Friday, September 30, 2011

12 per cent increase in tourist arrivals to Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has for the first time, experienced a double-digit growth in tourist arrivals this year, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He said the number of tourist arrivals increased to 12 per cent as of July, contributed by countries such as China, Taiwan, Korea and Australia.

He said Sabah usually experienced a six percent increase at the highest. “The most significant arrivals were from China with a majority of high end tourists.

“There was even one month when their arrival shot up to 42 per cent,” he told reporters after representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the launch of the Accor Hotels’ Sabah website here yesterday.

Masidi also expects visitors from China, with about 76,200 as of July, to possibly overtake those from Korea which is currently at around 80,000.

Tourist arrivals from peninsular have also contributed to the sharp increase in the number of visitors.

“I recently met with the new chairman and managing director of Malaysia Airlines and suggested that the airline start direct flights between Kota Kinabalu, Beijing and Shanghai.

“We need to give MAS some time to adjust to their new management. But the feedback that I got was that it is only the issue of availability of aircraft,” he said.

He said at present, there was only the Kota Kinabalu-Hong Kong route being served.

“We expect a big influx of visitors from China if Kota Kinabalu is connected to more cities in China, with the country fast becoming a world economy, and more millionaires being created there than in any part of the world,” Masidi added.

On the event, he welcomed Accor’s initiative as it was a strategy that not only benefit Accor group, but most importantly is that it could introduce Sabah to the world with only a click.

“What we need is to ensure we have good service quality. This is also an effort to educate the world community that we have a state called Sabah in Malaysia, and Sabah can offer travel products superior or better, especially in tourism to the world.

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Firefly begins silent cancellation in Sarawak, leaving passengers and tour operators fuming

KUCHING: Firefly, Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) community airline, has apparently begun cancelling some of its flights to and from Sarawak since yesterday.

This is ahead of Firefly’s rumoured pullout from the state by end of October.

It was learnt that at least one Kuching-Kuala Lumpur flight was cancelled late last night, with passengers put onboard a MAS flight instead. The unannounced move has left more than a few ticket holders unhappy.

“My Kuching-KL flight yesterday evening was cancelled after I booked it online just a few days earlier,” said Ng CH in an e-mail.

“I read in newspapers about the possible cancellations. When I checked (with Firefly), I was informed my flight had indeed been cancelled. They transferred me to a MAS flight, which was departing at about the same time.”

A senior MAS official confirmed that Firefly flights involving Sarawak without enough passengers, “to break even financially”, were being cancelled.

“The standard operation procedure is like this: When a last minute cancellation occurs because of too few passengers, then, preferably, affected ticket holders will be placed on the next Firefly flight. But when the (departure) time is too far apart, a FIM will be issued,” he explained.

FIM is an aviation terminology for “Flight Interruption Manifest”. It is normal for airlines to issue FIMs, especially among affordable airlines.

“Once the FIM is issued, passengers can be put onboard MAS,” the official added.

It was not determined how many of Firefly’s Kuching-KL-Kuching flights have been cancelled, or how many will be cancelled in the coming weeks.

Of the four Kuching-KL flights listed on Firefly’s website for today, only two evening flights are priced and with tickets bookable online.

For tomorrow, Firefly has three Kuching-KL flights on sale. For Sunday, five are on sale; but for Monday, there are only three flights again. Efforts to contact Firefly for comments on its scheduling were unsuccessful. Talk of Firefly being downsized surfaced after the MAS-AirAsia share swap deal was announced in August.

During Firefly’s peak around mid-year, the airline was flying multiple daily flights between Kuching-KL, Kuching-Johor and Sibu-KL. It had a reported load factor of 70%.

But Firefly is now all but certain to cease flights from Sarawak and Sabah to Peninsular Malaysia by the end of October. On Malaysia Day on Sept 16, the Kuching-Johor sector became the first Firefly route to be axed.

According to the MAS official, it was very likely all three Firefly routes involving Sarawak would be terminated by Oct 31.

He said this had “more or less been confirmed internally (with MAS and its subsidiaries)”, pending an official public announcement.

Continue reading at: Firefly begins silent cancellation in Sarawak, leaving passengers and tour operators fuming
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Website to promote Sabah to international travellers

KOTA KINABALU: The world’s leading hotel manager and market leader in Europe, Accor, has launched its Destination-Malaysia Sabah website at accorhotels.com/sabah, to promote Sabah to international travellers and existing Accor customers who are new to the destination.

The company which operates in 90 countries with 145,000 employees, is aiming to increase visitors to Malaysia, particularly in Sabah through cross referrals and digital multimedia content collaboration with the relevant authorities.

Accor vice president Gerard Guillouet in an opening speech said this during the launching at Novotel, 1 Borneo Hypermall yesterday.

“This website has been designed to constantly provide updated information, in partnership with both Sabah Tourism Board and Tourism Malaysia to the Internet users so that informed decisions can be made as to their travel itineraries.

“It is my earnest wish that Accor and the Sabah state government become synonymous in the world of tourism so that we can jointly work towards truly making Sabah a must-see on the global tourism map,” said Guillouet

He added that Sabah and its tourist assets are renowned worldwide and is aptly reflected by the increasing number of direct flights to the city from the various cities in the region as well as the rapidly growing numbers of tourist arrivals to Sabah.

Accor is delighted to partner with Sabah Tourism Board and Tourism Malaysia in working very closely to constantly push the tourism agenda to new heights.

He said the successful partnership was evident in the four hotels that currently have operations in Malaysia, namely Novotel 1Borneo in the city, Pullman Kuching, Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside and Novotel Kuala Lumpur City Centre.

The success of these ventures, he said, had encouraged the company to expand its network of hotels with three more projects that are soon to be opened in the near future.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

MASwings eyeing to become household name in Sabah and Sarawak

KUCHING: MASwings aspires to be a household brand for the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

The community airline had held many activities in the past five months to position MASwings as an airline that serves the need of the people in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Being a community airline, I realise the importance of MASwings to the people of Sabah and Sarawak. Therefore, I tell MASwings employees that they really need to perform to serve the people in Sabah and Sarawak,” said the managing director of MASwing Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang during MAS and MASwings Raya open house at Hilton Kuching Hotel yesterday.

He revealed that 85 per cent of Maswings staff from Sabah and Sarawak. Out of 1,300, some 1,100 employees are from both states.

Capt Mohd Nawawi said he understood the difficulties faced by the people in rural places such as Bario and Ba Kelalan in getting from one place to another.

With MASwings as the lifeline for the people in the interior, he said the community airline looks forward to playing its role in serving the interior communities in Sabah and Sarawak, even with the limited equipment it has — 10 ATR aircrafts and four Twin Otters.

Besides serving the people of Sabah and Sarawak, Capt Mohd Nawawi said MASwings also aspires to expand beyond the shores of Sabah and Sarawak to position itself for the future.

“When I came in to lead the company five months ago, I realised I’m in the privileged position to take the airline into the future. When I came on board in April, my first task was to expand into BIMP-Eaga.

“Initially, our target was to start our operations in July and I thought three months down the road I could start our first operation into BIMP Eaga,” he said.

Continue reading at: MASwings eyeing to become household name in Sabah and Sarawak
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Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari to be an annual April affair

KAPIT: The Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari will be permanently held every April from next year.

Minister of Land Development Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said the event should be held consistently at the same time.

“We need to fix the date and the month for the international raft race to be held so as to attract more participation both locally and from outside,” he said when officiating at a dialogue at Rumah Ajai recently.

He pointed out that the change of date this year could be why the number of teams dropped from 41 last year to 27 this time round.

“Perhaps the decline in the number of participants could be due to the frequent changes of the date for the competition as they had prepared themselves for the competiti on that is expected to be held in April.

“The safari should have been carried out in April this year, however it was postponed to July to give way to the state election. Unfortunately, the date was again postponed to September,” he said adding that the raft safari aims to promote Kapit as a tourism destination for nature, adventure and culture.

During the event, Masing also announced a grant of RM5,000 for the Rumah Ajai women’s bureau.

Meanwhile, when officiating at the second transit point of the raft race at Rumah Anding, Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Billy Abit Joo said the competition had helped foster closer ties among participants and longhouse communities.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari to be an annual April affair
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rehabilitation of orangutans in Sabah bears fruit

KOTA KINABALU: Several images of orang-utans building nests in replanted trees were captured by WWF-Malaysia in the newly restored degraded area at the northern part of Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve (NUS), Lahad Datu, where efforts to rehabilitate wildlife habitat were initiated by Sabah Forestry Department (SFD).

These efforts give hope that the wildlife population in this degraded forest will increase before long.

Datuk Sam Mannan, the director of Sabah Forestry Department, expressed contentment upon seeing that the reforestation efforts are helping the orang-utans in NUS.

He also mentioned that the best for the survival of this species is to have well-managed forests as a home.

A mixture of native tree species were planted in NUS with the aim of enhancing quality of wildlife habitat and food sources, especially for the orang-utans.

“The declaration of restoration efforts in Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve on March 15, 2006 is strategically linked to the largest endangered population of the Bornean orang-utan, subspecies Pongo pygmaeus morio, in Sabah,” said Sam.

The Ulu Segama-Malua Sustainable Forest Management, covering an area of 241,098 hectares (ha), was initiated by the state government and is jointly managed by SFD and Yayasan Sabah (YS) for the conservation and rehabilitation of habitat for endangered wildlife.

SFD has partnered WWF-Malaysia in reforestation efforts within 2,400 ha of the NUS area since 2008.

WWF-Malaysia chief technical officer (Borneo programme) Dr Rahimatsah Amat was delighted to see that the orang-utan conservation efforts in NUS were bearing fruit.

“The orang-utan is the largest arboreal (tree-living) animal in the world. They spend most of their time in trees; feeding, sheltering and travelling through the forest canopy from one tree to another. Without trees, it would be difficult for orang-utans to survive.”

Thus, his hope is to see orang-utans continue utilising the restored forest area, which has more replanted trees for food, shelter and travel.

“We’re already seeing some really exciting results from our research and monitoring team, reporting evidence of much wildlife starting to return to the restored areas of the degraded forest. Not just orang-utans but also other wildlife such as clouded leopard, sun bear and many more endangered species

There was a herd of wild Borneo pygmy elephants that passed through our reforestation site early this year but fortunately, they didn’t cause any major damage to the replanted trees. On the other hand, the elephants have left their dung at the replanted site as a tremendous natural fertiliser,” added Dr Rahimatsah.

A video clip of an orangutan swinging on replanted trees at WWF Malaysia’s Youtube site can be viewed below:



Continue reading at: Rehabilitation of orangutans in Sabah bears fruit
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Riot of colour and culture expected at Baram Regatta

MIRI: Marudi will be a riot of colour and culture when the people of the Baram Basin don traditional costumes to showcase their rich cultural heritage in Baram Regatta 2011.

The historic regatta dating back over a century was a peace-making event to mark the end of tribal wars and headhunting.

Organising chairman Datuk Sylvester Entri Muran, who is also Assistant Minister of Public Utilities (Water Supplies) and Marudi assemblyman said the Baram Regatta would be an opportunity to showcase the cultural uniqueness of the people.

“I call on the people of Baram – Orang Ulu, Chinese, Iban, Malay and other communities – to come deck out in their traditional costumes on Oct 1-2 as this is the time to showcase our ethnicity and identity,” he said.

The carnival-like atmosphere will descend on Marudi, also known as Claude Town in the colonial days.

The carnival kicks off with the Baram Idol singing competition at Marudi town square on Oct 28; the semi-finals will be held the following night together with the finals of the sape competition.

Miss Baram Beauty Contest preliminary rounds will kick off on Sept 30 while Baram Idol champion would be decided the same night from the seven finalists in the 1Malaysia Cultural Nite programe.

The remote controlled boat competition and trade expo would be held during the day.

On Oct 1 morning, Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Mohamad Salahuddin will officiate at the opening of the 104th edition of the Baram Regatta as paddlers battle for glory in the Baram River.

Continue reading at: Riot of colour and culture expected at Baram Regatta
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AirAsia-MAS tie-up offers growth opportunities for Sarawak's Hornbill Skyways

KUCHING: Hornbill Skyways sees great potential in helicopter services in Sarawak following the Malaysia Airline-AirAsia collaboration.

Although AirAsia and MASFirefly flights are affordable there is already public anxiety as to whether they (people) are still going to enjoy the cheap fare.

“Although Hornbill Skyways may find that the plan is capital and labour-intensive, they must also see it as a business venture worth pursuing and a great social obligation to Sarawakians. We can’t deny the fact that the majority of the people still want affordable air fares,” Dato Ahmad Ibrahim, an entrepreneur said when met recently.

He proposed that Hornbill Skyways look into the suggestion because “if realised it will become a pride for Sarawakians”.

“It would be great if Sarawakians take up this venture because we can then have our own airline. Besides, it will create more jobs.”

Ahmad, however, said that to realise this dream, Hornbill Skyways would have to expand, diversify into airline service provider and increase its fleet and manpower from time to time to be more effective.

He acknowledged that such venture and running an airline company would need massive investment and capital.

Sarawak Tourism Board CEO Datuk Rashid Khan meanwhile believed that MAS’ collaboration with AirAsia would not adversely affect the state’s tourism sector.

“The airline would continue to support the state tourism industry,” he said, adding that a new
airline would emerge following the MAS-AirAsia collaboration.

On talks that Firefly was downsizing and cancelling flights and routes in the wake of the collaboration, Rashid said he would talk in detail about the implication of cancelled routes in the next few days.

On the suggestion that Hornbill Skyways should venture into airline business, he said the company would need huge capital to see it through.

Social activist Datuk Anthony Nait said it would take great political will to see the helicopter service provider take the challenge.

“Besides, huge capital is needed to run an airline company. But if Hornbill Skyways really wants it and successfully realises the plan, then we can say it is our pride,” he said.

State Democratic Action Party (DAP) treasurer Violet Yong who is also Pending assemblywoman said there must be some good reasons for routes to be cancelled.

On the cancellation of Firefly’s Kuching-Johor route (now) and the Kuching-Kuala Lumpur on Oct 31, Yong said if the routes were not attractive enough they were bound to be cancelled.

Since airline business and tourism sector are usually interlinked, miscommunication between MAS and the state tourism players could be a factor.

Continue reading at: AirAsia-MAS tie-up offers growth opportunities for Sarawak's Hornbill Skyways
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Firefly pullout will dampen Sarawak target of four million tourist arrivals

KUCHING: Firefly’s impending pullout from Sarawak before the yearend may mean that the targeted four million foreign tourist arrivals, a figure set by state authorities earlier this year, is unlikely to be achieved.

This is according to Sarawak Tourism Federation, an umbrella association for the private sector, which said the pullout would be a huge setback for the industry, coming just months after Royal Brunei Airlines closed its Kuching-Brunei route.

Federation president Audry Wan Ullok said Firefly’s high flight frequency – up to seven times daily between Kuching and Kuala Lumpur – plus the high load factor of about 70% would be a big gap to fill.

“My feeling is we will really start to feel the impact (of Firefly’s possible pullout) during the year-end school holiday,” Audry told The Star here yesterday.

“Domestic tourists make up a very big part of our industry. Because of that, cheap airfares have always been an important ingredient of Sarawak’s tourism.

“As for non-Malaysian tourists, they have to transit because of lack of direct flights. Travel expenses to Sarawak are a big part of tourist budgets. Often times, travelling costs more than accommodation.”

Last year, about 3.2 million tourists came to Sarawak, out of which 1.4 million were domestic travellers.

Peninsular Malaysians made up about 747,000, and Sabahans about 625,000.

Non-Malaysian arrivals were just over 1.9 million, with Bruneians making up about 1.19 million.

For 2011, arrivals in Sarawak was increasing. Year-to-date arrivals growth had been around 20%, with the rate of non-Malaysian arrivals increasing faster than domestic travellers.

Continue reading at: Firefly pullout will dampen Sarawak target of four million tourist arrivals
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Firefly’s Kuching-Kuala Lumpur route scrapped

KUCHING: Firefly, the two-year-old affordable wing of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has cancelled its second route between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, with more cancellations likely.

The airline has ceased to sell Kuching-Kuala Lumpur tickets for flights after Oct 31 on its website, and tour agents are aware of the cancellation.

Firefly’s Kuching ticketing office yesterday said, ticket holders for flights beginning Nov 1 “will most likely be put onboard MAS”.

“That is most probably what will happen.

“That is what we are telling ticket holders for now. We are not sure of anything at this point.

“A new (flight) schedule has not been released,” said the ticketing office personnel, who declined to be named as he was not authoritised to speak on the matter.

The Kuching-Kuala Lumpur cancellation comes after Kuching-Johor was cancelled on Sept 15.

Firefly was flying three routes between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia (and with high frequency) around mid year.

The only Firefly route left for Sarawak is between Sibu-Kuala Lumpur.

Firefly’s website is still selling tickets for those flights.

However, a well-placed source within MAS’ Sarawak management said yesterday that Firefly’s online ticket sales “should not be considered as an indicator of flight availability”.

“My staff and I have been told to wait for an internal announcement (that will come) by the end of this week,” the senior staff said. “We think it will be regarding the route rationalisation. Stage by stage the Firefly flights are taken off one sector at a time.”

The Malaysian aviation industry is undergoing its most extensive flight rationalisation exercise in recent weeks. This follows the surprise announcement of a MAS-AirAsia shareswap deal in August.

Since then, it has been an open secret that Firefly’s jet aircraft routes would be scrapped. Media reports have said it was not a matter of “if” but “when”.

Sarawak Tourism Federation president Audry Wan Ullok, when asked about this yesterday, said talk was that Firefly would cease all jet aircraft routes by November.

She said the deal to end such a large portion of Firefly’s operations – this is according to her sources in the state Tourism and Heritage Ministry – was brokered and finalised over the recent Hari Raya.

Continue reading at: Firefly’s Kuching-Kuala Lumpur route scrapped
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Huge potential for Pelagus Rapids as adventure tourism destination

KAPIT: Deputy Minister of Tourism Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit sees a great potential for Pelagus Rapids to be developed and promoted as an adventure tourism destination, especially for white water rafting.

“Pelagus Rapids is the icon of the Kapit tourism industry when properly developed. Since the impoundment of Bakun HEP, the river landscape has drastically changed. The numerous islands in the middle of the river and white water are excellent for river cruise. The strong current at the rapids is perfect for white water safari like kayaking,” he said.

This was his comment when approached by pressmen who followed him on a speed boat ride to the Pelagus Rapids on Sunday afternoon.

He was accompanied by Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot, his deputy Mohd Ikhmal Abdullah, Kapit District Officer Simon Japut Tiok, Song District Officer Galong Luang, heads of government departments and community leaders who travelled in a convoy of speed boats.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Sarawak tourism a holistic task

KUCHING: Sarawak’s approach to tourism is a calculated and holistic endeavour that is being delivered in stages to ensure that it is sustainable and on-going in the long term.

In its play, the state’s tourism chief wanted to attract Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) investors to help finance an enclave in Sarawak dedicated to everything Middle Eastern and enhance the state’s lure for Arab tourists.

Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, Minister of Tourism and Heritage Sarawak said the state must convinced Middle Eastern tourists who visited Malaysia to include Sarawak in their plans. One way would be to build them a holiday enclave that made them feel at home.

“Currently, Sarawak lacks the infrastructure to cater for Middle East tourists, who have specific needs,” Abang Johari was quoted as saying

in the upcoming edition of the Inside Sarawak 2011 investment report.

“Who better to develop this area than investors from the Middle East who know the market. If I had my way, I would bring Middle Eastern entrepreneurs to invest in Sarawak and build an enclave where every need of Gulf tourists is fulfilled.

“So, these visitors will not only enjoy doing the things they like to do during vacations but also get to see the natural beauty and environment of Sarawak,” he added.

Abang Johari said that the rainforests and Sarawak’s multicultural society and heritage would always be its strengths in terms of attracting tourists. With inside Sarawak targeting GCC investors, he said Middle Eastern visitors need more. They prefered to travel in family groups and liked to eat Middle Eastern food.

In addition, he said, tourists from the Gulf countries were not used to chilling out at a resort or hotel. They wanted to shop or visit an amusement park.

Abang Johari further said the resort province of Miri and greater Kuching area were ideal locations to build an enclave dedicated to Middle Eastern visitors.

“We are fortunate that Sarawak is big,” he said. “We can have enclaves for visitors from the Middle East, Chinese tourists and Western tourists, among others and these different market segments can interact with each other as well.”

Continue reading at: Sarawak tourism a holistic task
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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kapit comes alive with water-themed fiesta

KAPIT: Once again this sleepy town has come alive with the annual crowd-pullers – Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari, Power Boat Races, Kayak 1Malaysia races, and a mini-carnival.

The town has been beaming at its seams the past couple of days with people from nearby longhouses who were eager to witness the potpourri of colourful and exhilarating events which started last Thursday and ends today. Yesterday being a public holiday — official birthday of the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin, also gave the crowd size a shot in the arm.

The raft safari, which took place on the Baleh and Rajang Rivers, was a two-day spectacle over an arduous distance of 60km. It started on Friday with Rumah Ajai in Nanga Senuang, Sungai Majau as the starting point and Rumah Anding in Nanga Sepuna, Mujong, as the ‘transit’ point (a distance of 40km). Minister of Land Development Tan Sri Dr James Masing flagged off the race which ended at Rumah Anding for day one.

Yesterday, Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Billy Abit Joo flagged off the second day of the raft safari at Rumah Anding, which is some 20km from the finishing point at Kapit Wharf.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Datuk James Mamit will officiate at the power boat races today at the Kapit Waterfront, while the Kayak 1Malaysia event is left to Assistant Minister of Tourism and Heritage Datuk Mong Dagang.

The mini carnival, which was centred at the Town Square from last Thursday till today was officiated at by Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi. Among the highlights of the carnival were children singing competition for kids aged 12 years and below, karaoke contest, ‘live band’ presentation, safari beauty pageant, traditional sports, exhibition booths, ‘pua kumbu’ competitions, beadworks, handicrafts and sale of traditionally-baked cakes.

These annual event are jointly organised by Kapit Division Tourism Task Group , Ministry of Tourism and Heritage, Sarawak Tourism Board , Ministry of Tourism, and Malaysian Tourism and Promotion Board.

The raft safari, which was first held in 1996, has always been more than a mere test of endurance and navigational skills.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Kapit comes alive with water-themed fiesta
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Proboscis Monkeys cling to precious habitat in Brunei

Unlike in other parts of Borneo where the Proboscis monkeys
are found in sanctuaries or reserves, the colony of
Proboscis monkeys in Brunei lives relatively close to civilisation

Some groups of Proboscis monkeys live near their human neighbours

Tour operator taking visitors to the monkeys' habitat

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Mohammad Abdullah and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.



By Mohammad Abdullah

There are many species of animals found only in Borneo, and one such animal known locally as the "Burak" or "Bekantan" (Proboscis monkey) is one of the best kept secrets in Brunei Darussalam.

I once spied on a colony of Proboscis monkeys during an eco-tour in Sabah in 2002. Little did I know that we, in Brunei Darussalam, have our own colony of rare long-nosed pot-bellied celebrities which are also known as 'Orang Belanda' (Dutchman) due to their long nose and pot belly.

It was only a few years ago that Brunei ventured into eco-tourism and started tours to view these magnificent unique creatures literally in our own backyard.

Unlike in Sabah and other parts of the island of Borneo where the Proboscis monkeys are found in sanctuaries or reserves, the colony in Brunei lives relatively close to civilisation. In fact, some houses built close to the banks of mangrove swamps regularly get visits from the Dutchman. Making these endangered animals an almost permanent fixture in these residential areas, co-existing peacefully with their human neighbours.

These endangered animals are largely restricted to living in coastal areas and along rivers where they live only in lowland habitats such as coastal and riparian habitat, many of which are flooded by tides. It prefers dipterocarp forests, mangrove forests and riverine forests.

This species is rarely found more than a kilometre from water sources. It is perhaps the most aquatic of the primates and is a fairly good swimmer, capable of swimming up to 20m. It is known to swim across rivers.

Proboscis monkeys generally live in groups consisting of an adult male, some adult females and their offspring. Other groups also exist such as all-male groups. There are some individuals that are solitary, most of which are males.

The Proboscis monkey is assessed as endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and listed in Appendix I of CITIES. Its total population has decreased by more than 50 per cent in the 36-40 years to 2008 due to ongoing habitat loss and hunting in some areas.

Brunei's Proboscis monkeys are no different. Though they are not hunted, their habitat is endangered due to expanding residential areas and urban development, which threaten the mangrove forests.

Unless we do something to help preserve these animals by creating a reserve or sanctuary, then we are sure to lose one of Brunei's rare treasures.

To view these magnificent creatures, just pop down to the jetty and take one of the many tours that offer a river cruise of the Brunei River where tourists can see the Proboscis monkeys in their habitat.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Proboscis monkey survives by a nose

VISITORS to Borneo come face to face with a monkey that has to be seen to be believed.

The endangered proboscis monkey is very hard to keep in captivity, so most people have never seen one in real life - unless they have been to the island.

The big-nosed monkeys live alongside orang-utans and are facing much the same threats, such as land clearing for palm oil plantations. Tourism can also disrupt the monkeys' natural social behaviour, feeding and breeding.

Dr Heather Leasor, of the Australian National University, studied threats to the proboscis monkey population for her PhD.

"I just find them fascinating, their social interactions with each other, their odd faces, the group dynamics," she said. "They are quite charismatic. Not everybody thinks so. They think they look odd and weird. But I think they're majestic and beautiful too."

She compared her observations of monkeys in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and surrounds with those recorded by other researchers more than a decade earlier, before tourism and palm oil plantations took off.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Proboscis monkey survives by a nose

Recommended Proboscis Monkey Tours in Sabah:
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More visitors from Manila to Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: An additional flight between Manila and here resulted in an increase in the number of passengers in the first six months of this year as compared to a similar period in 2010.

The thrice weekly connection between the two destinations saw the number of passengers grow from 12,800 between January and June in 2010 to 16,200 passengers during the same period this year, an increase of 27 per cent.

According to Cebu Air Inc. corporate communication specialist Michelle Eve De Guzman, the number of passengers from Manila to Kuala Lumpur (KL) also saw an increase of 31 per cent, from 58,000 in the first six months last year to 76,000 during similar period this year.

“Realising the increase, Cebu Pacific, the largest national flag carrier in the Philippines, decided to increase its direct flights between Manila-KL to 14 flights weekly beginning January 8 next year. This means there will be two flights daily between the routes,” she said.

To date, Cebu Pacific has 10 flights between Manila-KL.

Speaking during a media briefing at the Sabah Tourism Board here yesterday, she added that there was no plan to increase flights or introduce new destinations between Manila and Sabah yet.

“However, eight representatives from top media organisations in the Philippines are currently in Sabah for the Cebu Pacific Backpackers Adventure Challenge. There are four teams, comprising two persons per team, who are going around Sabah to try to do the most activities within five days with a budget of RM1,000. The team with the most activities wins the challenge,” she said.

The participants will then write on the experience here and that it will be like a ‘blueprint’ for Filipinos who wish to spend their holidays in Sabah.

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Kapit needs more dynamic tourism products

KAPIT: Kapit needs more dynamic tourism products to attract more visitors to the town.

Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Billy Abit Joo said Kapit’s tourism industry is still in its infancy and tourists do not know where to go when they visit Kapit.

Promoting Kapit’s rich natural and cultural attractions alone, he said, did not suffice.

“Come up with tourism branded products like T-shirts, souvenirs, beadwork, handicrafts, places of attraction, etc. Small items for tourists to buy for remembrance.

“In places where tourism is well-developed and successfully run, there’s always tourism products as their trademark. Also the marketing must be strategic and packaging like websites, online information centre, availability of tour guides and services, places of interest, facilities,” he said during the soft launching of the four-day Kapit Mini Carnival yesterday.

It is being held in conjunction with the two-day Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari, which begins today.

“Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari is a very important event. It’s on the Kapit calendar to promote Kapit as a premier eco-tourism destination.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sarawak and Kalimantan urged to work together on adventure tourism

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu has suggested that Sarawak and Kalimantan collaborate in developing adventure tourism in the region.

He said the two states in Borneo had the potential to be among the most attractive destinations for adventure tourists from around the world.

Adventure tourism in Sarawak and Kalimantan could be divided into urban settings and interior rides or walks.

“The experience can be enriched if the tourists interact with local people. There are many ethnic groups in the interior of Sarawak and Kalimantan and their cultures are attractive components of adventure tourism,” he said at the launch of the Screensaver Photography: Kalimantan, Sarawak, Europe exhibition here on Tuesday night.

Jabu said the exchange of cultural troupes and expeditions between Sarawak and Kalimantan should be enhanced.

He said he had always enjoyed his participation in the exchange of cultural troupes between the two states over the years.

Travel through the interior of Sarawak and Kalimantan was an unforgettable experience of culture and nature, he added.

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Tambunan rice wine has great tourism potential

TAMBUNAN: ‘Lihing’, the KadazanDusun version of rice wine, has great tourism potential in the open market.

Tambunan lihing producer David Francis, the owner of Lihing No. 1 at the Tapai Factory Tambunan Village Resort Centre (TVRC), did not waste time to introduce the local alcoholic drink to members of the Innovation Walk delegation to the Tambunan district recently.

The delegation was led by deputy secretary general (policy and innovation), Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Dato’ Dr Sharifah Zarah Syed Ahmad during the visit and explore innovation at the factory.

“Previously and until the present day, lihing is a tonic (good health drink) to a mother who has just given birth to a new baby and those who lack blood can cook chicken with lihing to make chicken soup,” said David during his briefing to the delegation.

David said his rice wine factory has been in existence for 30 years ago, but he took over the factory about 10 years ago.

He said the ingredients for making lihing are cooked glutinous rice and yeast.

David also explained in detail the lihing-making process.

He said his factory could produce about 2,000 bottles per month with a market price of RM6.50 per bottle.

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26 teams to compete in Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari

KAPIT: A total of 26 teams will compete in the 16th annual Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari.

Organising chairman Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot said although fewer teams were competing this year, numbers would not be the only factor determining the event’s success.

“There are only 26 teams confirmed participating after the closing date, but in terms of the number of ministers visiting, VIPs and reporters attending the safari, it is a record high,” he said after the final organising committee meeting on Tuesday.

The Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari will be held tomorrow and Saturday (Sept 23-24).

The first flag off point is at Rumah Ajai, Nanga Senuang at Sungai Majau while the 24-door Rumah Anding at Nanga Sepuna, Mujong will be the transit point.

The distance from Rumah Ajai to Rumah Anding is about 40km while the journey from Rumah Anding to the finishing point at Kapit Wharf is about 20km.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

7th Borneo International Kite Festival: Foreign kite enthusiasts set to wow

BINTULU: The 7th Borneo International Kite Festival (BIKF), which will be held from Sept 22-25, will see 84 kite enthusiasts from 22 countries converging at the Bintulu Old Airport site.

BIKF, which was first held in 2005, is jointly organised by Bintulu Kite Flyers and Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) in collaboration with the Tourism and Heritage Ministry and Tourism Ministry with support from Sarawak Economic Development Corporation.

BDA, in its effort to cement its relationship with members of the public and the participants, has created a mascot aptly named ‘Sanai Vaie’.

Sanai is a Bintulu boy who loves kite flying.

He wears a green overall and a stripped green cap, representing the freshness of nature.

He sometimes carries his Sarawak flag-inspired kite to show off to his friends and family.

This year he will be the ambassador for BIKF.

Sanai Vaie will be making a few appearances in and around town and will be looking for friends to come join him at the festival this week.

The introduction of this mascot is just another step in making the BIKF well received and fresh every year.

The idea of organising BIKF was first mooted by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Bintulu was chosen as a venue after considering its great potential after the old airport was closed down, making the basic infrastructure left behind an ideal and perfect site for such an event.

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Paitan festival enriches country’s traditional culture

BELURAN: Deputy Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang has described the holding of the Taggungu Festival as an effective approach to promote the cultural heritage of the Paitan area and to attract domestic and foreign tourists.

“I believe there are traditional music and arts in this district which still remain unexposed to the outside world.

“The organising of this festival can be viewed as a platform for the Sungai Labuk tribes to promote their cultural heritage.

“By re-introducing traditional music and dances, it will help to revive our cultural heritage thereby enriching the country’s traditional culture,” Salang said when officiating the festival here yesterday.

More than 2,000 local people attended the event, including Beluran member of parliament Datuk Ronald Kiandee, Kuamut assemblyman Masiung Banah and Sugut assemblyman Datuk Surady Kayong.

Meanwhile, Salang expressed hope that heritage arts, such as carving and weaving, could be included in the festival next year since the area has the experts not only in traditional music and dance but also in the field of sculpture, weaving and other crafts.

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Sabah cultural village set to be latest attraction at KDCA compound

PENAMPANG: There is no better way to promote the rich cultural diversity in Sabah than allowing one to experience it themselves.

And with that in mind, Datuk Richard Bainon took up the challenge to redevelop the existing cultural village within the compound of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA), also known as the Hongkod Koisaan (Place of Unity).

With the addition of a suspension bridge, a handicraft centre, a landscape garden with a pond and a fully functional stage as final touches to the area, it is set to be the latest attraction complementing the 11 traditional houses at the cultural village.

Developed at a cost of nearly RM1 million, the place is run by KDCA Cultural Village Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between a private company and the association which aims to turn the Hongkod Koisaan into a one-stop tour attraction to woo guests all year long.

Dubbed the KDCA Cultural Village, Bainon, who is the venture’s chairman, said the area complements Hongkod Koisaan, which is already a magnet for revelers during the final week of the month-long Kaamatan (Harvest) Festival celebration in May.

“But it remains idle the rest of the year except for a few activities. So we thought that since Hongkod Koisaan is already a household name for cultural programmes, why not make full use of the advantage and turn it into a one-stop centre to further promote the rich cultural diversity from Sabah.

“They will stage shows with performances from the various ethnic groups in Sabah by our very own dance team. In fact, we are also encouraging locals from different ethnics and districts to come and stay at their respective ‘houses’ to promote their handicrafts. This interactive exhibition will be done inside the 11 traditional houses,” said Bainon,who is also KDCA deputy president.

At the new cafe, the public will be served with traditional delicacies.

“We want to present our food in such a way that it can be savoured and appreciated by visitors … you are bound to find hinava, bambangan and basung fish on the menu,” he said when hosting a get-together with tour agents and other tourism players recently.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

A shot of wild Borneo

THE chief's wife has been expecting me. Shaking my hand, she gestures to a vacant spot on the straw mat. I take my seat opposite two village women and wait in awkward silence as shots are poured from a bottle of rice wine. All eyes are on me. Glancing at Nam, my guide, I raise my glass and down the fiery liquid. It tastes something like petrol. Trying not to cough, I thump my chest with a closed fist as the women start to laugh. I'm already feeling slightly drunk and it's only 10am.

The day had started benignly enough. Along with two local boatmen, Nam had picked me up from my base at the Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort on the shores of the Batang Ai Lake peninsula, about 275 kilometres east of Sarawak's capital, Kuching.

We cruised for several hours upriver into the jungle before arriving here at the remote Nanga Sumpa Longhouse on the Delok River. Home to about 120 Iban people- the largest of Sarawak's 22 indigenous tribes - the longhouse is accessible only with a guide and pre-arranged permission.

With funding from a Malaysian adventure company, the locals have built a series of huts to accommodate a limited number of visitors and, with a little forward planning, guests can now stay for a few nights.

My visit is to be more fleeting and after a few more shots I'm offered a tour. Staggering behind Nam, I explore the main corridor of the longhouse where many of the single men sleep at night.

Today, most residents are away working or at school and the atmosphere is sedate. A few young children run around outside and washing hangs out to dry. Inside there are textiles, wooden carvings, masks and wicker baskets hanging from the walls, most of them for sale.

While it might be different for larger groups, it's clear that today I will be spared any tourist fanfare. There will be no staged performances or tribal dancing, and for the most part it seems tourism here has been responsibly balanced, allowing life to continue pretty much as normal.

Back at the jetty the boatmen are waiting. The younger of the two, Sudi, is plastered from head to toe in tattoos typical of the Iban.

In days gone by, tattoos represented significant events, including the number of heads taken by a warrior. These days headhunting has been replaced by "berjelai" or journey, where young men leave the tribe to seek success in the modern world, often returning home with practical items such as generators or TV sets.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: A shot of wild Borneo
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Everest conquerer to climb Mount Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: A well-known Japanese international mountain guide arrived in Kota Kinabalu yesterday with a Japanese film crew to shoot his ascend up Mount Kinabalu.

Atsushi Yamada, who succeeded in climbing all the highest summits of the seven continents, including Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Everest, was known as the world’s youngest “Seven Summitter” in 2002.

The Japanese TV programme will feature him revealing the attractiveness of Mount Kinabalu, seen from the eyes of this specialist.

Atsushi said during an interview upon his arrival at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport that his objective of climbing the mountains was a personal challenge as when he was young, he had asthma and this was challenge to overcome his sickness.

This is his third time climbing Mount Kinabalu and he said the difference between Mount Kinabalu and all the mountains he had climbed was the nature with the abundance of plant life and different forest types.

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Next year’s Sarawak Regatta to see international participation

KUCHING: Tourism and Heritage Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg revealed that Sarawak Regatta 2012 would again see international participation.

The chairman of Permanent Organising Committee Sarawak Regatta pointed out that Sarawakians could expect an internationally-recognised side event next year though he did not go into details.

Describing this year’s event as different, he said the Sarawak Wakeboard World Cup (WWC) 2011 had heightened the profile on the Sarawak Regatta.

“We have included WWC this year and it has recorded improvement to our regatta, a cultural event to unite the people of Sarawak and motivate them to work as a team.

“With the event extended to include WWC, it also represents part of our efforts to promote tourism attractions in Sarawak,” he told a news conference after Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud launched Sarawak Regatta 2011 and International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) Wakeboard World Cup 2011 at Kuching Waterfront here yesterday.

Abang Johari, who is Housing and Urban Development Minister, felt that the state could organise more water-related events following the success of this year’s WWC held in conjunction with regatta.

He believed that hosting international games would help the state draw in draw more foreigners.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

The awe of the Borneo jungle

The very mention of Borneo is enough to conjure vivid images of dense jungle inhabited by strange, hairy creatures, a land penetrated only by brave, machete-wielding explorers fending off menacing headhunters, blow darts and pirates.

Modern, internet-connected Borneo may have lost some of its wild and untamed characteristics but it's still one of the most dramatic and exciting destinations left on our shrinking planet.

Today we travel in four-stroke outboard-powered Zodiacs, putt-putting quietly along the mangrove-lined Kinabatangan River in the eastern Borneo state of Sabah, comical hornbills swooping overhead while boisterous macaque monkeys play tag among the palm fronds.

Chris, our naturalist guide from Orion Expedition Cruises, points out a rhinoceros hornbill just above the fork in a nearby tree.

Armed with powerful field glasses, large telephoto lenses and packing gigabytes of storage, we stalk these exotic species, ticking them off one-by-one as we progress silently within arm's reach of the mangrove-lined banks.

Tales of the wild lands, animals and people of Borneo first reached Europeans in 1522, when the straggling survivors of Magellan's fleet limped back to Spain. Indian, Javanese and Chinese traders, however, had been visiting for centuries prior in search of timber, ivory, gold and spices. Later, the Dutch and British colonial powers held sway, while the local sultans played their own power games. The 20th century was a dramatic chapter with a firm British grip until the Japanese took control briefly during WWII before liberation by Australian troops in 1945.

Sabah, on the farthest north-eastern tip, is now part of independent Malaysia and a source of much of the world's palm oil, a crop that is, unfortunately, replacing the coastal and riparian (riverside) forests vital to many endangered species of birds and mammals. Driven by this urgency, eco-tourism is the new growth industry of Borneo, often colliding with the more established forestry and palm plantations.

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English soldier takes on Borneo trek in memory of POWs

BOMBARDIER Michael Fitzgibbon has made history by trekking 164 miles through the Borneo jungle in memory of prisoners of war who died in one of history’s worst atrocities.

The Middlesbrough-born soldier, of the Royal Artillery, retraced the steps of thousands of prisoners of war (POWs) who lost their lives during the Second World War’s Ranau death marches.

The 26-year-old was part of the first post-war group to follow the route British and Australian POWs were forced to take by their Japanese captors from Sandakan to Ranau in Sabah in 1945.

Of the 2,432 prisoners, only six Australians survived by escaping and all 641 British POWs died, either on the death marches or by execution. More than 400 of these British soldiers were members of the Royal Artillery and its attached arms and services.

The former pupil at St David’s School, in Middlesbrough, who joined the Army straight from school, called the challenge a “once in a lifetime experience”.

He said: “Being Commando- trained I like to think I am always at a decent level of fitness, but I did a little bit more endurance training to build up.

“Humidity was a challenge as it was a different environment. I have been to the jungle before but this was a different type of jungle so there was a lot unknown and it was a case of suck it and see.”

Michael and his 14-strong team took part in a ceremony to dedicate a Royal Artillery memorial in the English Garden of the War Memorial Gardens in Kundasang, Sabah - 66 years after the final POWs were executed at Ranau.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Chronology of Sarawak throughout the Brooke Era to Malaysia Day

1835 Beginning of the Sarawak Rebellion (against the Sultan of Brunei) led by Sarawak chief Datu Patinggi Ali.

1839 James Brooke arrives in Kuching on the Royalist carrying a message of thanks and presents from the Governor of Singapore to Rajah Muda Hassim in Sarawak.

He returns later and at the request of the Rajah Muda Hassim, the Sultan of Brunei, suppresses the rebellion.

Sept 21 1841 Brooke made rajah and governor of Sarawak after Rajah Muda Hassim dismisses Makota.

1845 The battle of Marudu Bay sees Brooke enlisting the help of the British Royal Navy in Singapore to defeat Sherif Osman, a famous pirate leader from North Borneo, effectively ending his piracy.

1846 Sultan of Brunei unhappy with the English and Brooke.

His fi rst move against Brooke is to order the killing of Englishmen and everybody in Brunei close to him, which includes Rajah Muda Hassim, his brother Badruddin and other leaders in Brunei.

Brooke attacks Brunei in retaliation. Assisted by the British navy, they capture the city.

The Sultan is allowed to return to his palace after surrendering.

In addition he gives Sarawak completely to Brooke and his heirs forever without payment of any more money.

In memory of Rajah Muda Hassim and Badruddin, he gives two streets in Kuching their names: Jalan Muda Hassim and Badruddin Road. Later, two of his nephews, James and Charles Johnson come to Sarawak to help him.

James is given the title Tuan Besar and later, Rajah Muda.

Charles Johnson is called the Tuan Muda and changes his name to Charles Brooke later when he becomes the second rajah of Sarawak.

1849 The Battle of Beting Maru sees Brooke defeating Iban pirate chief named Linggir.

He is helped by Captain Farquhar, his ships of the Royal Navy and by Malay and Dayak in prahus.

Altogether there are about 75 boats and 3,500 men on Brooke’s side.

After a hard fight for several hours in the darkness, many pirate ships are sunk and hundreds of pirates killed or captured.

Brooke builds forts at Lingga and the mouth of the Skrang River on Batang Lupar to prevent more attacks.

1850 The US recognises Sarawak.

1852 Sarawak’s territory expands.

1853 Sarawak extended to the Krian River.

1855 Brooke starts the Supreme Council made up of a small group of important officers in Sarawak to help him govern the country.

1857 Kuching sacked by Chinese rebels.

Six hundred Chinese miners from Bau sail down the Sarawak river at night to attack the Astana, the government buildings and the fort. Much of Kuching is razed to the ground except for the Chinese areas.

Brooke retaliates by enlisting the help of loyal Malays.

Charles sails quickly from Lingga with Iban soldiers.

The rebels retreat up river and are chased to Bau and to the Dutch Borneo border where they try to escape to Sambas and Pontianak.

As many as 1,000 Chinese rebels and their families are killed.

1861 After their defeat at sea, pirates move farther inland to continue attacking villages and capturing heads.

The chief leader is an Iban named Libau, better known as Rentap.

From his Bukit Sadok fort, he leads his men to attack villages or the Rajah’s forts along the Batang Lupar.

After two unsuccessful counter-attacks, Charles becomes more determined to capture Rentap’s fort at Bukit Sadok.

He builds a twelve-pounder cannon in Kuching which takes 500 of his men to pull through the jungle to Bukit Sadok. Once there, 60 of his strongest men lift the cannon on poles and carry it to the top of Bukit Sadok 3,000 feet high.

The cannon fi re penetrates Rentap’s sturdy fort made of thick belian wood.

They discover, however, that the pirate leader has run off into the jungle and burn his fort.

Rentap is never to be heard of again.

1861 Sarawak is extended to Kidurong Point.

An offer by King Leopold I. of Belgium to purchase Sarawak is not successful.

1862 The Sarawak regiment.

Is created.

1863 Sarawak Dollar introduced.

1864 Britain recognises Sarawak as an independent principality.

1865 Charles forms the Council Negri which include people in the Supreme Council, other officers of the rajah’s government and the most important native chiefs.

1867 Council Negri holds its first meeting in Sibu.

1868 James Brooke is succeeded by his nephew Charles.

Brooke returns to England due to ill health and dies there.

1869 Sarawak begins issuing postage stamps.

1870 Sarawak Gazette begins publication.

1872 The name of the town of ‘Sarawak’ is changed to Kuching where it reportedly gets its name from a small brook which ran into the Sarawak River near the present Chinese Chamber of Commerce Building at the end of Main Bazaar.

1883 Sarawak extended to Baram River.

1884 Great fi re of Kuching. 1885 Acquisition of the Limbang area, from Brunei.

1888 Sarawak declared a British protectorate.

1890 Limbang added to Sarawak.

1891 Opening of the Sarawak Museum.

The border between Sarawak and Dutch Borneo is decided at a meeting between Great Britain and the Netherlands (Holland) whereupon it is decided that the border would follow as closely as possible the line of the highest mountains between Sarawak and Dutch Borneo.

1901 Sarawak’s population is 320,000 1903. Oil discovered in Sarawak.

1905 Acquisition of the Lawas Region, from Brunei.

Sarawak spans 47,000 square miles.

1912 Brooke Dry Dock opened. 1915 First railway line in Sarawak opened.

1915 Committee of Administration, seated in Kuching, established.

A 10-mile railway going south from Kuching fi rst used.

1917 Charles Vyner Brooke succeeds his father Charles as Rajah.

1924 Sarawak Penal Code introduced.

1925 Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China builds its first offi ce in Kuching to take care of the payment for Sarawak;s increasing business with other countries. 1931 Penghulu Asun leads a small rebellion among the Ibans against the government in the headwaters of the Kanowit, Entabai and Julau Rivers.

Vyner Brooke sends a police expedition up the Kanowit River and captures Asun and most of the other leaders.

Fort Brooke is built at Nanga Meluan on the Kanowit River.

Asun dies of old age in 1958. 1938 Kuching airport opened.

1941 Written constitution granted.

1941 Sarawak has a population of 490,000.

Dec 161941 Japanese occupy Miri.

Dec 19 1941 Japanese bomb Kuching.

Dec 24 1941 Japanese attack and capture Kuching.

1942-1945 Japanese occupation.

August 14 1945 Japanese surrender.

Sept 11 1945 Australian forces liberate Sarawak.

1945-1946 Sarawak is put under Australia’s military administration.

May 1946 Council Negri meets to talk about cession to British government.

They agree that Sarawak should become a colony by a vote of 19 to 16.

July 1 1946 Government passes a law that accepts Sarawak as a British Crown Colony.

1946 Sarawak becomes British crown colony.

1949 Governor Duncan Stewart is assassinated.

1957 Sarawak gets a new constitution which changes the size and powers of the Council Negri.

Council Negri is increased to 45 members.

1959 First general election held in Sarawak.

1961 May 27 Tunku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, at a Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Southeast Asia press conference in Singapore, says the Federation of Malaya should have a close understanding with Britain and the people of Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah.

June 20 Sir Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister, in a reply to a question in Parliament, says he is interested in the suggestion made by Tunku.

June 26 British offi cers from Singapore, Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah, consisting of governors, hold a meeting in Singapore until June 27.

July 1 Tunku Abdul Rahman accompanies the Yang Di- Pertuan Agong of Malaya to offi cially visit Brunei and Sarawak. July 9 Azahari (Partai Rakyat Brunei), Ong Kee Hui (Sarawak United People’s Party) and Donald Stephens (Sabah) establish the United Front and disagrees with the proposal by Tunku Abdul Rahman and Britain.

July 12 Tunku Abdul Rahman exposes communist threats in South East Asia as an important factor in his proposal.

July 22 Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore chief minister, proposes that representatives from Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah present their views at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) on the Malaysia proposal.

July 28 Establishment of the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee (MSCC) in Singapore during the CPA Conference.

August 12 First visit of leaders from Sarawak and Sabah – Datu Bandar Abang Mustapa, Temenggong Jugah, Donald Stephens and Dato Mustapha – to Malaya to see the progress for themselves.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Chronology of Sarawak throughout the Brooke Era to Malaysia Day
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Sarawak proposes tourism packages with Brunei

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Sarawak has much to gain by collaborating with Brunei to develop common tourism packages.

This is because besides having it own places of attraction, the sultanate has a wider reach to world markets due to its well-developed air connectivity and potential to be an international destination hub.

And with Sarawak’s and Sabah’s natural attractions, the region can be an attractive destination for water sports, cultural festivals and eco-tourism, said Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan.

“We have the Brunei Bay, connecting some parts of Limbang and Lawas.

“If we have water sports and plan it properly, it can be an interesting project,” he said in Gadong, Brunei before leading a Sarawak delegation to extend an official invitation to His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah to grace the historical 104-year old Baram Regatta in Marudi on Sept 30 to Oct 2 this year.

He believed that such collaboration would also bring people from the three regions closer together.

The delegation included High Commissioner of Malaysia to Brunei Datuk Abdullah Sani Omar, Assistant Minister of Land Development who is Baram Regatta 2011 organising chairman Sylvester Entri and State Legislative Assembly Speaker Dato Sri Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

WWF presents ‘Forest and Me’

KUCHING: World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) has produced a short video titled ‘Forest and Me’ which presents Malaysians’ opinions of forests.

The effort came to light when WWF offices worldwide convened conversations and rallied governments and businesses to pledge action for healthy living forests.

Year 2011 has been declared International Year of Forest (IYoF) by the United Nations to raise awareness on conservation, sustainable development and management of all types of forests.

In recognition of the IYoF 2011, WWF International’s Forest Programme has embarked on a Living Forests campaign to bring a wide range of stakeholders together to find solutions for the many drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, and contribute to WWF’s goal of Zero Net Deforestation and Forest Degradation (ZNDD) by 2020.

The video by WWF-Malaysia comprises ‘street interviews’ of people living in two urban centres in Malaysia namely Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.

The video aims to raise awareness of how a forest is defined by showcasing individual perceptions of forests, its importance and what they expect it to be in the future.

Many of those interviewed were pessimistic about the future of our forests. This perception may have been influenced by the decline in size of forested areas in Malaysia.

Continue reading at: WWF presents ‘Forest and Me’
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chinese sacred cultural torch reaches summit of Mount Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: The sacred torch of the 28th National Chinese Cultural Festival 2011 successfully reached the peak of South East Asia’s highest mountain, Mount Kinabalu, on Monday which coincidentally was the mid-Autumn festival.

Organising chairperson of the National Cultural Festival, Datuk Susan Wong Siew Guen who brought the sacred torch up to the peak together with youth members of the host, The Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS), said:

“It was the most prestigious moment when we reached the top of Mount Kinabalu and I am so excited and delighted that we have successfully brought the sacred torch to the peak.”

This reflected the words of Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun during the Ranau Torch Run on September 10 that legend has it that a representative of the then Emperor of China actually went up the mountain to find a diamond said to be kept in the mouth of a dragon on the peak, and this belief has since become part of Chinese culture.

With the Chinese culture torch reaching the peak of Mount Kinabalu, it was indeed a glory for the Chinese community in Sabah and this has set a new historical record.

Masidi said these when presenting the torch to Susan and her team members after lighting the cauldron at the Pai Wen Primary School compound in Ranau.

The Ranau Torch Run, which was the sixth in the series of runs across the state, started at the school compound and then around Ranau town on September 10. The run was to promote Chinese culture to the people and to bring to them an awareness of this heritage cultural festival.

More than 300 participants consisting of students and the community took part in the run which was jointly organised by the Ranau Hakka Association headed by Datuk Jimmy Tham Yuk Leong, the Ranau Hokkien Association led by Tee Geok Moi and Ranau Sino-Native Association headed by Alldem Chia.

Susan in her speech after the run said she was very grateful to Masidi for giving his fullest support and participation in the run.

“We are very honoured to have the minister light the cauldron at the finishing point and this is symbolic of his close rapport with the people under the 1Malaysia concept,” she said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Chinese sacred cultural torch reaches summit of Mount Kinabalu
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Sibu needs to develop eco-tourism to attract tourists

SIBU: Tour operators here have been urged to design exciting inbound tour packages in order to tap into the vast eco-tourism potential of Sibu and its hinterlands.

Sibu divisional tourism task group (STTG) chairman Sim Kok Kee said this would provide the niche factor to entice tourists, making up for its lack of places of interest.

“Thus far, there is only one tour operator who is actively providing inbound tour packages. We hope other operators will jump onto the band wagon to creatively come up with inbound tour packages,” Sim told The Borneo Post.

He believes that eco-tourism will appeal to a particular segment of tourists who have no qualms about spending money just to experience the attractions.

At a ‘Majlis Ramah Tamah Aidilfitri’ held here last Monday, Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said eco-tourism was poised to become the most important economic sector for the state to generate wealth.

Taib said this was because it would open up the interiors such as Belaga and Ulu Baram to the outside world, and showcase the state’s rich natural heritage and cultures.

Citing bird-watching, Sim, who is also Sibu Resident, said: “There are tourists who would love to spend hours watching a particular species of birds while enjoying the panoramic view of nature.”

To this, he hoped that Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) would help to identify possible sites for the unique activity, adding that he had heard positive comments from some animal lovers that they sighted rare species of birds at Bukit Lima Nature Park.

Echoing Sim’s view, Sarawak Central Region Hoteliers Association chairman Johnny Wong Sie Lee recalled that some years ago a group of Japanese scholars visited Kanowit just to view the mystical pitcher plants there.

Wong, who used to operate inbound tours, believes that it is vital that Sibu come up with eco-tourism products to attract tourists.

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Free talk on Sarawak’s pitcher plants Sept 30

KUCHING: Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) will be organising a talk on pitcher plants entitled ‘Nepenthes of Sarawak’ on Sept 30.

The talk will be held at SBC’s lecture theatre, KM20, Jalan Borneo Heights, Semengoh, Kuching by Ch’ien C. Lee, a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz who has spent over 17 years studying pitcher plants.

Ch’ien is also a known wildlife photographer who believes that photography is an excellent method for conveying ideas andsharing experiences. Ch’ien has co-authored and contributed to several books including ‘A Pocket Guide to Pitcher Plants of Sarawak’ and ‘Pitcher Plants of Borneo (2nd edition)’.

He has also published works on several new species of Nepenthes, their biodiversity, ecological relationships, conservation and artificial propagation.

Ch’ien’s talk will focus on the diversity of pitcher plants or Nepenthes found in Sarawak and feature his beautiful photography of these interesting carnivorous plants.

To date, 25 species of Nepenthes have been described in Sarawak, of which seven are endemic to the state. In recent years, four new species have been described from collections made in the highlands of central and northern Sarawak.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Organising ‘balik kampung’ for displaced orang utans

DURING a media luncheon in Putrajaya yesterday, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok had said in jest that Malaysia was toying with the idea of taking all the orang utans from the zoos of cold-climate Western countries “balik kampung” in the spirit of Hari Raya.

However, he admitted that currently there was still no effective platform for Malaysia to undertake such an initiative.

Balik Kampung in Malay means to return to the place of origin. In this case, Malaysia is considering to release the zoo-captivated orang utans back to its natural habitats in the island of Borneo.

This perhaps is one way to counter the constant attacks from Western NGOs to prove to them that Malaysia is a responsible palm oil producer.

In Sabah, for example, there exists a 47-year old Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary covering 4,300ha of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, which was initially set up to rehabilitate orphaned baby orang utans.

In addition, Malaysia via the support of local palm oil industry and Sabah state is currently pursuing a mega wildlife sanctuary involving 100,000ha of rainforest in an area of 300,000ha of contiguous forest zones in Sabah.

Malaysian Palm Oil Council chief executive officer Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron had said the proposed wildlife sanctuary would have 100,000ha of nucleus with rehabilitation and release function for orang utan and other wildlife.

This (the size of the wildlife sanctuary) is over three times the size of Singapore. “There are 4 million people in Singapore but only 11,000 orang utans in Sabah.

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Sarawak ready to host second Borneo International Beads Conference

KUCHING: Sarawak is all set to host the second Borneo International Beads Conference (BIBCo) at the Grand Margherita Hotel from Oct 7 to 9.

Bead enthusiasts from many parts of Malaysia will join their friends from Australia, the USA, Indonesia, India, South Africa, Canada, Singapore, Benin, Nigeria, Egypt and other foreign lands for an unforgettable weekend in Kuching.

The conference will take the format of research papers presented in six sessions.

One of the paper will cover Beads of Antiquity which explore the beads found in archaeological sites in Peninsular Malaysia and Northeast India.

The session on Bead Lore from Sarawak will zoom in on the bead traditions and customs of the Melanau and Orang Ulu people.

Another paper on Beads of Southeast Asia will look at Sarawak beads and the attractive beaded wedding baskets of Southwest Sumatra.

Two papers will address the practical concerns of modern bead workers who produce their artworks for sale in which the case studies will draw materials from Canada and South Africa.

Bead-makers and bead-users in Australia and Southeast Asia will examine the value beads of Sarawak and the ritual beads of Sabah’s Lotud people in one of the sessions.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Corridor of hope for Borneo elephants at Sukau

KOTA KINABALU: A re-established forest corridor measuring 1km by 50m at Bukit Melapi at Sukau in the east coast Kinabatangan district will offer hope for the area's Borneo elephants.

The move became a reality recently with the support of two companies Syarikat Yu Kwang Development Sdn Bhd and Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi.

The re-establishment of the corridor will allow for the smooth movement of around 200 elephants through Lots 1, 3 and 4 of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

The corridor is part of the animals' ancestral migration route which has been disrupted in recent years due to deforestation, said Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) director Dr Laurentius Ambu.

He also commended the two companies for their contributions to elephant conservation at the Lower Kinabatangan.

The efforts, aimed at addressing the impact of large-scale oil palm plantation development and logging practices to wildlife species particularly the orang utan and the Borneo elephants was coordinated by the Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) and SWD.

BCT conservation and research division head Raymond Alfred said habitat fragmentation was the main threat to elephant conservation in Sabah.

He said linking habitats via forest corridors would prevent the fragmentation and isolation of the elephant population.

“Population isolation makes the species more prone to genetic drift and inbreeding. It also increases the threat of human-elephant conflict within the area,” he said.

Another species facing decline at the Lower Kinabatangan is the orang utan due to the conversion of degraded forests into large-scale plantations.

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