after their grandfather, which means my great great grandfather. Now we are lost in the counting....








2 comments:

sintaicharles said...

Thanks for the valuable information about your family history. It encourages me to write about mine.

Ensurai said...

You are most welcome. You must write about your family history.