March 17, 2016

Sibu Tales : Timber Company Shares

When the 1960's rubber, rice and pepper industry were at their lowest depths, a bright spark shot into the economic horizon of the Sibu Foochows. Ramin was King!!

Many people were in a hurry to invest in logging camps, sawmills, tug boats. While some were really limited companies, others were more or less cooperatives or a conglomeration of several families like KTS and Lee Hua Sawmill to name two famous ones.

There were scams too in those days.

A family was even known to have been split because of investment in a timber company. An gracious and generous uncle approached the elder son of the family to invest and had requested that all the brothers and sisters should jointly invest. However the oldest sister in law was slightly too clever for the likes of the family. She wanted to earn the commission from the brothers and sisters in law.  So by asking her three brothers in law and two sisters in law to invest at full price of the shares, she earned more than enough to get her own share free.
The Foochow call a log raft, "Char beh."
When the siblings heard about the matter, they were really very angry because by family relationship and transparency,they should all have been given a good discount.

However,as the Foochows have a famous metaphorical saying, "Not all the fingers on our hands are equal in length," there was a poor brother in the family. The mean eldest sister-in-law did not even bother to ask him!! Thus the poorest of the brothers-in-law did not invest although he could have been able to raise enough money with the help of one loving sister.. He and his wife were the angriest of all. For more than 20 years the family were very cold towards each other. And the youngest brother was definitely the most angry of old.

When the old mother-in-law was sick in bed, she was still unforgiving. And she did put a curse on the eldest daughter-in-law. And as all good people have a good ending, the old mother-in-law had lived out her good long life with the youngest and most filial son who led a very humble but hard working life.

According to a friend, if the whole family had bought up the allotted shares sold at that time, they could have become the majority shareholders of the company and would have been rich beyond their dreams. But with family disputes like that, the family members also sold out to others,leaving the oldest sister in-law as one of the minority share holders.

So this lady wasn't that smart after all.

That is definitely only one of the many timber stories of the Rajang.


Anonymous said...

There was even a court case whereby a timber tycoon was caught smuggling ramin which was then banned for export during colonial times. And that tycoon even engaged lee Kuan Yew as his defence lawyer. But LKY lost the case and he appealed and lost the case again. Do u know which that tycoon is? It must be in the 1950s. I supposue after independence with 'money', everything is no longer banned!!!

Anonymous said...

there was a photo of LKY in sibu, published in the newspaper when he died.

Anonymous said...

I think that was in the 1990's

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