SIBU: The Reverend (Dr) James Matthew Hoover (1872-1935) was the first Methodist Missionary sent to serve among the Foochow immigrants in Sibu, Sarawak. His ministry here had resulted in the solid development of the Methodist Church.
In 1904, he was appointed by Rajah Charles Brooke of Sarawak as the “head of all the Sarawak Foochows”, a position he held until his death in 1935 at the age of 63.
He discharged his responsibilities as a missionary and political leader well. In fact, it is fitting to call him the father of development of the Foochow community in Sibu as his emphasis on church establishment, education, social concern and economic development yielded far reaching results.
According to the memorial, during his lifetime, he established 41 churches and 40 schools along the Rajang Basin in Sarawak where in 1904; he married Ethel Mary Young in Penang.
In addition, he created history and modernised Sibu by pioneering a number of ‘firsts’ in Sibu, including planting the first rubber seedlings, rice huller, girls’ school, agriculture school, bicycle, ice-making machine, circular saw and wireless telegraph machine.
To commemorate his astounding contribution to the Foochow community in Sibu during those years, Hoover Memorial Garden was built in 2003 at Sungai Merah Town.
It was officiated by the then Minister of Urban Development Tourism Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh in 2007.