Sibu - History - Establishment

Establishment

Before 1 June 1873, Sibu was known as "Maling", named after the winding portion, "Tanjung Maling", on the other side of Rajang River. Maling was a small village with a few small and simple shop houses with atap roofs and wooden walls and floors. The main population was Malay; and Chinese were in a minority.

In 1841 "Sarawak" (the present Kuching - Sarawak Capital) was ruled by 'White Rajah', James Brooke. On 1 June 1873, the third division was created and the division was named after the native rambutan fruit because the division had a lot of native rambutan known as "Buah Sibau" in the Iban language.

In 1901 Pastor Wong Nai Siong (Huang Naishang) led the first batch of Foochow Christians from China to Sibu to open up the fertile lands of Sibu for cultivation, a massive opening up of Sibu. This was a landmark year in the history of the development of Sibu.

Pastor Wong Nai Siong came to Singapore in September 1899. From there, he proceeded to West Malaysia, Sumatra and the Dutch East Indies. For six months he explored the places but failed to find a suitable place for the immigration and settlement of his folks in China. In April 1900, Mr. Wong Nai Siong came to Sarawak and got the approval of the Sarawak Rajah to look for a suitable site for Chinese immigrants.

Pastor Wong explored the lower valley and upper reaches of the Rajang River. He soon discovered that the Rajang Delta was very fertile and particularly suitable for cultivation. So he decided to choose the area for opening up for cultivation. With that decision, Mr. Wong went to see the second Rajah of Sarawak, Rajah Charles Brooke, for discussions regarding the matter of opening up of land for cultivation. In those days of the Rajahs, Sarawak was sparsely populated with vast land yet to be developed, Pastor Wong's plan was timely and very much appreciated.

So, when Pastor Wong Nai Siong went to see Sir Charles Brooke and explained to him his plan to lead large groups of Foochows to open up Sibu for cultivation, the Rajah immediately agreed. Both parties signed an agreement.

The Chinese immigrants came in three batches. The first batch consisted of 72 people, the second batch 535, and the third batch 511, totalling 1118 people. Of the total, 130 brought their spouses and families, while the others were bachelors. After working in Sibu, nearly all the immigrants chose to settle down and made Sibu their new home. They were happy to settle down for a brighter future in Sibu.

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