Friday, August 14, 2020

 I was pleasantly surprised to receive this email. It's from the 

son of Mr Chew. We older kids knew Father's good friend 

Chiong Tack. He had a shop near the wharf. Father was the 

Secretary of the Old Boy's Association, and Chiong Tack 

was the treasurer. I was indirectly involved because I help 

father to collate the annual report. We remember the DA 

POW from the association dinners. ( That resulted in my first

 published article in the Dolphin magazine).

I will copy Dr John Chew's first email, and his brother Paul 

Chew's comment to my blog post.I am sure they do not 

mind. Both my parents are dead, and finding Mr Chew 

Chiong Tack is like finding our relative.

Dear Ann, 

We have not met but our parents were good friends.

My brother was googling my father's name and came 

across Sarawakiana blog and your posting about my 

mother's wedding dress. My parents are 90 years old 

now and they remembered both your parents well. My Dad

 said your father and him were very good friends,and 

being in the Old Boys committee together for many 

years before your Dad was transferred to Sarikei. . He 

talked about their two heads clashing and my father 

ended up worse off with a black eye.My Mum remembered 

the unfortunate accident involving your Mum. 

This is a picture of their wedding 12th September 1942.
They are in Kuching now with us, and lately have not

 been of their best health.

My brother Paul tried to reply on your blog but I 

think email is better.

I  got to your blog through Sarakiana's blog after googling 

my father's name. My father is Chew Chiong Tack. Yes, he 

was your father's good friend. He even remembered your 

father's black eye from football injury. My parents are now 

staying with us in Kuching. They are both 90 and have fond 

memories of the good old days. 

Paul Chew 

My parents were married during the World War 2, (Japanese 

War), they didn't take a wedding photo. Sometime after mum 

had died in 1988, I tease dad if they eloped. I asked dad if 

Mother wore Aunty Kok Fei's wedding dress because I have 

see Aunty's dress and her wedding photos. Dad said he 

borrowed Mrs. Chew Chiong Tack's wedding dress. I never 

asked why his friend's wife and not Aunty Kok Fei's. I am 

curious, and now I have the opportunity to find out. Uncle 

Kok Fei was sort of Father's best man when they paddled 

the canoe up Rejang River to Durin and fetch Mother down 

to Sibu. 

The Japanese came, at fifteen, Mother gave up her dreams of studying in the big city and became a candidate for a child bride match making session. Ah Tai promised her that she would choose a young man of fine character, educated and from a good family. Ah Tai went out to reconnoiter with her cousin Lai Siong who was a match maker. She must have loved her granddaughter so much to travel during the perilous war time in a little canoe. Together they scoured fifty miles of both sides of Rejang River, and the whole of Sibu town. Word came that five miles upriver was that fine young man who fitted the bill. He was unfortunately not a Hakka but a Kwong Ning boy and a Chan.
Traditionally the Hakka Kongs married only the Hakka

 Lais, and vice versa. The Cantonese Chans married 

only the Cantonese Lees, and vice versa. But then beggars cannot be choosers.

 Was Father a willing partner? Father had to be practical and 

quickly find a wife. For him, it was the fear of forcefully 
conscripted to the Japanese army. 

I have got permission from my Mum for you to use the


Answers to your queries:

1. My grandfather owned a shop selling clothing 

material besides practicing as a Chinese Physician.

 During the Japanese Occupation cloth was in very 

short supply and there was a rush to get married amid 

rumours of conscription and comfort ladies. The 

wedding gown was made by "tukang" 
My Mum made the head band and bouquet out of paper 

flowers herself. Many brides did not wear wedding gown 

because of the rush and of the short supply! My Dad 

said many weddings were celebrated by as much as 

letting off the firecracker and nothing else! Mum said 

your Mum was about her size and she lent the gown to 6 

other brides!

2. The name Rose probably came the Catechism teacher 

so there were many Marys and Roses.

John Chew.


  1. I hope you younger generation become good friends.

  2. Dear Sir/mdm.

    Thank you for writing the comment. I must apologize that I did not read the post. Are you connected with Mr Chew or my Dad. My are still friends even though we are busy and all over the world. Recently, Rose Chew connected me, and I hope we will conect again.


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