Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Fort Brooke at Julau

In my research on the Forts the Brookes built, I found a link on Fort Brooke and I am delighted to be able to obtain the permission of Daniel Yiek of Sarikei Time Capsule to use this photo.

Please read his blog : and you will find many parallels in the history of Sibu and Sarikei.

Why was a newer and smaller Fort Brooke built at Julau? It was definitely just an outstation post without the characteristic two cannons pointing towards a r9iver bend. I hope one day to have more information and perhaps readers can help me out here. Thank you.

7 memories:

Unknown said...


where exactly is Fort Brooke located?


1. There is a Pulau Babi and and Island Road/Jalan Pulau in Sibu.

2. It was mentined that Fort Brooke is at the confluence of the Igan and Rejang River.

3. Fort Brooke is associated with Malay Kampongs and Chinese shophouses.

I suspect it must be some where along island road, possibly also Lau King Howe Hospital or the Rejang Port Authority. Older people would be able to shed some light since there was an abbatoir at Pulau Babi in the 1960's before it makes way for development. Those who stay in Sibu in the 1960's should know.

Isn't history interesting? we are like Sherlock Holmes.

Unknown said...

from the establishment of the Fort, I notice that fort was established first in Kanowit and much later in Sibu. I understand that Kanowit was a much more important town than Sibu at that time. in fact, there were Hokkien grave at kanowit that dates back to the Ching dynasty. The Hokkiens was trying to escape persecution in China. Later such Hokkiens moved down to Sibu and Sarikei. Some upriver to Kapit and Belaga.

in fact, i have read an article by a Malaysia history professor and was fascinated to read that te first school in Malaysia was built in Kanowit!!! Much earlier than the penang free School!!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

I believe now very strongly that Fort Brooke made way for the Lau King Howe Hospital.

I will post a photo of Fort Brooke, albeit very blurr and in black and white (even sepia). Lovely building. It is was at the confluence of Igan and Rejang, then it must behind Lau King Howe Hospital. The guns of a fort must point towards likely attackers who came from the river front. And thus Fort Brooke could fire the cannons and disperse the attackers. It was thus written about one such attack, "within minutes the badly armed Dayaks were dispersed upon the firing of one or two canons. Thus ended one attack by the unruly rebels."

Unknown said...

From marshland to busy business centre
By Philip Wong

FEW people here nowadays know that Jalan Khoo Peng Long was once a stretch of marshland opposite the Tua Pek Kong Temple.

The marshland was separated from the town by one of several streams gushing into the Lembangan River, a tributary of the Rajang River flowing adjacent to Jalan Channel and ending somewhere along Jalan Tiong Hua (popularly known here as Red River).

Another tributary, starting from Jalan Channel, cuts through Jalan Kampung Nyabor before ending up at the Sibu Town Square.

Basically, the river splits Sibu into three parts — the hugh marshland, Sibu Island (presently Jalan Island area) and mainland Sibu (opposite the Lembangan River).

There is also a small isolated island, known as Pulau Babi, washed by a third and smaller tributary of the Lembangan River. Due to its close proximity to the Rajang River, the island once served as place for slaughtering pigs.

It is believed that people back then showed little concern for the health and hygiene problems caused by this activity. Just any place they could find near the riverbank would do, especially with water readily available for washing and cleaning. Moreover, the river was a convenient place to dump carcasses.

Everyday, pigs were taken across a wooden bridge to the island to be slaughtered. This bridge, linking Jalan Khoo Peng Loong to Jalan Channel, has since been upgraded.

Once on the island, the pigs were kept in an abattoir and after slaughter, would be sent back to the market on mainland Sibu. Over time, the island became known to the locals as Pulau Babi or Pig Island.

“The island is not particularly big — about the size of a football field,” recalled 68-year-old retired businessman Soon Choon Hoo.

Together with his friends after school each day, he would paddle a sampan from his house at Jalan Long Bridge to Sibu town.

Normally, it took about 30 minutes to reach the town. Along the way, they passed the marshland and Pulau Babi.

Soon said they would also gather floating timber logs and brought them back home for firewood.

“I could also remember there was a big tree somewhere along Lembangan River where we used to play Tarzan,” he added.

Soon never ventured into Pulau Babi because of the “very muddy” land there.

“By the 1950’s, the island was more or less isolated. People no longer slaughtered pigs there. We also heard stories that the island could be infested with snakes and poisonous insects … so we kept our distance.”

Towards the late 1950’s, Soon, still a schoolboy then, said the area underwent tremendous development and businesses were thriving on the marshland following the construction of two rows of 24 shophouses there by the Borneo Development Corporation.

Under Phase One, 11 two-storey shophouses were built in 1963 and completed two years later. Phase II which started in 1968, was completed in 1970.

Subsequently, the area experienced a business boom, transforming the once shunned marshland into a place of trade and commerce which, in the 1970’s and 80’s, was reputed to be one of the busiest areas in Sibu.

Everyday, warehouses, offices and other government buildings at the place were buzzing with loading and unloading activities.

During those days, the area also served as a busy shipping transit centre and the business hub for the central region (then known as Sibu Division).

But how did the place come to be associated with the name Khoo Peng Loong? A look at the lifetime achievements of the man will shed some light.

Khoo was a close family friend of Soon’s father. They co-owned a business called Peng Guan Distillery Factory. Khoo was the board of directors chairman while Soon’s father, the director.

Soon himself knows very little about Khoo other than he was a popular public figure and an entrepreneur with a pleasant personality.

According to his biography extracted from the Sarawak Chinese Cultural Association, Khoo was also a friendly and approachable politician who worked very hard for the various communities in Sibu.

Born in Sarikei, English-educated Khoo began his political career as early as the 1950’s. His hospitality and down-to-earth attitude in serving the public was believed to be behind his huge popularity with all the communities in Sarikei and in Sibu.

In 1959, together with 35 people, he co-founded the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP). The Sibu branch was only officially registered on June 21, 1959, and he was elected its vice-chairman.

In 1963, the Sarawak government held its triennial election on a three tier-system — district level, divisional level and the Legislative Council.

There were then 24 district and urban councils in Sarawak and 429 councillors would be elected to fill all the tiers.

From the 24 councils, represented by the 429 councillors, 109 would be elected to sit in the five Divisional Advisory Councils. The 36 Legislative Council members were, in turn, elected by the five Divisional Advisory Councils.

Khoo represented the SUPP and won the councillor’s post for the second zone of the Sibu Urban District Council (SUDC) when he defeated Ling Beng Siew, chairman of the Sarawak Chinese Association (SCA). Following his victory, Khoo was appointed SUDC chairman — a post he held till 1964 when he was appointed a Federal Member of Parliament for Sibu.

In 1965, Sarawak held its first combined State and Federal elections and Khoo, standing on the SUPP ticket, convincingly won both seats as Repok assemblyman and Sibu MP.

SUPP was an opposition party at the time and it allowed its candidate to contest both state and parliamentary seats during the election.

Capturing both seats was a very rare feat at that time. And for Khoo, popularity came at a heavy price as his political nemesis began plotting his downfall.

However, Khoo stood firm against the allegations hurled at him. His standing as a good leader among the people helped pull him through.

He always believed that to move forward, SUPP members must remain united, speak with one voice and push forward with one principle.

Once, he reportedly told party members that any disagreement among them must be discussed openly to help the party leaders reach a consensus.

As the party grew from strength to strength, the colonial government began putting pressure on it.

Towards the late 1960’s, many of its members defected. Khoo was also approached to quit the party but he did not budge.

By 1974, with age catching up, he became less active in politics. In 1976, to show its appreciation for Khoo’s contributions, the Sibu Urban District Council renamed Pulau Babi Road Jalan Khoo Peng Loong.

Khoo passed away in 1979.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

thank you.

Khoo was a good man but the tides of politics were treacherous. Many men loyal to the struggles and principles of the Chinese had to abandon SUPP at that time because of the two forces : the Communistic alignment and the Colonial pressure.

Because they were unable to be on either side or to even be in the middle (there was no possibility of a win win situation then), they made a retreat which created a vacuum for the Sarawak Chinese Association to move forward to claim that they were instrumental in bringing about Malaysia.

I may have a very unusual bias here. But that was my youthful analysis of the time and I continue to uphold it.

SUPP was fortunate to be able to rise above the waters with Ong Kee Hui(the Kuching leaders) after sometime. My father unfortunately died in 1965 and I had very little education on politics after that.

For reasons best known to the founders of SCA, it was disbanded, with the claims which they displayed inthe media.

Politics continue to be in the hands of the rich, thus leading to a sort of plutocracy, something rather unexpected from their founders I must say. The communist struggle came to an end. Lives were sacrificed and an ideology fought. Perhaps some objectives were achieved.

The rest, they said, was history. But then, history can also be rewritten.

Daniel Yiek said...

My latest post of Brooke fort at Julau

mun said...

My late father Constable PC30050 Mun Hwa Chye, once served in fort brooke, sarawak. My mom told me my sister was born in june 1963. At that time my father was posted to fort brooke to fight the indonesians army during the confrontation between malaysia and indonesia. I have a photo of it taken in 1963. I was only one and half years old.

Posted by Mun Kim Cheng.


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