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Thy Kangdom come ...
We created this site to chart a roadmap of some of the special moments and milestones in the life of the Kang's. The current diaspora started in the 60's through the 70's with the Kang clan spreading out and establishing homestead in Sibu and Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia), Christchurch (New Zealand) and San Francisco (USA). Let's hope that all generations of this Kang-dom will be able to make use of this portal to learn and reflect on the rather brief traceable history of the clan.
The "patriarch" and our father, 甘興宇 Kang Hing Yii (1919-1995), was just four months old when his maternal mother 張珠容 Zhang Zhu Rong took him with her on a treacherous boat journey from Fukien Province in south-east China to Sarawak in Borneo. The elders were muzzled about what exactly happened. All we know for sure is that grandma pleaded with 鄭 Tang to allow her to keep the newly born baby (father) with her. The boat party arrived safely at their destination, Sibu, a new settlement for immigrant workers who formed a part of the Great Chinese Diaspora (19th century - 1949). This was during the height of colonialism where there was a dire need of a large pool of manual laborers or coolies (Chinese: 苦力, translated hard labor). The White Rajahs, rulers of the Kindom of Sarawak (1841-1946), recruited Fuzhou workers to open up the fertile land of the Rejang Delta for cultivation.
Grandma bore two sons for Tang. Father adopted the family name of Tang, and was quite content to perform his filial duty as the oldest son. At a tender age, father cultivated rice fields to sustain the family because Tang was frequently absent. Grandma was wise to also understand the importance of a good education so father would take a boat to Sibu township so he could receive instructions at the Catholic Mission. The untimely death of his step-father triggered a momentous event. It is told that some unscrupulous members of the Tang clan sought to disconnect father from any inheritance since he was only an adopted son. Father was so indignant that he voluntarily quit any claim to the estate, and he also vowed to restore his family name to 甘 Kang which he did so as soon as he was of legal age. All this, however, did not affect the affection father continued to share with his mother and the younger siblings 鄭興富 Tang Hing Hock and 鄭興安 Tang Hing Ang. This close kinship is maintained in the next generation of Kang and Tang families to the extent that we even shared the common romanized generation name of "Ing".
Father taught school for awhile. At the end of World War 2 and Japanese Occupation, he joined the civil service and then decided to be in business himself. He set up a paralegal practice and became a popular scribe for a multi-racial clientile. Father was elected to the Sibu Rural Council at a young age. He did not like all the politicking so he did not seek re-election; instead, he chose to serve as a 區長 headman for the Chinese community of Area No. 9 (Tanjong Kunyit), a position he held from 1959-1970. Growing up, we always enjoyed accompanying father as he officiated, among other things, the many colorful tradtional Chinese weddings in his constituency.
It was father’s dream to visit his birthplace to find out what happened to his own father and an older brother who was left behind. Due to the restriction on travels between Malaysia and China during the Cold War and communist insurgencies in the region, he was only able to make the home-coming journey until the 1980’s. Unfortunately, as he was about to find out, his father had apparently passed away sometime after the departure of grandma to Nanyang 南洋 ("South Sea" or South-east Asia). Father’s older and only brother also did not survive when a harsh famine had befallen on the land some years later. He was unmarried and left no children. It was unclear if there was any tombstone to mark the burial sites.
Our mother, Loh Kiew Eng (1923-1996)
Mother 羅巧訇 (Loh Kiew Eng) was born in Sibu. Her family originally came from Minchiang (Minquing) outside Fuzhou City. She was supposed to follow her older sisters who had gone ahead to Singapore for further schooling. It was not to be. World War 2 started and Japanese occupation armies arrived. Instead, mother was sent to a local rural school to learn English. The English teacher was .. er, father. They fell in love and were soon married. Mother was a homemaker but was so resourceful that she was able to buy several builidngs and lands with savings from selling eggs. It was only years later that father happily found out about mother's "secret" investment nest and her entrepreneurship.
The extension of the Kangdom
Our parents had planned to have four children. Without the access to the Ancestral Book at that time, they picked 人 ren (Humanity, a fundamental virtue of Confucianism) as the first character in the personal name. This first character is to be shared by all members of a generation. For the second character, parents adopted the ancient imperial dictum and chéngyǔ of 正大光 明 Zheng Da Guang Ming (which means upright, aboveboard and glorious). As it happened, the second child (Da) did not survive an infection shortly after birth. Later in life, they decided to have another child who they named 平 Bing.
The list of the children are:
|1) Kang Ing Ching 甘人正|
|2) Kang Ing Kwong (Colin) 甘人光|
|3) Kang Ing Ming 甘人明|
|4) Kang Ing Bing (Francis) 甘人平|