Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Eng Ann Teng, Sibu

Eng Ann Teng Tua Pek Kong Temple, Sibu was found more than a century ago, around the year 1870. In the 1871 Sarawak Gazette, the temple was recorded as a small wooden Chinese temple.

The temple was then rebuilt into a typical Taoist Chinese Architecture in 1897. Most of the critical building materials were imported from China, including the statue of the host deity, Lord Tua Pek Kong. The details of the contributors & expenditure of the 1897 rebuilding was curved in two pieces of stones, which are still in the temple.

Like many of the histories of Tua Pek Kong temples in Sarawak, the Eng Ang Teng Tua Pek Kong temple had gone through major fire disaster, and was unharmed; the March 8, 1928 fire was a tragedy, as most of Sibu business shoplots were destroyed after the incident.

Towards the end of the Japanese occupation, the temple was severely destroyed due to Allied Forces’ air strikes on Sibu town; the statue of Tua Pek Kong, again, was unharmed.

In 1957, the temple was replaced with concrete structure and the then Governor of Sarawak, Sir Anthony Abell, who was the guest of honor, officially declared open of the historical place of worship. It was a grand occasion for the people of Sibu at that time, and especially to the devotees as the grand occasion was also attended by British Royal dignitaries & other important government officers.

With the support of the state Government and devotees, the 7-Storey Pagoda at the back of temple was constructed in 1987.

Eng Ann Teng Sibu and the Pagoda since then has becomes a prime & growing tourist attraction in Sibu, and also a land mark of this Christian town of Central Sarawak, where majority of Chinese are Christians.

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Tua Pek Kong, Marudi

Marudi Tua Pek Kong is located within the business center of Marudi Town, in Miri division of Sarawak.

Marudi used to be a stepping stone to the well known tourist destination, the Mulu Cave. Pioneer tourists would travel from Miri to Marudi first, and then from the river, tourist would have to use long boats cutting through few adventurous rapids upstream before reaching Mulu. With the completion of a small airport at Mulu, most tourists prefer to take the twin otters direct from Miri airport.

Marudi is currently comparatively quite since the last century timber boom. The Tua Pek Kong temple here is the only temple of Taoist or Chinese culture origin. The temple has gone through 3 major fire disasters in the history of Marudi, and it has survived unharmed, surprisingly to many devotees. The temple was found around the time when permanent settlement was started in Marudi, more than a century history.

Like many of the Tua Pek Kong in Sarawak, it had gone through few restorations and renovations; with fewer of this historical places remained in the state, the Tua Pek Kong will move on for years to come, with her growing dedicated devotees in the area.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Nam Hua Chern Teck Kung, Matang

A new Chinese temple is being constructed at Matang area; the temple is Nam Hua Chern Teck Kung.

The total construction cost will be RM10 millions. Currently 60% of the works has been completed. Another RM5 millions is required for the remaining funding of the project.

The temple official website has just been launched - Appeal has been made to devotees to make kind contributions to the construction & related funds.

Besides being a place of devotion & worship, the temple will also collect & provide information on local Chinese history, past cultural events & activities, as well as the forgotten history of the Bau Town, its glamorous gold mines history & Chinese pioneers in the area.

For more information on Bau town, kindly visit -

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Leang Shen Temple, Spaoh

Leang Shen Temple, literally in Chinese is ‘Two Sages Old Temple’. There is no record on where the ‘two sages’ were from as there are a total 7 main host deities in the temple; when the temple was first initiated, there was only Ma Zhu, the Taoist Goddess of the Sea worshipped in the temple.

Spaoh is a small town of Betong division, about half an hour off the Trans Borneo Highway; it is about 3 to 3 ½ hour drive from Kuching City. The temple is situated next to the Paku River, and nearby a friendly Malay fishing village.

The origin of the temple was said to be from a businessman who used to travel along Paku River & nearby tributaries to do businesses. He brought along the deity Ma Zhu & censer in his boat for spiritual support & protection.

As the population of Spaoh grew, he settled down in Spaoh in about 1920 (& became the first Kapitan or village head), and naturally also built a simple temple for Ma Zhu in this small town. As time went by, additional deities were added to the ‘Ma Zhu’ temple as to devotees’ demand.

In the early 1950s (during the Korean War), the demand of local produce (such as pepper) were good; local farmers (many of them Chinese) were having good days. The first rebuilding of the temple was thus initiated partly for thanks giving & there was a week long celebration & religious procession.

The recent upgrade of the temple was done in 2000. Like the previous rebuilding, there was week long celebration & procession; many devotees & visitors from outskirts, other towns came for the occasion.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Catholic Memorial & Pilgrimage Centre, Singai

“ Over a hundred years ago, a small Catholic Chapel was built among the Bidayuh on the slope of Mt. Singai, Bau, Sarawak in 1885. Today this majestic ancestral home of the Bidayuh of Singai is no longer inhabited following the migration of the people to the surrounding lowlands.

The site of the first chapel at Mt. Singai however has been turned into a Memorial and Pilgrimage Centre with the building, completion and blessing of the Centre in November 1999.

The Centre has attracted a lot of Catholics and other Christian Pilgrims and has become very popular with the local Catholics and other Christian denominations and those from other places, so much so that the existing living quarters, especially the washrooms and toilet facilities could no longer cope with the increase in the number of visitors there.”

Above extracts was from a memo (dated 30 July 2007) posted at the CMPC at Mt. Singai, Bau, Sarawak.

Mt. Singai, situated between Bau & Batu Kawa, about 550m high, is located about 40 minutes from Kuching. This is where the Catholic Memorial & Pilgrimage Centre to be found.

The CMPC is located just halfway of the plateau. Access to the holy place is by foot only, from the mountain foot. 30 – 40 minutes is all it takes for a normal healthy person to reach the holy centre.

Today the ancestral home of the Bidayuh, other than devoted Catholics and other Christian denominations, has become a popular weekend destination from the urban dwellers nearby especially Kuching, and also a tourist attraction.

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tua Pek Kong, Miri

The history of Tua Pek Kong Temple, Miri is almost a century. It is one of the well known tourist attraction in Northern Sarawak besides being a place of worship & devotion for local devotees.

It was said that the temple was constructed due partly to an epidemic in 1913 in Miri town. In 1913, the Chinese population of Miri is about just two thousands, mostly settled down around the current wet market areas, with just 4 rows of wooden shoplots.

The Miri oil boom, coupled with population explosion, and unmatched infrastructure such as proper drainage & sewage system had partly caused an outbreak of mysterious disease to the locals, especially Chinese who were residing in the inner-town.
As in the old days, many believed that it was caused by harmful spirits or the like. A Buddhist monk was then invited from Kuching, and the Tua Pek Kong Temple was thus recommended; the rest was history.

Many locals, especially the Chinese, believed that the epidemic in 1913 subsided partly due to the Tua Pek Kong. For the current generation, the temple is a place for devotion & worship especially every 1st & 15th days of the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year, and many other special sacred occasions.

During the 2nd World War, Miri was one of the focuses of the Japanese due to its petroleum industry; many of the shoplots & buildings around the temple were devastated, the temple somehow survived the bombing. It was not known partly due to Tua Pek Kong spiritual power or partly the Japanese, being oriented to some Taoist teachings, respected sacred places & thus avoided those.

The current Temple was rebuilt in 1970s, and was declared a historical building under the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993.

The 12 Nov 2007 fire happened on the 1st day of the Lunar 10th month, a worship peak day, partly was believed due to the extensive heat from joss sticks & candles, which caused short circuit to the electrical wiring.

Like many of the local temples, the Miri Tua Pek Kong will be back as usual or even more glamorous very soon, as can be seen from the dedication & concern of the local devotees, community leaders, businessmen etc.

Hong San Si, Kuching – the legend of the Host Deity

Shen Ong Kong or Kong Teck Choon Ong (in Hokkien dialect) or Guang Ze Zun Wan (广泽尊王) is the host deity of Hong San Si Kuching & many other similar temples in Sarawak.

Unlike many other host deities, Shen Ong Kong has a childlike face with teenage energetic appearance, after all, he was only 16 years old when he (or his human transformation) died, or departed.

Accordingly, he was born in 923 AD on 22nd day of 2nd Lunar Month in Ann Che District in Southern Fujian Province of China, in a farming family. Like many other legendary heavenly beings born into this physical world, the sky was adorned with colorful holy light, and fragrance permeated the whole room during his birth.

Kuo Chung Fook was his name. As a child, he was intelligent & very filial to his parents. He had a very special squared facial feature with big round eyes. However, his parents passed away earlier in his childhood, and he had to work as a shepherd for a landlord called Yang, away from his hometown for 3 years.

As a shepherd, he was treated quite well by Yang as he was dedicated to his works & was respectful to people.

His wealthy landlord or employer, like many other old time loaded persons, invited a Feng Shui master to seek an ideal location or ‘dragon cavity’ for the family cemetery.

Yang treated the master very well, providing good food & shelter & occasionally valuable gifts. The master, to ensure Yang’s sincerity & truthfulness, did not disclose the location for three years. Though Yang did not push hard on the master for the job, his wife had shown frustrating & annoying gestures, and even wanted her husband to get rid of him. The master was aware of the situation & decided to leave.

During the time in Yang’s place, the master had been constantly in touch with Chung Fook & discovered his intelligence & specialty; the master decided to pass on something to the kid.

There was another saying that Chung Fook revealed to the master that the mutton offered by the host was from a dead sheep, and he was so angry and decided to disclose the ideal Feng Shui spot to the shepherd.

The rest of the story was how Chung Fook had followed the directions the master had instructed.

It is believed that the present host deity statue posture (red face with wide open eyes looking afar & one leg hanging down) was his last posture as a human transformation before Chung Fook turned into god, or departed his human life.

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tua Pek Kong Kuching - the Feng Shui Legend

Thus as I had heard & read; at one time, the Kuching Tua Pek Kong Temple was seated on the best Feng Shui location in Kuching; as according to the Feng Shui principle, a hill at the back seat, a small & smooth flowing river in front (the lost Sg Kuching), and the best front view of the highest peak in the area, Gunung Serapi.

The temple was built more than two centuries ago, long before James Brooke, the first White Rajah of Sarawak, arrived in Kuching.

Like most Chinese temples, the temple prosperity affected & associated highly to the businesses, emotion & activities of the local Chinese community in the early days where majority were followers of Taoist related faith.

It was said that after the 1857 Chinese Insurrection in Bau, the Brooke Administration at that time was worried about the Tua Pek Kong prosperity & its influence to the local Kuching Chinese community. The growing strength of the local Chinese might affect the political power of the Brooke Administration.

A plan was thus initiated to weaken the Feng Shui of the Tua Pek Kong Temple.

In 1928, in the name of development, Sg Kuching was filled up for road construction.

The hill (Bukit Pasu or Bukit Mata) at the back of the temple was cut through with an additional road, with the exit just besides the temple, in order to weaken the dragon ‘chi’, as believed locally. The additional road through the hill was viewed as unnecessary by the local Chinese.

The current Chinese History Museum squared building, also believed to be part of the plan, was erected in 1912 just a few meters in front of the temple, to block the good Feng Shui; the building was built initially to mediate local Chinese affairs & other arbitrations.

Good or bad Feng Shui, legends or facts, the Tua Pek Kong Temple continues to stand there as a growing tourist attraction; the legends had long been forgotten, and the temple has gone through the Brooke Dynasty, the British Colonial era, and the Japanese Occupation.

The future & prosperity of Tua Pek Kong Temple will seem to depend more on its harmony with the local tourism, and cultural awareness of the local Chinese community.

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Monday, October 8, 2007

Tua Pek Kong Temple, Kuching

Tua Pek Kong Temple, Kuching

Tua Pek Kong Temple is one of the oldest (or the earliest known) Chinese temple in Sarawak; it is also one of the most famous and mentioned tourist destination in Sarawak.

The temple was believed to be built around the year 1800, more than two centuries; the earliest known official land title issued by Charles Brooke was 29 August 1871.

Like many of the earlier Chinese temple in Sarawak, it was a small & simple hut; the first known renovation was done in the year 1856, and subsequently it was upgraded with ceramic roofing & partial brick walls in 1863.

By the year 1880 when cement was introduced into Sarawak, major parts of the temple were then concreted as to existing look.

The earlier management of the temple before the Japanese occupation was elected informally by yearly cast lots of getting one representative with two ‘taukey’ to assist the required periodic ceremonial & religious occasions.

After the war, the temple was managed by five Chinese Associations from respective major dialects in Kuching. The temple was then transferred officially to Kuching Chinese Community Charitable Trust Board in 1951 until now.

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Saturday, October 6, 2007


The sacred places of worship & devotion here concentrate on religious places mostly of the Taoist & Buddhist origin; particularly of the local Chinese traditions. Some other interesting & holy places of worship of other faiths may also be included.

More than two hundreds years ago, there was an influx of Chinese immigrants, seeking a better living environment, headed out to various parts of the world, including the South East Asia region, where many of them were from Southern China. They brought with them from their home land the culture, traditions and skills to the new settlement; and one of the first things they did when they settled down on the new land was to build a place of worship to thank for the long safe journey, and subsequently to continue the kind of devotion from home, and to provide spiritual supports and protection in the new challenging environment.

The history of Chinese in Sarawak & in many parts of the world can be observed from the histories of these places of worship & devotion, though many of them are now followers of orthodox Buddhism or of other religions such as Christianity.

Local publications on religion do not provide statistics on these places of worship & devotion, whether adherents described themselves as followers of Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, or a mix among these.

This web site & related links hope to provide more information on these historic places in Sarawak, and also serve to remind the cultural heritage of our time; as well as providing meaningful reflections to the younger local Chinese generations.

Black Charcoal.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Tian Hou Gong, Bintawa

Tian Hou Gong, Bintawa

Like many of the Tian Hou Gong in Sarawak or Ma Zhu temples around Southern China; Ma Zhu, the Taoist Goddess of the Sea, is worshipped in the temple; here with two Heavenly Guardians at the sides.

Ma Zhu is widely worshipped among the Chinese communities traditionally engaged in the fishing line of work or whose ancestors lived around the Southern China coastlines.

She is widely worshipped & popular among the Taiwanese, Fujians, Cantonese, and the Chinese in the South East Asia.

According to legend, Ma Zhu or Lin Mo Niang was born in 960 on Meizhou Island, Fujian. She had the gift of heavenly power, and her warm heartedness & eagerness had earned her respects & love from the villagers. She died at the young age of 28; according to one legend, when she climbed a mountain alone and flew to heaven and became a goddess.

The Tian Hou Gong in Bintawa; it was said that in the 1960s or earlier, the local pioneer Heng Hua community live around the Ang Cheng Ho area before been relocated to the present Bintawa. As devotees to Ma Zhu, the earlier Heng Hua people used to commute between the earlier Ang Cheng Ho & the nearby Padungan Tian Hou Gong, a routine practice for a fishing community especially before & after a fishing trip.

After the relocation, a new Tian Hou Gong was then initiated as it was & it still is a more convenient location of worship and to provide the required spiritual needs to the Bintawa community.

The present Tian Hou Gong has gone through many times of upgrading & expansion since then, especially in the 1990s where few of local devotees had contributed tremendously to the current glamorous architecture of the temple.

# Other places of worship & devotion with Ma Zhu as host deity:

From Tian Hou Temp...

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Friday, August 3, 2007

Hock Teck Tsyr, Limbang

Hock Teck Tsyr, Limbang

The Chinese started settlement in Limbang area more than a century ago. Around the year 1887, the pioneer Chinese migrated from Kuching (now the Capital of Sarawak); it was said that one of the senior immigrants started the construction of a small hut, said to be on a nearby small hill, for the Hock Teck Tsyr, or Tua Pek Kong Temple. The Temple had provided them a means of spiritual support as well as encouragement especially during the earlier years of challenging & harsh environment.

This early simple temple was maintained by a small group of devotees until around 1890.

The 1st relocation of a better premise was initiated by a businessman, said to be from Singapore who came to Limbang around that year.

The present premise is of the 2nd relocation as the earlier land was gazetted for Government purposes in 1964. The completion of the current Hock Teck Tsyr was August 1978.

Like most places of worship in Sarawak, the temple here, or Hock Teck Tsyr and its affiliated associations have provided an essential religious center for the devotees, the required spiritual supports, contributions to the local welfare, education; as well as strengthening cultural interactions & practices of the local Chinese community.