To commemorate the invaluable contribution of the Foochow pioneers, the Centenary Building for Sibu Foochow Settlement was completed in 2005 at Jalan Salim
Wong Nai Siong was born in the County of Ming-Ching of Fujian Province, China. He left mainland China for Nanyang due to the chaotic conditions in China.
His signing an agreement with the second Rajah of Sarawak enabled him to establish a Foochow settlement in Sibu. All in all he helped to bring in over a thousand Foochow pioneers from China.
The first batch of 72 Foochow settlers arrived in Sibu on 20th February 1901. On 16th March of the same year, the second batch of 535 came. The third batch of 511 also landed in Sibu on 17th June 1902. There are no records of those arrivals who came later and settled at various parts of Sarawak.
Inside the building there are a wide range of exhibit and old photos. Some of tools and equipment used during the early days are on display here. The gallery opened everyday except Monday (9am-12pm, 1.30pm-4.30pm). Admission is free.
This anniversary building showcases a historical corridor which documents the Sibu Centenary Foochow Settlement with murals depicting the initial struggle.
With sheer determination, the settlers turned virgin jungles into farmland. Hardship caused by wild beasts, diseases and weather was immense and it meant life and death struggle to the settlers. The survival came with tears and blood and, having enough to eat was already a blessing to them.
Despite the hardship, they even built schools and churches. Education has been their top priority and the Foochow pioneers set up many primary schools. This has helped to enlighten the community and groom many talents.
They first grew rice and vegetables for their own use. Then the settlers planted rubber and pepper as cash crops. Commerce and trade added to their economic strength.
River transport caught on with their ship building skills. Fishing, timber logging, saw milling and oil palm estate planting have become their additional economic activities.
Over the century, they have set up Wong Nai Siong Secondary School, Lau
King Howe Hospital, Hoch Hua Bank and Hock Thai Finance Company
The Foochow pioneers had to brave all kinds of hardship but their perseverance and hard work brought about prosperity and progress