As with many of the towns in this part of Perak, Sitiawan has part of the Perak hinterland where commodity crops were grown. The main commodities flowing through Sitiawan were tin and rubber. They were loaded on elephants, carried to the port in Lumut, where the cargo is then loaded onto sailing ships, and later steamships, to be transported to Penang.
The earliest settlers in Sitiawan were Foochow Chinese. They came from Gutian County in Fujian Province, southern China. There was an influx in September 19031 as a result of Boxer Rebellion, which cause a refugee of Christian Foochows out of China. A rather dubious call to fame for Sitiawan is that Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng was born there in 1924.
Etymology of Sitiawan
The name Sitiawan is said to be a portmanteau of Setia Kawan, or Loyal Friend. It refers to a legend of two elephants that drowned Dinding River. The elephants were laden with tin. When one fell into the river, the second elephant hung on to the first, until eventually both were swept away by the tide and drowned. As a result, the settlers called the place Setia Kawan, which later became shortened to Setiawan or Sitiawan, as it is popularly spelled today.
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