Sarikei, a small town with Big Hearts

16 Mar 2011 – Jalan Wharf/Wharf Road

Credits to Daniel YIEK- http://sarikei-time-capsule.blogspot.com

After the great Sibu fire in 1928, the Sibu branch of KLBank under LAM Pak Kuang (need to find out if he is related!) was moved to Sarikei until Sibu was rebuilt. KLBank/廣利銀行, opened in Sarikei in 1937. KLBank moved from 5 Wharf Road to 22 Wharf Road after the war in the late 1940s/early 1950s.

KL Mortgage & Remittance Company was started by grand-uncle LAM JiChiew in 1905 in Kuching. It granted loans against the security of export commodities such as pepper, rubber and other indigenous products. It provided the services of remitting money of migrant Chinese to their families in SE China. It opened branches in Sibu (1923) and Singapore (1926). After the Depression on 26 Oct 1934, the company was converted into a public company under the name KLBank. It then opened in Sarikei (1937) and Binatang (1973). It was acquired by MUI group in 1982 and then it was acquired by HL Group Malaysia in 1994. (Wikipedia)

KLBank moved to the 1st shop of a new block next to Payang Puri Block in the 1970s. 金山代理商/Kim Sang trader took over the old shop and was known for its imported western products like butter, sugar cubes and bacon.

Today the economy of Sarikei is primarily agricultural and is famed for its pineapples and pepper. The center of town has many old Chinese shophouses from the 1930s. It is also a major transportation hub for traffic on both the Pan Borneo Highway and the Rajang river. The most distinctive feature of the bustling waterfront is a 3.6 m high pineapple statue. The irony of the pix on the right is where a pot of gold is expected, there is a run-down shed at the end of this rainbow 🙂

Eureka… found my pot of gold! 5 Wharf Road, now Kwong Hup Heng Cafe with owners also name LAM. Not related but also from the same village as grandfather. Mrs LAM age 86 remembers vividly to describe how one of the fat guards in the ancestors’ Jiangmen/China house got slaughtered by the Japanese during the war. 22 Wharf Road is now a combination of furniture shop and Lian Star Realty.

HLBank is located next to Payang Puri Block near the fountain. Had Sarawak’s signature and my favourite KoLo mee+ice coffee breakfast for less than 3MYR@Rian Cheong Cafe*** across from HLBank.

Appreciations to Stephen CHEN@King’s Inn for arranging to meet up with various locals who are willing to take time to talk to me. Thank you for his most kind hospitality by even inviting me to his home for a delicious dinner with his lovely family. There are lily-pond, mango and longan tree in his garden and the fruits are juicy and yummy. The day ended with a memorable durian feast on his kitchen floor! Am planning to stay on a few more days to talk to people. To be continued…

People tend to forget that the word ‘history’ contains the word ‘story’ – Ken Burns

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