May 30, 2024

Red Eyed Fish, Patin and Empurau

 Red Eyed Fish Baked with Ern Chao

My parents enjoyed raising us in Pulau Kerto at the Hua Hong Ice Factory (also rice mill). Dad would fish in the evening after work and would bring in quite a bit of fish and prawns. He also set up traps when the tide was low on the mud banks. Who would have thought that a Yenching University graduate would live such a humble rustic life in Sibu? He had the best of college and university life for someone from Sibu, Sarawak from 1932 to 1937. He had enjoyed junior college in Shanghai alongside his 3rd brother before WW2. Dad and 3rd Uncle were dapper in their western suits when studing in Shanghai. Grand dad would always mention that. Those were the yearswhen grandad made a lot of money from rubber.

When dad came home in 1937 he was obedient to Grand dad and took up management of the ice mill at Pulau Kerto. Fishing was the joy of his life and grand dad loved to eat fish. Dad could really throw the jala well (net)

One of the best fish he caught was the RED EYE a very valueable river fish which is quite rare in the 21st century. Most people have never eaten it. It was quite a common fish for us in the 1950's. Grandfather loved it when my mother cooked it - braised or baked with ern chao.

I dont have a recent photo of red fish at the moment.

Will look for one and show it..or may be even cook with with ern chao (red wine lees) for old time sake.

April 17, 2024

Chang Ta Kang : Council Negri Member

After the handing over of Sarawak to the British Colonial Government, a new Constitution was drafted in 1956. The membership of Council Negeri increased to 24 non official elected members while 14 members were based on appointments, four on nomination and three as permanent members. The first democratic general election held in Sarawak in 1959 was through the three-tier voting system of the local councils.
A total of 24 non official members were elected to become members of the Council Negeri. The election brought about a political realization among the local people as proven by the emergence of a number of political parties. The Constituttion of the State of Sarawak underwent an important change on March 1963 following the announcement of the Concept of the Formation of Malaysia Raya in 1961. The change made by Council Negeri was to ensure Sarawak would have a fully democratic legislature and a ministerial system of government before Malaysia could be formed together.

Being the first local political party, Sarawak United Peoples' Party (SUPP's) origins are tied to Sarawak's history of 20th century political awakening. After World War II, the last Rajah of Sarawak, Charles Vyner Brooke ceded Sarawak to Britain in 1946, thus making it an official British Crown Colony – to the dismay of many locals. This eventually gave rise to local anti-cession and anti-imperialist movements which further sparked local political awareness. The triggering event was Sarawak's new Constitution of 1959 which fell short of expectations for many who hoped to see significant progress to self-governance. The need for an organised political front to champion Sarawakian interests finally led to the formation of SUPP on 4 June 1959, with Ong Kee Hui as its founding president.

With a "Sarawak for Sarawakians" ideology – SUPP's movement gained widespread support, including winning big in the local elections of November 1959, alarming the then ruling British colonial government. When the proposal for Federation of Malaysia was first mooted in 1961, SUPP came out strongly to oppose the idea. Ong argued for Sarawak's independence before setting up a greater federation.
My father's personal foray as an SUPP party member
My father, Chang Ta Kang who had been pro democratic governance and English educated was dismayed by the sudden change in the political situation. He was a founding member of SUPP and a good friend of both Ong Kee Hui and Stephen Yong. As an elected representative of Sibu on the SUPP ticket he was undecided. He needed time to think about the formation of Malaysia and self governance for Sarawak. He believed that Sarawak was ready for self governance. But his ill health caused him to remain silent and he did not any articles for the Chinese newspapers, including the Ta Tung Newspaper, run by his own sister Pearl and her friends.

In December 1962, the British colonial government launched a crackdown on all dissenting groups in Sarawak. Many party members were detained, some even deported from Sarawak for alleged communist activities as, at the time, some members had links with Communist-affiliated. This further caused my father more heart aches. He was hospitalised for the first time for a weak heart condition. He had also started to burn a lot of his artwork, correspondence, notes, books and Chinese language magazines because he felt that the Speciall Branch might misconstrue everything he had. My father had studied in Shanghai and later graduated from Yenching university, Beijing. He was however more a scholar than an activist.
Following his hospitalisation he did not want to make any more political statements for Sibu and for SUPP. He was not surprised that SUPP still did well at the Sarawak elections of June 1963 . He was further disappointed that SUPP did not have a majority to form government, and it remained as the opposition.
1963 was a double disaster for the family as my grandfather passed away which caused my father to have his first heart attack. It was sad sight that he sat in a trishaw at the back of the coffin during the procession around the town. I had never seen my father weep so loudly. The pillar of our family was gone.
My grandfather had been disappointed by the political situation. When he saw the Sarawak Chinese Association gaining a strong hold in Sarawak politics he said at the beginning, "Politics in Sarawak is not meant for the poor." He then advised my father and my second uncle to leave SUPP. He also advised all who came to seek his opinion about standing for election. He would give his strong opinion.

Grandfather had said," You will never stop spending money for politics. Just look after your children well and that is good enough. When a family is stable everything will fall into place."

March 19, 2024

The Green Flower Coffee Cup and Saucer Set

 this is what we call a coffee shop cup and saucer set. Most people will call it the green flower set and this coffee shop crockery is actually made in China a long time ago for south East Asian countries. Today many of these green flower sets are made in Thailand.

The ubiquitous coffee cup set are well loved by coffee drinkers. The saucer is quite deep. A grandfather would pour a bit of the sweet coffee into the saucer for his grandchild to drink. However ideally a man could pour his coffee from the cup into the saucer to cool the drink. I have seen many men do that. so it is really a practical thing to have a cup and saucer set.

Besides, if you do look at the place where coffee is made you can see all the cups in a special trough filled with hot water. This special aluminium trough could have been a innovation by as coffee shop owner to keep the cups hot and clean!! But then again, serving coffee in hot cups really help to keep the drink warm. So you can actually nurse your cup of coffee over a longer period of time while you chat with your buddies.

Coffee shops are really great places for you to relax and enjoy your fellowship.

March 15, 2024

Disappearing Miri : Miri Old Airport 1968

This is really a nice phto from the Fozdar family. The Bahais were on a visit to Miri when this photo was taken. 
Please note the kajang (palm leaves) which were woven together to make walls.

This was the beginning stage of the Miri Airport, Before Miri Airport was started, the Lutong Airstrip (used by SHELL and the public) was very functional, with small planes landing almost ever day. 

February 23, 2024

Fruits of Sarawak Jungles 1

  Have you ever seen this jungle fruit?

Actually it is the fruit of a wild rattan and is more on the sourish side. Some people love the sourness from this fruit.

Some of the fruits can be beautifully red in colour. When it is too ripe, it becomes brown and really not edible at all.

Foragers enjoy pulling them out of the tree if they see them, But a down side is that snakes love to  hide in these rattans. So be careful .

February 10, 2024

Soh Mien on First Day of Lunar New Year

 Today 10.2.2024 is the first day of the New Lunar Year of the Dragon. Yes I have cooked the chicken and made the soh mien. Happy New Year!! Praise God we have come this far in our life.

On the first day of the Lunar New Year, Foochows originating from Minqing, Fujian, living in Sarawak would always prepare SOH Mieng or longevity wheat noodles with a chicken soup. A generous amount of red rice wine would be added to the bowl of noodles besides chicken  meat, shitake mushroom and a whole hard boiled egg.,

The hard boiled egg is a must because it will symbolise peace. Eggs are always held as an auspicious food by the Foochows. Egg in Foochow sounds like LONG or WAVE. so when you eat an egg or two, or you bring hard boiled eggs when you travel, you are actually indicating you are controlling the waves in the sea or river.

In the early days hard boiled eggs were even sold to travellers at the Tua Pek Kong Wharf. Relatives would buy the eggs and give to the travellers, remarking..."Eat eggs, control waves. Peace."

Today many people have forgotten this symbolism.

February 6, 2024

Pusa : Where my Cousin taught for a few Years

 My cousin Lau Kung Sieng was trained in Rajang Teacher's College after she completed her Form Five in Methodist Secondary School in 1966. The Sixties were turbulent years in Sarawak. There were political changes after the formation of Malaysia and education needed to be provided in the rural and urban areas as demands from the population were strong

Many schools in the rural areas were started and there was a dirth of teaching staff. Missionary teachers, priests from foreign countries had to leave Sarawak and there were more vacancies. Some schools were even staffed with one or two teachers only!!

But then again the Teacher Training institutes were not able to train more than they had the capability to do so. The supply was not able to meet the demand.

And fresh graduates from the teachers' colleges had to be sent to places they had never heard of. Many experienced having to walk for a few days to reach their school and at night they had to use kerosene lamps.

A trained teacher was sent to school where he had to share a hut with three other teachers and when it rained they had to catch the rain water with their pails and find some dry spots to sleep.  In less than a month they repaired their roofs on their own. Not that they had the experience to do so. There was no canvas in those days, and the town was a week's walk away. Besides they had no leave to make that journey. About 15 years later the same teacher said that a car could finally drive to the school using logging road but the quarters were still in poor shape.

Back to my cousin.

She was happy there as she was able to board in a good kampong house with two other lady teachers and they walked to the school to teach. Pusa was a small fishing town and the fishermen;s children were keen to study.

Her frist month was fine and all three lady teachers were able to cope with their food supply, some salt, some sugar and some condensed milk, They were able to buy fish very cheaply. Sometimes they received gifts from grateful parents.

Red Eyed Fish, Patin and Empurau

 Red Eyed Fish Baked with Ern Chao My parents enjoyed raising us in Pulau Kerto at the Hua Hong Ice Factory (also rice mill). Dad would fish...