September 17, 2017
Sungei Merah Tales : The Name of Sin Chu Wang
Today on my 68th birthday I am choosing this topic for my blog post. A part of me is still in Sg. Merah where the history of the Foochows began.
Have a great day and read this special elaboration by How K Wuong. Posting with gratefulness to thinkers like How K Hwong.
Here's a bit of history about the naming of Sungai Merah (as a locality) in Chinese during the early pioneering days, according to some Chinese articles that I've read recently.
It was first called 新厝安 (Mandarin: Xīn cuò ān), Foochow "Sing Cuo Ang", where Sing=new, Cuo=house, Ang=peaceful or safe and sound. This name was in fact a broad transliteration of the name 'Seduan' (see-du-ahn) as in Sungai Seduan, the official name of the "Red River".
The name 新厝安 reflected the aspirations of the pioneers when they started to build a new life from scratch in what must have been an unimaginably challenging environment.
Later, owing to the need for a designated burial ground, approval was sought from the authority and a piece of vacant land nearby was allocated as 義山 or 墓山, cemetary (muo-lang). Because the land was provided on a 'lease' (rent 租) basis, the surrounding area became known as 新租山 (New Rented Hill), Xīn Zū Shān. In Foochow, it would have been called "Sing Zu Sang" (Sing-ʒu-lang).
The name later evolved to become the present day 新珠山 (Xīn Zhū Shān), "Sing Zuo Sang" in Foochow, or "Sing-ʒuo-lang".
But, there was a time when the name 新珠安 (Xīn Zhū ān), "Sing Zuo Ang" in Foochow, also appeared. Apparently, it was said at the time that the word "山" (sang) in 新珠山 alluded to 義山 (cemetary, muo-lang), which had an inauspicious connotation. And the word "安" (ang), meaning peaceful or safe and sound, was thought to be a better alternative.
As we now know, the name 新珠山 "Sing Zuo Sang" somehow prevailed and became the official name. Perhaps it was due to that period of time when the two names co-existed that Sungai Merah township became known to the Foochow in Sibu as "Sing-ʒu-ang", although now often heard as "Sing-ʒu-uang" or even "Sing-ʒiu-uang".