HOMEnews: A Model of Lau Kah Tu’s Mansion

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ON the 12th March 2016, the Board of Archives and History handed over to the Methodist Heritage Gallery a large scale model – the model of the mansion of Lau Kah Tu, the late headman of Foochow Settlement, located by the Rejang River.

The mansion, measuring in length 96 ft, width 48 ft and height 40 ft, was built in 1924. It was said that this mansion was the largest house along the Rejang River (today the rural areas of the West Bank). The mansion was unique in its magnificent architecture and fine workmanship.

The magnificent mansion not only served as the residence of Lau Kah Tu and his family; it was also the temporary shelter of the newly arrived Foochow migrants. These Foochow migrants were then waiting for allocation of land or for completion of their living quarters.

Carpenters from China were employed to construct the mansion which took 2 years to complete at the total cost of around twenty thousand Sarawak Dollars. The mansion had 18 rooms and housed the residential areas, a place for civil arbitration as well as an old style private school.

Over time, with development and societal changes, a large number of the rural population moved from the area. In the 1980s, the mansion completed its historical mission and after being vacant for a long time it was demolished.

When Mr. Lau Pang Hung, the 88 year-old son of the late Lau Kah Tu looked at the scale model, he recalled with tears in his eyes, “Seeing this ancestral home reminds me of those years of parental upbringing!” The mansion was completed in 1924 and he was born in the mansion in 1929. His father (Lau Kah Tu) was very strict with them. His father would go to the town for business on Monday and return on Saturday. On Saturday, the children were always both apprehensive and joyful: joyful because they would be seeing their father whom they had missed for a week, apprehensive because he would deal with them for any wrong doings in his absence.

Mr. Lau thanked God for leading and guiding their family and giving them the chance to serve the Lord. He also thanked the craftsman of the scale model Mr Hii Kai Yung for exhibiting the original structure of the mansion.

Rev. Su Chii Ann, the President of the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference, witnessed the handing over of the model of Lau Kah Tu’s Mansion and said that when he saw the model of the mansion he saw God’s greatness. When Lau Kah Tu came to this land in 1924 how could he have thought of building such a big house with 18 rooms! He believed that this was the wisdom that God granted Mr. Lau.

Rev. Su said that at the time when the migrants were coming here they had had the vision to feed a large number of people. They toiled, plowed and traded to build such a big house. It was not an easy task for these early migrants and they had worked very hard indeed. In contrast, today, raising 2-3 children is no simple matter.  Irregardless of their achievements in faith, upbringing, career, we have to salute them.\

Rev. Su believed that God granted wisdom to Hii Kai Yung, the craftsman of the scale model, and thanked him for helping us to understand the importance of seeking God’s help in all undertakings.

Reported by Steve Ling
Translated by KT Chew

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