Teochow Fishing Village – Kuala Sangge

  • (Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily)

  • A long swiftlet bird house spoils the fishing village view. (Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily)

  • A Catholic Church in Kuala Sangge. (Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily)

Kuala Sangga, a Chinese fishing village on an island, is about half an hour boat journey from Kuala Sepetang, Taiping. Around the end of 19th and early 20th century, a group of Chinese from Teochow, China came and lived here. They built houses along the coastline and lived off the ocean. The whole fishing village was connected by long wooden bridges.

Kuala Sangge is a small fishing village with only a few dozens of households, mostly descent to Zhaoyang Xian. Majority of them carry the surname of Li. They live on shrimp industry and raising livestocks as supplementary. There is no water and electricity supply here and thus, villagers have to drink rainwater. Early immigrants attach great importance to education and they established a Chinese primary school for their children. Most of the first generation immigrants are Catholics. However, only Chinese traditional religion believers are living here nowadays. Catholics have either moved to live in the inland of Kuala Sepetang or being influenced and shifted to believe in Chinese traditional religions. After the World War II, there were 52 households here with the population of about 300 people. But today, there are only 40 households with about 200 people living here. And only more or less than 20 students studying in the Chinese primary school.

"And today, they are even using the wireless system."

Fishermen here are still using a traditional method to catch prawns. Besides, they also catch blood clams. As for pig farming, the industry has disappeared nearly 30 years on the island.

With the development of times, the post-war life of fishermen started to get better. People installed generators for their own electricity supply. Since the 1980s, the state government started to develop Kuala Sangga. They turned wooden bridges into concrete ones and installed a solar powered phone receiver station. And today, they are even using the wireless system. However, they are still drinking rainwater.

There is no police station nor health care centre here. But a few temples could be found here. Although there are no more Catholics on the island, villagers would still worship at the St. Anne Catholic Church with candles every morning. Every first and fifteenth day of each lunar month, villagers would also offer fruits, flowers and a pair of red candles. It is precious and worth mentioning that traditional Chinese religions (particularly Taoism) believers respect and tolerate other religions, which is unlike some narrow-minded religious extremists that unscrupulously reject and even eliminate other religious beliefs.

The Catholic Church has been here since a hundred years ago. During St. Anne's birthday in August every year, priests and believers from outside would conduct mass here. The church was renovated in 1998 and non-Catholics donated money as well. The mutual respect and harmony between traditional Chinese religions and Catholic should be enhanced and glorified!

Today, some fishermen have moved out and mostly to Kuala Sepetang, while some villagers started to run swiftlet farming. There are only a few bird houses here but it is believed that the increase of bird houses will totally change the look of Kuala Sangge.

After Perak has changed its state government this year, Kuala Sangge had its first village committee election in July. A total of 30 people fought hard to sit on the 15-member committee. (Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/ Sin Chew Daily)