LAU King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum in Sibu — the sole medical museum in Malaysia — will be renovated and upgraded to preserve its rich history.
The former hospital was built in 1936, with half of its construction cost donated by the late Lau King Howe, a Foochow from China.
Lau, who came to Sibu and ventured into rubber plantation, had sold off his assets to fund the project before returning to China.
The hospital was demolished in 1994 after seeing fewer patients following the completion of Sibu Hospital.
The museum was set up on Aug 3,1996 to house most of the medical equipment from the hospital.
On April 7, Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum Association (LKHHMMA) Sibu and University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to further expand facilities at the museum.
At the ceremony, Assistant Housing and Local Government Minister Dr Annuar Rapaee said RM50,000 was allocated to UCTS to conduct a study on how the museum could be upgraded.
“In six months, they will come up with a proposal and we will forward it to the state government.
“They will not only have to come up with the design, but also carry out research on all the equipment and old apparatus used by the hospital. So that is a lot of work, ” he said, adding that he would seek funding from the state government for the upgrading work.
Dr Annuar, who is also Nangka assemblyman, said he wanted the museum to become a heritage centre not only to draw tourists but also for the people to remember the contribution of Lau, who sold his possessions to finance the construction of the first hospital in Sibu.
The hospital, he said, was a centre of unity among the community of different races.
About 80% of the current population from Sibu was born in that hospital, he added.
He also suggested the setting up of a “Babies of Lau King Howe” fund to encourage those who were born there to donate between RM1 and RM2 each year to help with the museum’s upkeep.
“If Lau King Howe can donate almost all his properties to build this hospital, what is RM1 to us for maintenance of this museum, ” he said.
UCTS vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Khairuddin Abdul Hamid said that under the MOA, the hospital memorial museum association would appoint a team of professional architects, IT experts and lecturers from the university as project consultants for the renovation and upgrading works of the museum.
“Our team will also be involved in the design and development of animated characters based on the history of the hospital, ” he added.
LKHHMMA chairman Datuk Vincent Lau said the museum recorded an average of 8,000 visitors every year since its launch in 2008.