Religious beliefs and institutions have been a major force in Malaysian Chinese community.
Although most Malaysian Chinese refer themselves as Buddhists, but their actual practice is a blend of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.
The religious beliefs and practices of the early Chinese immigrants centered on ancestor worship, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and nature spirits. Ancestor worship was especially important as a source of community cohesion and as a mechanism to maintain ties with the homeland.
As is the case with the religion in East Malaysia, it started as early as 1880. Rajah Charles Brooke founded Fort Kapit in 1880 as a garrison town, primarily to prevent the Iban from migrating up-river and attacking Orang Ulu settlements.
Initially settled by Hoklo (Hokkien) Chinese in 1880, additional Ka Chinese immigrants arrived in 1906, and Fuzhou Chinese in 1919. The Chinese grew rubber and pepper and traded treated rubber sheet and forest products.
Due to people from the many immigrant cultures bring their beliefs and the practices that accompany them as they comprise distinct and cultural groups, Hock Leong Tieng Temple is the only Chinese temple in this town and locally known as Tua Pek Kong in Kapit. They centered on the belief in a transcendent being Tua Pek Kong can watch over her and her family and bring them happiness, protection, safety, and wealth.
Located at the centre of the town overlooking the mighty Rejang River, besides the Teresang Market and behind is the sole Chinese primary school in Kapit district, strategically it is a feng shui place to bring abundance and more prosperity to Kapit.
Tua Pek Kong was originally the god of the land or Tudi Gong. The worship of Tua Pek Kong has spread across the world wherever there is a Chinese settlement.
It is a unique culture of the Chinese community as there is a temple, mostly dedicated to Tua Pek Kong. The deity ruled over the land where the people had settled, and it became the head of the community, supervising the harmony of the locality where the temple was set up.
The settlers called it Tau Pek Kong or the Great Uncle Deity to show reverence to the god for taking care of their families as the settlers were lonely; they had no one to turn to for help and comfort in their hardship. They needed blessings, comfort and harmony and they turned to the god of the locality. Affectionately they called him the great uncle god.
Based on the history of the temple, it dates back to the year 1898 when it was built by the early Chinese settlers in Kapit, marking its 116 years of existence this year and hence, one of the oldest heritage buildings in the division.
When fire broke out in Kapit in 1940s, the temple was spared from the fire. The Japanese and Royal British Army bombings during the 2nd world war miraculously left the temple untouched.
The building materials used for the construction of the temple were shipped all the way from mainland China, a journey that took months in the early days. The construction of the temple was carried out by expert workers from China too.
The management of the temple committee is headed by one of Chinese community leaders in Kapit, Kapitan Yong Thu Fook. It became the popular tourist attraction in Kapit.
Tua Pek Kong