Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ling Wen Choon - 83 Autobiographical Chapters

Muriel Cadwell Pilley wrote in her book "The Hills of T'ang".....Weng Choon walked down to the main road and I thought that would be the last time I saw him. But how wrong I was!!
Indeed not too many years later the Pilleys would too leave China and arrive in Sibu. Together they founded the Methodist Chiildren's Home and spent many years together as educators (Mr.Ling was briefly principal of the Methodist School) and social change agents (they served in many different committees to help run activities and manage properties of the Church)- always trying to make other people's lives better by introducing Christ to them.

Mr. Ling was a principal and teacher as well as a "missionary". He contributed much to the welfare of the Methodist Church and community in Sibu. But more in the form of his historical records which he had left behind. Sibu with two fires and many other factors did not have a rich primary historical basis for good research to be accomplished. A lot of the history is in fact based on a strong oral tradition and one or two historians like my late cousin Lau Tze Cheng.

Here is his small but significant book which might not be publicly available.

Born in 1889 in September in Foochow China he was one of those Chinese children who took pains to change writing with his left hand to right hand at the age of five. In 1900 his mother passed away. 1902 he arrived in Sibu with the others and he started learning English in the Catholic primary school. The following year Rev Hoover came to Sibu and started the Anglo Chinese School.

He wrote in great details about his life in Sibu thus giving readers a good indepth perspective of the life at that time. He completed this memoirs in 1971 and had it published in Taiwan. Thousands of students and Children Homes' children would remember his simple Christian soldier endeavour.

The late Mr. Ling Wen Choon

Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Ling Wen Choon

Mr. and Mrs. John Pilley - beloved of many in Sibu.

Mrs. Ling conducting evening devotion - Judy Wong was chairperson for the service. She is now Principal of Methodist Pilley Institute.

Management Committee of the Methodist Children's Home

The Ling's Residence in Sibu Queensway - Now only found in the pages of history) - a new residence belonging to Mr. Ding Lian Cheong is in its place)

I will write another article on the Methodist Children's Home and how it impacted the lives of many people of Sibu and even Sarawak.

It is good to read his carefully written book which opens a window to more than 50 years of life and development in Sibu . I find it remarkable because it is from a very special perspective of a man who crossed between two lands - China and Borneo and two historical eras - the old China and the New Foochow (or Sibu).

Note : I welcome comments on this posting. If I have made mistakes they are entirely mine due to my disadvantage of not knowing enough Chinese.

6 memories:

Bengbeng said...

i have heard so much about Methodist Pilley Institute but this is the first time I have heard of the person. thanks for the sharing

sarawakiana said...

We have a lot of grounds to cover where unbiased written history is concerned for Sibu especially.
It is good that Rev Ling Wen Choon or Ling Ung Chung spent a lot of his time to write carefully (by hand!) journals.

It is good that you are teaching your son to write.

justin said...

Haven't been reading blogs and others of late.
This is a very interesting and helpful entry. I used to be stay with uncles in Lanang Road and heard about how the Methodist Church help many of the students go to the United States including some people I know.
Unfortunately I do not read Chinese. Is there a translation of this book?

sarawakiana said...

Hi Justin
Nice to hear from you. I believe there is no translation of this Chinesse journal.
Yes the Methodist Church in Sibu has indeed helped many students to further their studies overseas through special sponsorship because the students are deserving ones.

Just a Little Kindness said...

Good morning!
Ling must have been a very very exceptional man. He could have been someone like Datuk Lim Kok Wing .But he was a person from another era and lifestyle . Those who benefit from his kind work are lucky.

sarawakiana said...

Personally I did not know him but many of my friends grew up in the Methodist Children's Home in Sibu where Mr. and Mrs. Ling were the "parents".
I remember them saying that he was a learned scholar and a very good teacher. He also could tend a garden very well. So vegetables grew and grew in their garden.
He also used a very old and tall bicycle.


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