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Note: The area code for all telephone numbers in
Sibu and its surroundings, unless otherwise stated, is
084 from outside the area and +6084 from overseas.
All addreses are 93500 Sibu unless otherwise stated.
Sibu is the largest port and commercial centre in the
Rejang Basin and the gateway to Central Sarawak.
Located at the conluence of the Rejang and Igan Rivers,
approximately 130 km from the South China Sea, Sibu
is a thriving modern town with a vibrant centre and a
bustling, crowded waterfront.
that grew locally. The only signiicant populaion was a
To visitors, Sibu feels more down-to-earth than relaxed Melanau village at nearby Kampung Nangka.
Kuching. There is sill something of the pioneer style
about the town, and its people are direct, plain-speaking Sibu’s transformaion began in 1901 with the arrival
and asserively friendly. Of course, their smiles may be of Foochow setlers from southern China, led by the
partly due to the belief that Sibu has more millionaires Reverend Wong Nai Siong. Rev. Wong, a Methodist
per capita than any other city in Borneo. missionary sought to ind a safe haven for his followers,
who were subject to religious persecuion in China. He
The mighty Rejang, almost a mile (1,600 km) wide, is the peiioned Charles Brooke, the 2nd Rajah of Sarawak,
dominant feature of the town, and a room with a river who ofered land in the Lower Rejang to develop
view is highly recommended for vibrant impressions of Sarawak’s agriculture. The irst batch of 72 pioneers
waterfront life. The river is a source of constant acivity, arrived in 1901, and by 1903 over 1,000 Chrisian
Foochows had made their homes in Sibu. They were
with ocean-going vessels manoeuvring delicately
between speeding express boats, batered river later followed by sizeable groups of Henghuas and
launches and iny sampans. Rejang sunsets can be truly Cantonese during the 1st World War period.
The early Chinese setlers planned to culivate rice, but
Sibu is not only fascinaing in its own right; with its found that the soil was unsuitable for proitable rice
excellent road, air and river transport links it is also the farming and turned their atenion to pepper, rubber
ideal jumping-of point for exploring the whole Rejang and gambier (a sicky resin formerly used in place
Basin, from the coastal town of Mukah to the furthest of rubber). Despite famine, fever, loods and other
reaches of the Upper Rejang, over 600km upriver. hardships, the early setlers eventually made their
new home a success. They were capably led by the
People determined Rev. Wong, ably assisted by the Hoovers,
an American missionary couple who played a major role
in the development of Methodism in Sarawak.
The residents of Sibu are predominantly Foochow
Chinese, originaing from the Fuzhou region of southern
China, and the town is oten referred to as New Fuzhou. By the mid-1920s Sibu had the appearance of a fully
However Sibu’s ethnic mix is as varied as anywhere else ledged town. However disaster struck in 1928, when a
in Borneo, with smaller proporions of other Chinese major ire destroyed almost all of Sibu’s predominantly
dialect groups - as well as Malays, Melanaus, Ibans and wooden buildings. The hardy setlers simply picked up
Orang Ulus - making the town their home. their tools and built the town all over again, but Sibu
was once more devastated, this ime by Allied bombing,
History during the WWII Japanese Occupaion. Hundreds of
local people were killed, not only by the bombing but
Unil the beginning 19th century, Sibu was a sleepy also by savage Japanese repression of the local Chinese
trading setlement in the lower Rejang area, named for community, who were irm supporters of Chinese
the rambutan fruits (buah sibau in the Iban language) independence.
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