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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Murder : for the love of gold

There was this wooden house in Queensway in Sibu which was considered haunted and no one lived in it. Each time we cycled past this house, we would all increase our speed and feel the goosebumps growing on our skin.

It could only be just psychological that we felt this way. Were the spirits really that terrifying?

Here is the story that went around. It might not be entirely accurate after the passage of more than 50 years. I first heard it from my mother's washing lady. And of course, most women in Sibu at that time did not have any first hand knowledge of court cases.

The murder could have happen in the early 50's, even before my parents moved to Sibu. Not long ago I even tried to locate some local reference books to verify the story but to no avail.

The wooden house no longer exists. And the story is fading into the recesses of our mind.I have asked several people but they said, they have never heard of the story.

The native mistress of one of the British government officers had a peculiar liking for wearing a lot of gold on her wrists,neck and ears. It was rumoured that she had a huge gold chain around her waist too. Now at that time, it was not clear at all whether she was a Melanau, or an Iban or a Kayan because our Kak (the Malay washer woman) was also not very clear about the ethnic origin of the lady as she had not seen the woman in person herself. Everything was just hear say. And being illiterate, she had not been able to read the papers, which could only have been the local Chinese newspapers of the time, the See Hua Daily News or the Malaysia Daily News.

The lady of ill repute was given the wooden house to live in and it was well equipped with very modern electrical appliances and modern amenities of that time like electrical iron, refridgerator (a rarity) ,radio,a record player,an oven and other nice fixtures. It was said that she had many fine crystal glasses and dining sets in her cabinets. And she was naturally provided with cupboardful of the best whiskeys and brandies. Her wooden floor was well polished to be danced on every saturday night.

She was the top "socialite" of the day,as she was charming, beautiful and powerful. A word from her to the right officer, a person could get a job as kerani or driver with the PWD (Public Works Department). That was considered as "power" or "influence".

According to the local stories then, one day a group of men and women visited her after they learned that she was a very wealthy woman. They might even have been related. They had decided to ask her for a loan of money but she refused saying that her Tuan would not agree to such a loan.

Perhaps the drinking and the drunkeness which resulted from the day's visit had caused the conflict to blow up into a murder, we would never know from the lay person's view.

Perhaps this group of visitors left after their drinking. But unfortunately, she was strangled to death by some persons that very evening. They had used the wire of a very old iron to strangle her to death. And they buried her in a very shallow grave near the house in a hurry.

It was a very, very messy murder actually and within days the murderers were caught by the police,produced in court and sentenced to death.

All the gold, bottles of drinks, crystal glasses and furniture were found from various places by the police very easily.

This was one of the first murder cases of Sibu involving non Chinese.

3 memories:

FrancisN said...

This story reminds me of the various haunted places in Sibu. One being the old swimming pool in Upper Lanang Road.

My friends and I had a lot of good memories swimming there. We always tried to leave before sundown.

Greed and jealousy make people commit crimes. They want what they do not have and for some, will commit crimes to get it.

The poor woman must have died a horrible death. Those men deserved their punishment.

sarawakiana said...

I was hoping that by posting this story I might get a lead to something conclusive. Hoping that someone with memories of this story could appear with his version.

Murders are very interesting. They reveal the psychological make up of a person or persons.

Sometimes greed can be very destructive.

FrancisN said...

Sometimes the perpetrators did not intend to commit murders just robbery.

Once things get out of hand, like the victims fighting back or screaming, the victims are killed either accidentally or intentionally.

I agree with you that greed can be very destructive.

 

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