According to an old story, the Malays called this little town Kampung Binatang. This is because during the engkabang season, a lot of animals came out to eat the fruits that dropped from the engkabang trees along the bank of the Rajang. There was probably a Malay kampung situated nearby. In 1984, the Sarawak government instructed that the name Binatang District be changed to avoid sensitivity pertaining to the name of the place. Such as, it was said VIPs and leading government officers became uneasy when they were introduced during functions — example: Encik Sulaiman, District Officer Binatang. Then, the Sarawak Government Gazette (Part 2), dated February 13, 1984, said: “The name Binatang District has been altered to Meradong while the town’s name is officially Bintangor, taken from the name of a tree widely available here. In Chinese, Bintangor called as Ming Dan. For Foochow, DAN in Chinese means pill for a cure, usually given by an immortal or devised by a famous medicine man in Chinese folklore. Ming Dan means bright pill. This name comes from a Malay cikgu once remarked: “It’s good really if our town is called Bandar Jamu. I’m sure some entrepreneurs would come together to build an outlet to produce health pills, using all the local herbs and plants. That will make our town even more famous than our infamous name of Binatang.” Jamu is a Malay word for Dan or pill. So, the name of Ming Dan is formed. Foochows’ three knives. The Foochows have been enterprising in many parts of the world — in particular Malaysia. They came to Sarawak with nothing. But they brought along three knives – one of them was a pair of scissors. Binatang started with one tailor shop and later more were set up by other dialectic groups. Hence, it was not surprising the Singer Sewing Machine was hugely popular here — and remains so till today. Many parents would buy a ‘Singer’ as part of the dowry for their beloved daughters. In the past, sewing was a very important living...
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