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Re: Retracing History of Kuching
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HIstory lesson 101...

Posted on: 2007/7/11 18:08
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Re: Retracing History of Kuching
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I read an very very interesting article where I think everyone should read. Resource from Borneo Post.
http://www.theborneopost.com/?p=23203

A summary, its about Kuching History based on Dr Chang Pat Foh who did a research and study on Kuching origin and others. History clearly shows that Kuching city name does not derived from the meaning Cat in BM.

-----------------------------------

Telling it like it is
By Yu Ji


Properly recorded history does not lie. For instance, there were once a lot of headhunters in Sarawak. It’s not very flattering but that’s history. What can you do?

DR CHANG PAT FOH is a local historian and author of seven books. His latest on the history of Kuching from the sixth century onwards has just been sent to the publishers.

Since early 2006, Dr Chang has been presenting a series of monthly talks at the State Library that will run until December next year.

It was during one of his talks last year that I first got to know him.

Our first meeting didn’t go too well. As a series of questions were being asked about school textbooks (Dr Chang had mentioned there were mistakes in them), he abruptly left when requested to elaborate.

A year later, thesundaypost finally caught up with him again.

This time Dr Chang is more relaxed and less hesitant to talk about a wide range of issues — from his interests in Bidayuh and Iban cultures to misconceptions people have on Sarawak history.

Q: You seem to be a controversial as well as a highly regarded historian. Are there certain historical facts too sensitive to talk about?

A: History, as long as it is based on properly recorded facts, can’t lie. Take the time before the Brooke era. Ibans were headhunters and many of their victims were Bidayuhs. That’s history, what can you do?

Q: Do people challenge your facts?

A: Yes, many. Like the misinterpretation of Kuching City as Cat City — not even 10 minutes into one of my recent talks, the audience were already asking “if Kuching is not Cat City, why have so many cat monuments been built?” I don’t argue with them, I just ask questions. It would be more convincing if we asked if cats were called “kuching” in any of our local languages or dialects. One must remember “kuching” is West Malaysian Malay for cat. Not Bahasa Sarawak. This was the case way before we joined Malaysia.

During the Brooke era, local Malays called cat pusa, Bidayuh, busing and Chinese, mau. It was only after Sarawak joined Malaysia that a lot of West Malaysians came here and cat became “Kuching.”

Q: How did Kuching get its name then?

A: There are many versions — a credible one is based on the “air mata Kuching” fruits which used to be found in abundance along the Sarawak River.

But people still ask me how do I know there were such fruits. I show them photographs of a longhouse next to the river (where Kuching Hilton is now) with the fruit trees behind it.

Q: Where do you get these photographs?

A: From archives. I’ve travelled to the Brunei Museum. You know, we were under Brunei rule for 473 years. I’ve travelled to the London Museum because we were under the Brooke for 100 years — 1841 to 1941.

Q: And who pay for your expenses?

A: Sometimes, it’s out of pocket. Sometimes, people sponsor my trips.

I used to visit Kalimantan quite often to research our Iban and Bidayuh tribes. All of them came from Kalimantan, Indonesia. And do you know that most of our Chinese Hakka community are from Kalimantan as well? About 60 per cent of Hakkas in Bau came from Kalimantan.

Q: How did Bau get its name?

A: Mount Mau. Bau is actually wrongly spelt — the correct spelling is Mau (with a stronger intonation than Mau for cat). It means “hat” in Mandarin. You can see from old pictures that the mountain looks like a hat, and there are photos of old Chinese shops named Mau.

There’s this story that Bau got its name because some dead bodies were found in a hole there, hence, smelly. Nonsense. Every name has a proper meaning. Bintulu? Mintu Ulau, which, in the Melanau language, means head-hunting. Sibu is actually Buah Sibau from the Iban language. And since I live in Hui Sing Garden, let me tell you the place was named after Ong Kee Hui, the then housing commission chairman, and the Singaporean contractor appointed to lead the project, Ong Moh Sing.

Hui and Sing.

Q: Does ignorance of our own history frustrate you?

A: Not really. Air mata kuching or cat, it doesn’t really matter.

Q: I notice you have a picture of a cat in your latest book about Kuching.

A: Cat City is a fact now. Today, when you say Kuching is not cat, young people will insist it is. So are my books now part of our history.

Kuching is Cat City now.

Q: How about our school history textbooks? Have you read them? Are there any mistakes?

A: Yes, I have read them and there are lots of mistakes.

Q: Have you contacted the authorities about this?

A: This is up to the Education Department. It’s their job to make sure facts are facts. This is not my duty. Whether they want to listen or not, I don’t know.

Anyway, the younger generation of today don’t like history very much. They want computers, modern technology.

The majority want computers.

Q: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself. For instance, how did you get started as a historian?

A: It’s my own interest. I’m curious about the meanings behind things. The way you talk, your appearance… there’s always some meaning to it.

History is very important. Without it, how do we know where we came from and how? If you don’t remember the past, how do you understand the present?

Can we have a future without the present?

When I started working as an administrative officer, I travelled from place to place. And wherever I went, I liked collecting old materials. I also liked taking photographs.

1967 was the first time I went to a longhouse. I couldn’t speak Iban at that time. Sometimes, I go somewhere and take a picture. People ask why, I say for keep-sake lah, can use later on.

Q: What do you think of the Sarawak Museum? Last I visited, there was hardly any mention of the colonial government, the Japanese, the Brooke or the Brunei era.

A: I do believe the curator is doing a good job. You see, there are lots of antiques under lock - even my books are stolen from the archives. So not everything can be displayed. But if you wish to research, you can have access just by submitting a few forms.

Q: I believe you like studying languages as well?

A: Oh yes. On my last trip to Taiwan, the people there were really interested in how the Chinese community had integrated with locals. So I used the Hokkien dialect as an example.

It’s obvious that many Hokkien speakers here are speaking a “rojak” of other local languages. The way they talk is not pure Chinese dialect. They’ve adopted words like pasa’ (market), nasib (luck), lui (duit Malay for money), salah (wrong) and so on.

The question is do you realise this when you speak Hokkien? (laughter)

Q: How many languages can you speak?

A: I’m fluent in Iban and Bidayuh although I never learned the languages in school. I picked them up during my career. In fact, I regard my Mandarin as my most under-developed language.

I was educated in English.

Posted on: 2007/8/12 18:36
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Re: Retracing History of Kuching
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Quote:

webmaster wrote:
I read an very very interesting article where I think everyone should read. Resource from Borneo Post.
http://www.theborneopost.com/?p=23203

A summary, its about Kuching History based on Dr Chang Pat Foh who did a research and study on Kuching origin and others. History clearly shows that Kuching city name does not derived from the meaning Cat in BM.

-----------------------------------

Telling it like it is
By Yu Ji


Properly recorded history does not lie. For instance, there were once a lot of headhunters in Sarawak. It’s not very flattering but that’s history. What can you do?

DR CHANG PAT FOH is a local historian and author of seven books. His latest on the history of Kuching from the sixth century onwards has just been sent to the publishers.

Since early 2006, Dr Chang has been presenting a series of monthly talks at the State Library that will run until December next year.

It was during one of his talks last year that I first got to know him.

Our first meeting didn’t go too well. As a series of questions were being asked about school textbooks (Dr Chang had mentioned there were mistakes in them), he abruptly left when requested to elaborate.

A year later, thesundaypost finally caught up with him again.

This time Dr Chang is more relaxed and less hesitant to talk about a wide range of issues — from his interests in Bidayuh and Iban cultures to misconceptions people have on Sarawak history.

Q: You seem to be a controversial as well as a highly regarded historian. Are there certain historical facts too sensitive to talk about?

A: History, as long as it is based on properly recorded facts, can’t lie. Take the time before the Brooke era. Ibans were headhunters and many of their victims were Bidayuhs. That’s history, what can you do?

Q: Do people challenge your facts?

A: Yes, many. Like the misinterpretation of Kuching City as Cat City — not even 10 minutes into one of my recent talks, the audience were already asking “if Kuching is not Cat City, why have so many cat monuments been built?” I don’t argue with them, I just ask questions. It would be more convincing if we asked if cats were called “kuching” in any of our local languages or dialects. One must remember “kuching” is West Malaysian Malay for cat. Not Bahasa Sarawak. This was the case way before we joined Malaysia.

During the Brooke era, local Malays called cat pusa, Bidayuh, busing and Chinese, mau. It was only after Sarawak joined Malaysia that a lot of West Malaysians came here and cat became “Kuching.”

Q: How did Kuching get its name then?

A: There are many versions — a credible one is based on the “air mata Kuching” fruits which used to be found in abundance along the Sarawak River.

But people still ask me how do I know there were such fruits. I show them photographs of a longhouse next to the river (where Kuching Hilton is now) with the fruit trees behind it.

Q: Where do you get these photographs?

A: From archives. I’ve travelled to the Brunei Museum. You know, we were under Brunei rule for 473 years. I’ve travelled to the London Museum because we were under the Brooke for 100 years — 1841 to 1941.

Q: And who pay for your expenses?

A: Sometimes, it’s out of pocket. Sometimes, people sponsor my trips.

I used to visit Kalimantan quite often to research our Iban and Bidayuh tribes. All of them came from Kalimantan, Indonesia. And do you know that most of our Chinese Hakka community are from Kalimantan as well? About 60 per cent of Hakkas in Bau came from Kalimantan.

Q: How did Bau get its name?

A: Mount Mau. Bau is actually wrongly spelt — the correct spelling is Mau (with a stronger intonation than Mau for cat). It means “hat” in Mandarin. You can see from old pictures that the mountain looks like a hat, and there are photos of old Chinese shops named Mau.

There’s this story that Bau got its name because some dead bodies were found in a hole there, hence, smelly. Nonsense. Every name has a proper meaning. Bintulu? Mintu Ulau, which, in the Melanau language, means head-hunting. Sibu is actually Buah Sibau from the Iban language. And since I live in Hui Sing Garden, let me tell you the place was named after Ong Kee Hui, the then housing commission chairman, and the Singaporean contractor appointed to lead the project, Ong Moh Sing.

Hui and Sing.

Q: Does ignorance of our own history frustrate you?

A: Not really. Air mata kuching or cat, it doesn’t really matter.

Q: I notice you have a picture of a cat in your latest book about Kuching.

A: Cat City is a fact now. Today, when you say Kuching is not cat, young people will insist it is. So are my books now part of our history.

Kuching is Cat City now.

Q: How about our school history textbooks? Have you read them? Are there any mistakes?

A: Yes, I have read them and there are lots of mistakes.

Q: Have you contacted the authorities about this?

A: This is up to the Education Department. It’s their job to make sure facts are facts. This is not my duty. Whether they want to listen or not, I don’t know.

Anyway, the younger generation of today don’t like history very much. They want computers, modern technology.

The majority want computers.

Q: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself. For instance, how did you get started as a historian?

A: It’s my own interest. I’m curious about the meanings behind things. The way you talk, your appearance… there’s always some meaning to it.

History is very important. Without it, how do we know where we came from and how? If you don’t remember the past, how do you understand the present?

Can we have a future without the present?

When I started working as an administrative officer, I travelled from place to place. And wherever I went, I liked collecting old materials. I also liked taking photographs.

1967 was the first time I went to a longhouse. I couldn’t speak Iban at that time. Sometimes, I go somewhere and take a picture. People ask why, I say for keep-sake lah, can use later on.

Q: What do you think of the Sarawak Museum? Last I visited, there was hardly any mention of the colonial government, the Japanese, the Brooke or the Brunei era.

A: I do believe the curator is doing a good job. You see, there are lots of antiques under lock - even my books are stolen from the archives. So not everything can be displayed. But if you wish to research, you can have access just by submitting a few forms.

Q: I believe you like studying languages as well?

A: Oh yes. On my last trip to Taiwan, the people there were really interested in how the Chinese community had integrated with locals. So I used the Hokkien dialect as an example.

It’s obvious that many Hokkien speakers here are speaking a “rojak” of other local languages. The way they talk is not pure Chinese dialect. They’ve adopted words like pasa’ (market), nasib (luck), lui (duit Malay for money), salah (wrong) and so on.

The question is do you realise this when you speak Hokkien? (laughter)

Q: How many languages can you speak?

A: I’m fluent in Iban and Bidayuh although I never learned the languages in school. I picked them up during my career. In fact, I regard my Mandarin as my most under-developed language.

I was educated in English.


to me the name "Kuching" is or was never Cat. Because from what I have learned cat in Malay is spelt as Kucing nut our city is spelt as Kuching with the "H" there and we pronounce it as "Ku-ch-ing" not ku-cing

Posted on: 2007/8/13 18:07
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Re: Retracing History of Kuching
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I thought Kuching was named after a small river, the River Kuching, a tributory of the Sarawak River. Read it somewhere a few years back, it was flowing in between Tua Pek Kong and all the way to St Thomas. During Rajah Sir James Brooke and Rajah Charles's reign, Kuching was known as Sarawak Proper.

And it is true, our History books have a lot of errors and sad to see the Education Ministry doesn't seem to be doing much about it. I learn more about Sarawakian and Malaysian history from readings abroad then in Kuching.

I read this in a library in Adelaide: Charles Brooke has a son, and from him we have a new Sarawakian branch of the Brooke family. Also, I read this in Sydney, the British SAS, the best military specialists, have, or might I say had a base camp in Kuching, along Sekama Road.

And it is true, the Sarawak Museum has a massive collection, all to the extent that I see pieces on loan from Sarawak Museum in Auckland. However, the last time I visited, the items on display seems to have shrunk. Yet, what makes me curious is that the government is building a new secure storage facility for Sarawak Museums Department to house our priceless history.

Posted on: 2007/8/13 19:53
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Re: Retracing History of Kuching
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Really? Charles Brooke had a son, yes, and his son was Charles Vyner Brooke. Charles Vyner Brooke did not have sons, he got 2 daughters.

Sarawak Museum used to be the famous. However, as soon as the formation of Malaysia, many antiques and artifacts were moved to KL, west Malaysia. Sigh, it's really sad!

Posted on: 2007/8/14 0:24
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Re: Retracing History of Kuching
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Rajah Charles had another son through a local girl and his decendants live in Canada. Though this son is not officially recognised, he does exist, and he was brought up by the Anglican Bishop of Kuching, if I'm not mistaken. The proper family tree now resides in New Zealand. I'll help dig up.

The Sarawak Museum still has a vast collection, besting the National Museum in KL regardless. Such is our collection, we can loan it out just to ease our outdated storage facility.

Though why we had to give Kuching's original steam train to the National Antiquities Department I have no idea. At least our portraiture collection is still quite impressive. Sadly, all under lock-and-key.

Posted on: 2007/8/14 9:27
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Re: Retracing History of Kuching
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Are you sure mocha? Which Charles you meant? Charles Brooke married Margaret and he built Margaret Fort for her. You mean Charles Vyner Brooke married a local girl? Doesn't sound like it. I still remember I read a newspaper where Charles Vyner Brooke's grand daughter paid a visit to Kuching and the rest parts of Sarawak. They stay in England, am I right?

Posted on: 2007/8/14 9:35
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Re: Retracing History of Kuching
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Rajah Charles Brooke did marry Margeret DeWinter, who became the Ranee Margaret. Those are undisputed. But behind all that, in usual court intrigue, Rajah Charles also had a local lover, and he sired a child with her.

That is why this boy is not recognised as a legitimate heir to the Sarawakian throne. Even if we decide to return the monarchy, stories like this are bound to surface. I read this in a book down here, will attempt to dig it up. Pray that I do.

Yes, a descendant of the Brooke Family, the Dayang Brooke, came down to Kuching in 2003, after the ban was lifted against the Brookes. After they gave Sarawak over to British colonial rule, they were forbidden to enter Sarawak for 50 years, I think, or was it 30? Rajah Muda Anthony Brooke lives in New Zealand's North Island, the Dayang Brooke lives in the UK, if I'm not mistaken.

'Dayang' is the Sarawakian title akin to the English 'Lady' or 'Princess.'

Posted on: 2007/8/14 9:47
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Re: Retracing History of Kuching
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Oh, I didn't know they used to ban the Brooke family. So Anthony Brooke who resides in New Zealand was the descendant of Charles Brooke and a local girl?

Posted on: 2007/8/14 10:34
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Re: Retracing History of Kuching
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I think the only reason why the local hate the Brooke was because of irresponsibility of Charles Vyner Brooke. He and his family escaped to Australia during WW2 and he handed over Sarawak to British and yet he promised to give the local independence.

Posted on: 2007/8/14 10:36
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