Monday, July 28, 2008

Ensurai or Wong Su Lai

There is a lovely promontory in the Rejang Valley called Wong Su Lai where more than ten families of Ku Tien descent (another group of Foochows)started pioneering agricultural work in 1903. The soil here is loamy and yellow and very fertile . Suitable for fruits and rubber and even pepper, the agriculturalists reaped rich harvests and prospered in no time.

The name Wong Su Lai came from these Foochows who settled in this area some 18 miles from Sibu in the Rajang Basin. They must have heard of the Ensurai trees which bore reddish fruits, but only edible to the fish. Thus perhaps they turned the name Ensurai to a more fitting Foochow name. Wong Su Lai was also the Chinese transliteration of the word ensurai.

"Wong su Lai" on the other hand in Chinese means "Arrival of Teacher Wong" and thereby one Foochow historian Lau Tze Cheng who came from this area,also said the name could be considered as a commemoration of the arrival of Wong Nai Siong, the pioneering business man who brought the Foochows to this part of the world. In due time people even forgot that the Ibans once were dwellers and food gatherers of this area prior to the arrival of the Foochows.

It became a bustling settlement which later boasted of the largest Foochow Mansion built by the second Kang Chu, Lau Kah Tii, a wealthy Foochow pioneer, who died in 1954. This settlement had a shop operated by him and his relatives and there was a primary school and a cemetery. It was indeed a thriving community also produced a large number of highly educated and rich Foochows.

The Ensurai is important to the ecology of the river banks and rivers. The fruits of the Ensurai is a favourite food of many fish including the tapah and middle valley fish.

Perhaps one day some one will find more ensurai trees growing along the river banks and thus discover fish swimming around.

Source : Sarawak Forestry Department.
Trees up to 40m tall and 200cm diameter. Buttresses up to 3m high. Tree trunks are usually crooked and twisted, almost horizontal at base, leaning over rivers and frequently covered with mosses and epiphytes. Branches arising from low down on the trunk, spreading over the river and tending to be semi-pendant at the ends.

The diagnostic characters are the large stipules that exceed 4cm long, pale green and often tinged pink when mature; leathery, oblong-lanceolate, shiny dark green leaves, 14-18cm by 4-7cm with 16-20 pairs of ridge-like veins.

The fruit has 3 long and 2 short wings, usually reddish. During fruiting season, the reddish fruits with pinkish stipules is a beautiful sight along the river banks.

Habitat: Locally frequent along the fast flowing river banks beyond the tidal reaches, below 600m above sea level.

Distribution: Confined to inland river banks from east of Batang Lupar to Lawas.

Note: It is a totally protected species because it protects the river banks and the fruit is an important source of food for many inland fresh water fish. The tree provides a micro-niche for many epiphytes including orchids, ferns, Rhododendron and Hoya species.

2 memories:

天鵝江畔 said...

Hi, Chanyi
I think may be u get the idea from Mr Lau Tze Cheng's book, a local passed historian, but i wonder it is true or not. From the government gazzete or journal mentioned Ensurai is the official name of the place. There is a river called Sg Ensurai.
Kutian people, one of the district from Foochow settled here when they came with Minqin people,led by Wong Nai Siong, they settled at Sg Merah.
The record stated that Sg Merah and Sg Ensurai both were the 2 places settled by Foochow pioneer.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

hi ML

Thanks. Ever since I was young I was told about the Wong Lu Lai name and how it came about. Lau Tze Cheng also wrote about the name in one of his books. On some Chinese maps the name is also Wong Su Lai.

Now I am interested in knowing which is the Sg. Ensurai.

Perhaps some historian can straighten this out. My blog remains true to the stories I heard from my relatives.

I know some Ibans who claim the rightful name.

Thank you for your comment.

I have been thinking about writing an article on Lau Tze Cheng. He has been well known amongst the Foochows but few English articles have been written about him. I have some photos of him too.


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