MUKAH: A block of shophouse built in mid-20th century and a theatre are the only two old commercial buildings left standing in the old town here after fires ravaged the rest in 1989, 2002 and 2008.
Former teacher Kang Siew Hai, 82, who is also Mukah Division Senior Citizens Service Centre executive committee member, remembered very well all the three fire incidents.
He said the first fire broke out on April 13,1989 at 4.30am, the second one on Aug 13, 2002 at about 7.15am, and the last one on Feb 18, 2008 at 7.20pm, which also partially burnt his family’s shop.
“All the wooden shophouses were built in 1950,” Kang, who is also Mukah Buddhist Association advisor, said on Tuesday (Sept 22).
New Sarawak Tribune asked him about the age of the only two buildings left standing in the old town here.
According to him, prior to 1950, there were also some wooden shophouses, but all were burnt down in 1944 during the Japanese Occupation.
He said the business community then started to rebuild their shophouses out of scratch, by using nipah palm leaves as roof, wood bark as wall and kajang (woven nipah palm leaves) as partitions.
Kang, who is also Chiang Chuan Association advisor, revealed that in 1949, the government gave a loan amounting to 60 per cent to the business people to encourage them to own new shophouses.
He added in 1950, a contractor, Liu Chin from Kuching, built all the new wooden shophouses comprising 55 units.
Now Mukah old town image has changed with the establishment of some new concrete shophouses and other commercial buildings.