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Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013


Finding a Spouse... Then and Now

Monday, September 16, 2013

E6 Monday, September 16, 2013

50th glimpse A bittersweet e Down Memory Lane


into the past


gem when he agreed Joseph Kuek was a true took during the to share these pictures he era bygone By Antonia Chiam the member Rex, Capitol, Odeon and would never happened anymore. highlighting 1950s and 1960s, Cathay: none of them are around “How wonderful if people could of Sarawak. tripand downlifestyles memory lane now except for Rex, which used to protect and maintain the sim-


Lintang A team of paddlers from Batu Regatta in Training College during the 1963.

values and goals that could ensure happiness for every individual, instead of just being too result-oriented and knowledge-based,” he pointed out. In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Sarawak independence, James wished that all Sarawakians will continue to live in peace and harmony for many generations to come.

often reminds us of what be where Star Cineplex is today. ple values that made our lives so we’re lost over the years as “There were no shopping malls. secure. I really miss that kind of we grow out of our childhood and The only nice place to shop was environment and I believe most into the hectic adult world that last Electra House and there was only people my age or older do feel this. the rest of our lives. one supermarket, which was Ting The old values are greatly lacking Some memories fade, while & Ting’s. now. some remain but they are not just “Occasionally my family and “Obvious changes came in terms Air part of who we are but also make I would go to the countryside by of population and development. Farmer’s Market at the Open Bazaar. up the bits and pieces of our soci- bus to shop for fresh produce as The most important concerns are ety today. well as for sightseeing,” he said those relating to educaFor 60-year-old James, an op- with a smile. tion, health and security, portunity to catch a glimpse into Although he was a child grow- which affects everyone. the past through this special inter- ing up in colonial Kuching, James “Just by reading the view reminded him keenly of what could not remember the political news and hearing stories we no longer fully enjoy now. developments that led to the for- or experiences of others, “We have lost that sense of com- mation of Malaysia in those days. we know crimes are on plete physical security. I remem“I was too young, barely 12 yet. the rise. People are more ber that back in those days, we did I can only vaguely remember that insecure and dissatisfied not have to lock our doors or gates time when the last British Gov- with their social environwhen we were at home or even ernor of Sarawak (Sir Alexan- ment. when we were out to a neighbour’s der jetty Waddell) was going to leave “Development and on People on the old concrete house. Kuching for good. There was a big progress, no matter how the Sarawak River during Queen “Nobody had Elizabeth’s to worry coronation, about send-off at the Sarawak River. beneficial they are to our 1953. DASHING YOUTH: James in his youthful days. strangers or burglaries in the “A lot of fanfare was going on, society, cannot replace neighbourhood as everybody. with the police band playing and those old simple values “Children were allowed to play people in a celebratory mood. I of life. Development and outside and parents didn’t have to don’t think I knew what was going progress are a means to worry about their safety,” he re- on at that time,” he said. an end, not the end itself. Mukah. dry, to fish out laying girl A called. That fateful day was Sept 15, If we get them mixed up, James spent his early childhood 1963, a day before the formation we will become confused, years in Main Bazaar before the of Malaysia was official. distrustful and disrespectfamily moved to Green Road in Now 50 years on, James could ful of one another. the 1960s. not help but arrive at the conclu“I do hope that someday “Green Road area was then the sion that the 60s, 70s and early our education system will nearest housing estate to town. It 80s were wonderful years gone by be enhanced to focus more wasn’t as ‘ulu’ as areas like Batu and the great sense of community on inculcating humanistic Kawa and it was also the newest CAREFREE DAYS: James as a primary school pupil in 1966 at the suburban area at that time. playground of Garland School, Batu Kawa Road. by Malayan When Kuching was served “The neighbourly bond while Airways, 1952. living in a housing estate was strong too. People were helpful and they Trade at Gambier street. took the initiative to get to know one another,” said the owner of a car accessories shop, who attended primary school at St Thomas at the School and received his secondary Unveiling the dragon heads schooling at Li Tah High School, Regatta. which is now Basaga Holiday Residences on Tabuan Road. James noted that his childhood was best remembered as simple and secure with a strong sense of kinship among the community he lived in. “I remembered fishing, climbing trees, playing marbles and hopscotch as some of my favourite pastime activities with other children in the neighbourhood. It was a time of friendship and a time when people valued simplicity in life. “At home, we spent our leisure time listening to the radio. Sometimes we would go to the cinemas, YOUNG: James as a young child in the late 50s with his older brother near Kuching High School. usually once or twice a week. I re- HAPPY FAMILY: James with his wife and three children in a recent family photo. Royal Marine Air Force to support

A simpler life By Chen Ai Shih

At that time, nature was their closest and best friend. As long oday’s children are over- as they were hardworking, they whelmed by advancement could have food in abundance. in electronic gadgets but His parents were farmers, and during the 1940s, children did he was one of nine children. They not even have a TV at home to were not rich but moderately watch. well-off. They lived a simple and “Those days, we spent our peaceful life by growing vegetachildhood running in the wild. My bles and selling rubber and pepbest activity was to row a sampan per. with my younger brother to catch “My parents went to tap rubfish and crabs in Rajang River,” ber very early, about 4am, with 1952. lamps. Then the elder recalled Mok Sem Fua. kerosene Going to Bau by ferry, The 74-year-old said that they children would help collect the were outdoorsy, unlike today’s latex,” he said. children where most of them He said he and his siblings also stay indoors and play games on helped in the farm to harvest peptheir computers, PSP, and smart- per, vegetables and weeding after phones. school. Mok, a Cantonese, was born in He said he was lucky to have the 1939 in Sungai Pak, Sibu, a small chance to study until Form Three village near the Rajang River. during the British colonial era beHis grandfather came from the cause people during that time had Guangdong province in China. less chance to study. “We used a net to catch fish He said they could choose to and crabs. We caught something have either an English or Chinese everytime. A good catch came up education. to more than 10 fish, up to two He chose Chinese and comkilogram (kg) while we caught up pleted his Form Three at a to two kg of crabs. We couldn’t school in Sibu, today’s SMK finish them and we sold them to Tung Hua. other villagers,” he said. He entered primary


school when he was already more than 10 years old. He said it was not compulsory for children at the time to enter school at a fixed age like now. The school had only one teacher and all students gathered together at a place to study. They were divided into morning and afternoon sessions because there were not enough seats.


ema he was in secondary school at the time. “In our village, we slept at 8pm when the day turned dark. No night life or even entertainment, no light, except people’s wedding or festive celebrations,” he said. He said they made kuih with tapioca and ate rice cooked with sweet potatoes their parents planted. Banana and papaya were the most common fruits in their village. “We never k n e w

there were fruits like apple and grapes, seriously. We never drank coffee at home, only when we went to town to sell things and sat in the coffee shop. “We had nothing to buy in the village. We bought big cans of biscuits, meat, bread and tea leaves from town whenever we went to sell things. We exchanged the ‘Atap salt’ and sugar we bought from town with the Dayak villagers for paddy,” he said. He said the villagers travelled to Sibu town by boat. They did not even need a bicycle because there were no roads. After Form Three, he later went for tailoring lessons in Sibu and helped at his friend’s tailor shop in Pakan, where he met his wife. They moved back to Sungai Pak village and earned their livings by tapping rubber. Then, they moved to Dalat and opened a tailor shop. “Due to the stiff competition, our friend told us to open a shop in Sebuyau as there was none there. For 30 over years, life there was good until fire razed our wooden shop to the ground last year,” he said.

He said in the olden days, fish and vegetables were fresh and cheap. “Last time in Sebuyau, a kati of fish was only 80 cents. Now it goes up to RM18 and sometimes over RM20. What an increase! Life in the village was low cost and simple. Now living in town, the expenses have gone up,” he said. Over the last few years, he observed that things had changed a lot, but he hoped the multi-racial cotton harmony would Boy remain. carrying washed and dried Mukah. “This is a good place. The peonets, fishing ple are simple and friendly regardless of their different religions and culture. I hope we can continue to live in peace and harmony,” he said. What he worried about was the increase of crime rates and murder cases. “It’s better here than Peninsular Malaysia but I hope something could be done to reduce the crime rate. “Nobody can predict the future. But I hope our country remains peaceful. Hopefully, the government will fulfill their promises too,” he said.

The old Kuching riverfront, Teochew opera at Lilian Theatre back of Han Yeang Street.

By Joanna Yap

The the Gurkha battalion, 1965.

The Tua Pek Kong Temple,

at the

CREDITS Editors Phyllis Wong Francis Chan Margaret Apau

Writers Sarawak Antonia Chiam Cecilia Sman Chen Ai Shih Churchill Edward Desmond Puji Eikman Teo Georgette Tan Geryl Ogilvy Ruekeith James Ling Jennifer Laeng Joanna Yap Jonathan Chia Kenny Ee Lian Cheng Matthew T Umpang Peter Boon Philip Wong Ramli Ahmad Fauzi Raymond Tan Ronnie Teo Wilfred Pilo Yunos Yussof

Sabah Amy Dangin Anna Vivienne Christy Chok Elton Gomes Jenne Lajiun Johan Aziz Natasha Sim

Graphic Designers Noriezam Drahman Zairizi Mohamad Izzudin Ajibah Abol Leonard Michael Merni Nicholas D C Ho Nurhazwan Afiq

With special thanks to Joseph Kuek for sharing his photographs on pages 4 and 5 of this supplement and Richard Nelson Sokial, President of Heritage Sabah, for his article and photos.



t’s a story that had uncertain beginnings, but thankfully, a happy ending. About 80 years ago, a beautiful maiden in Kuching embarked on a life-changing trip to meet her husband-to-be. She was one of three daughters of an Anglican reverend while he was the dashing son of a Chinese merchant with family roots in Indonesia. Keeping with the traditions of her nyonya culture, the young maiden - dressed in her finest and accompanied by close relatives got into one of two motorcars and set out for her future husband’s family home. The trip would have been quite bumpy despite the luxury of traveling in a motorcar as the road from Kuching to Batu Kitang was mostly unsurfaced. Someone, perhaps a hired photographer or a family member, took photos to document the special occasion, including one of the entourage crossing the Batu Kitang river on a floating barge. In that photo, boatmen can be seen using long poles and ropes to push and pull the barge and its precious load steadily across the relatively calm surface of the sandy-bottomed river. At a time when owning a motorcar was a privilege reserved for the wealthy and well-connected, the entourage travelled in two large, black cars polished until they shone. Incredibly, that photo and a handful of others managed to survive the march of the decades and today, copies of these photos occupy places of pride in the house of the couple’s youngest son, James Ong Boon Kheng, 67. James, the fourth child in a family of six siblings, first came to know of the photos from his cousin who discovered the original photos while browsing through the latter’s parents’ possessions. James’ father was Ong Guan Tee, a man-about-town who loved racing horses and the son of a welloff family of Chinese merchants and until his marriage at the age of 33, was probably considered one of the most eligible bachelors around. Guan Tee’s bride was Lim Kim Lui, the 17-year-old daughter of Lim Yong Chua, an Anglican reverend from Penang who brought his young family with him when he came to minister in Kuching. James also learnt through his cousin that his parents met while his father was a boarder at St Thomas Secondary School, and his mother was living with her parents and siblings nearby in the priest’s house. Although other details surrounding the courtship and marriage of his parents have been lost in the folds of time, James suspects that his maternal grandmother played a key role in entwining his parents’ lives together. The 1930s was a time when the matrimonial destinies of single men and women within the ethnic Chinese community were largely left to their respective parents’ discretion and the efforts of family-sanctioned matchmakers. By comparison, James was given much more leeway by his parents when it came to finding his life partner, which he did so thanks to a fortuitous encounter with Lina, the colleague of James’ friend who had organised an outing to Sematan. “After the trip, I did some follow-up. First I gave her a phone call and we talked. We got to know each other better before I asked her out on a date,” recalled James with a smile, adding that they finally got married on Sept 9, 1978. The couple have two children, Kirsten and Jason. Unlike his parents’ situation, James had to go pick up his bride at her house in the British-made car which he and his brother had carefully decorated with paper and ribbon streamers. “The distance was much shorter

A SNAPSHOT OF LOVE: James looking at a photo of his parents taken during their wedding reception sometime in the 1930s.

compared to the one my mother had to take, and the roads were smoother, considering that this was during the 1970s,” he recalled. His parents were not as stringent with following traditional wedding customs, although certain practices such as having a close family member act as a go-between to negotiate the marriage terms and a small dowry was continued, but mostly for symbolic purposes. It was the same when James and Lina’s daughter Kirsten married Winston, their son-in-law. James said that he and his wife left it up to Kirsten to choose who she wanted as a life partner. “My daughter and son-in-law had quite a modern wedding. Of course, certain things like the families meeting to discuss wedding arrangements and logistics were still done. “But we didn’t follow a lot of traditional customs because our family is Christian. In a way, it means we’ve also forgotten a lot of the cultural meanings and practices which my parents knew,” James shared. However, despite the eight decades separating the three generations of Ongs and the different experiences they had finding their spouses, one thing appears to stay true – happy marriages can happen through the most unexpected of ways with or without the benefit of matchmakers.

TRADITIONS AND FAMILY: One of the wedding day photos found by James’ cousin shows the former’s parents seated in the center surrounded by members of the groom’s family, including Guan Tee’s father Ong Seng Chai. In the background is the groom’s large Siniawan family home large enough to house five families. The house still exists today.

JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME: During the 1930s, getting to the groom’s house in Siniawan would not have been easy, requiring hours of travel over unsurfaced roads and crossing the Batu Kitang River by barge.

Monday, September 16, 2013


The Way We Were

SIGN OF THE TIMES: The first post-Merdeka house owned by Kinun.

For some people, the past seemed simpler, innocent and carefree. For others, however, life in the rural areas was anything but a bed of roses. By Anna Vivienne

who usually plied their wares in the tamu. inun Gunida was born in The bride wore a Sunduk, a wo1933, in Kg Piasau, Kota ven veil, and the groom his Sigar Belud, where she grew up headgear. They were watched by in a typical Dusun Tindal village. guests and toasted with the traAs a young child, she observed ditional brew, bahar and tapai her parents clearing the land and (rice wine), while an elder chantthen readying it for paddy plant- ed incantations for their future ing. She watched them plough, well-being. plant and then weed the fields. “In those days, we did “As I grew older, I too went to not have any plates or cuthelp them as it was expected of me. lery, but we, the newlyI helped my parents in tilling and weds, were given food on tending the land, and stood under a ceramic plate. It was the the blistering sun and worked on ultimate serving of rice and the paddy fields.” boiled meat,” Kinun share, After the paddy planting, she 62 years later. would scour the jungle for dead In those days, food was tree branches, cut them up and tie served in coconut shells, them to her ‘basung’, a cylindri- de-husked and polished to cal container carried on the back. a sheen. Each halve would The dead branches would serve as then be stuck to a small kindling for the kitchen fire. piece of wood underneath to When she turned 18, a group of enable it to stay upright and people from Kg Tombulion, Kota would serve for soup bowls Belud, came to ask for her hand in and rice. Most of the time, marriage. however, rice was wrapped “It must have been in 1951. I in leaves. Coconut shells had never met my future husband were also used for ladles and Kinun Gunida then but our parents thought us spoons as well as spatulas. fit to marry and they negotiated “Each family in those the dowry and the ceremony to be days had at least 30 of these held,” she recalled. polished coconut shells and from the river with the Rugut or Since there were no papers to during weddings, we would bor- Bamboo cuts. record their agreed price on dow- row from the whole village, which Her husband also built them a ries, they made do with a simple ensured that everybody had a house. string made from the bark of the bowl of meat,” she stated, add“In those days, we did not have Timbagan tree. ing that the shells had markings to planks. What we did was use They knotted the string at vari- identify ownership. tough tree trunks from the jungle ous points, each knot representAfter the wedding, she followed … the tree usually used was ‘toming an item that the groom should her husband to Kg Tombulion bidaton’, a huge tree with small bring for the bride as dowry and where she raised her family and leaves that is very hardy. gifts. remains to this day. From logs that he cut and In Kinun’s case, two knots on dragged home with the buffalo, the string indicated two buffaloes Married Life and Independence bamboo that he would splay out as gifts. One would be slaughtered to dry before using them as walls for the feast and the other one Life with her husband, Tundan and floors of their new home, and would be used for fieldwork in the Tamowah, who was the same age wood he took from the jungle to couple’s new home. as her, was no different than the build the framework, he made After the marriage proposal was one with her family. them a home of their own. accepted, the couple got married. “We tilled the land, planted “It was nice to have our own On the day itself, the newlyweds our paddy and harvested it,” she home and not stay with my insat on a colourful and pretty mat shared, adding that she still looked laws. This house was also our bought from the Bajau Sama tribe for kindling and carried water paddy hut, so it became quite crowded after a while,” she share, adding that the paddy containers made from tree bark occupied almost all the space. She went on to have seven children, the first born in 1953. “The children had to squeeze into one space while we squeezed into another among the paddy containers,” she recalled. In 1963, North Borneo gained its independence and soon after together with Malaya and Sarawak created the Federation of Malaysia. An army camp, named Paradise Camp, was set up in Kota Belud. “My husband went to apply for a job there and managed to land a general worker post. I think this changed our lives a bit,” she recalled. BEAUTIFUL: Other old traditional costumes in her home. By that time, the house was get-


LOVELY: Nuati and her friends showing off traditional items.

ting too small and the children were growing. “With his salary, my husband began to buy planks and zinc, month by month, and then he started to build our house. By that time, we became aware of other types of house styles and my husband adapted his style in line with the new architecture,” she shared. The result was a house that was the first of its kind in the village. To the family, the house was beautiful; a wooden-planked house with zinc roof instead of a roof from palm fronds. Their neighbours were still in bamboo and attap roofs then. Their kitchenwares were store-bought too. No more coconut shells and leaves. Her life had become much better then. However, education among her children was still low as they had gone to assist her in the fields instead of going to school, just as she did with her own family. Her husband passed away several years ago, but Kinun, 80, still lives in the house he built and receives his monthly pension. She is alive and well in the IT age, which was inconceivable in her distant past.

BEFORE ZINC: A replica of how homes used to be.

A struggle forward Nuati Tundan, 61, was born in Kg Tombulion, Kota Belud, the second of seven children. She recalled the hardship of growing up and the struggle to stand up as a woman in a traditional family. “In those days, girls were not encouraged to go to school. They were usually groomed and trained to work with their parents in the paddy fields.” She remembered going to the paddy fields to work with her parents. She would Nuati Tuandan wake up very early to start her chores which included carrying water from the river, pounding paddy for against me going out. I managed rice, harvesting, ploughing ... it to sneak out to attend though and never seemed to end. when my parents asked me why, “As the eldest girl, I was also in I told them that I just wanted to charge of the kitchen, cooking and know how to write my name. cleaning.” “I don’t know how long it The Kadamaian River was teem- was before they finally accepted ing with fish in those days and so the fact that I went to school in getting food was never a problem. the evenings. I had to go with a The lack of freezers forced the vil- younger sibling who did not atlagers not to over-fish as they had tend school either and I remember nothing with which to keep them that we had to hold a torch made fresh. of lit rubber over our heads when Nuati was deprived of an edu- we walked home at night.” cation, as her parents needed her She held on to the hope that more in the fields. Nobody told education would be the forefront her about the necessity or advan- of her life. tage of education. It was only later Several years later in 1970, she in her life that education was ex- married a young man named Lipounded and her younger siblings gun Kijau from the same village. went to school. Together, they lived in a small “I was envious, but there was bamboo house and struggled to nothing I could do about it,” she eke a living off the land, scoursaid. ing the river and forests for food. When she was in her teens, the They went on to have five chilnew Malaysian government had dren. instituted evening school for maBy then, Malaysia had already ture students dubbed ‘sekolah de- been formed and education was wasa’. foremost on the government’s “I wanted to go, of course, but it agenda. was in the evening so being a young Nuati was determined to prioriwoman, my parents were totally tise education for her children.

ANTIQUE: More traditional items.

“I believed that only education could contribute to my children’s well-being and ensure that their future would be bright, especially in employability or in garnering income.” The struggled tremendously to send the children to school, selling tracts of land and borrowing from friends and family when that wasn’t enough. Fortunately, her children did well at school, perhaps realising how hard their parents worked to eke a meagre living. “I remember nights when I cried myself to sleep thinking of my children in school with no money for food,” Nuati share, adding that through will power, all of her children went to university with school scholarships available from the Sabah Foundation and PTPTN. All five of her children are now university graduates, majoring in education. “I feel fortunate and content now that they are all educated, unlike me. They are all good children. My eldest has assisted us to make a new and bigger house, so that they can come home and have a good place to stay. My eldest also funded my Umrah.” Nuati has not forgotten the old ways of course and she keeps a lot of relics from the past. “I picked them up when people discarded them and mend them,” she shared, adding that the past and its quirks, its costumes and dances are part of her traditional identity and she holds on to it so that it does not fade away with time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

E6 Down Memory Lane

A bittersweet glimpse into the past By Antonia Chiam


trip down memory lane often reminds us of what we’re lost over the years as we grow out of our childhood and into the hectic adult world that last the rest of our lives. Some memories fade, while some remain but they are not just part of who we are but also make up the bits and pieces of our society today. For 60-year-old James, an opportunity to catch a glimpse into the past through this special interview reminded him keenly of what we no longer fully enjoy now. “We have lost that sense of complete physical security. I remember that back in those days, we did not have to lock our doors or gates when we were at home or even when we were out to a neighbour’s house. “Nobody had to worry about strangers or burglaries in the neighbourhood as everybody. “Children were allowed to play outside and parents didn’t have to worry about their safety,” he recalled. James spent his early childhood years in Main Bazaar before the family moved to Green Road in the 1960s. “Green Road area was then the nearest housing estate to town. It wasn’t as ‘ulu’ as areas like Batu Kawa and it was also the newest suburban area at that time. “The neighbourly bond while living in a housing estate was strong too. People were helpful and they took the initiative to get to know one another,” said the owner of a car accessories shop, who attended primary school at St Thomas School and received his secondary schooling at Li Tah High School, which is now Basaga Holiday Residences on Tabuan Road. James noted that his childhood was best remembered as simple and secure with a strong sense of kinship among the community he lived in. “I remembered fishing, climbing trees, playing marbles and hopscotch as some of my favourite pastime activities with other children in the neighbourhood. It was a time of friendship and a time when people valued simplicity in life. “At home, we spent our leisure time listening to the radio. Sometimes we would go to the cinemas, usually once or twice a week. I re-

member Rex, Capitol, Odeon and Cathay: none of them are around now except for Rex, which used to be where Star Cineplex is today. “There were no shopping malls. The only nice place to shop was Electra House and there was only one supermarket, which was Ting & Ting’s. “Occasionally my family and I would go to the countryside by bus to shop for fresh produce as well as for sightseeing,” he said with a smile. Although he was a child growing up in colonial Kuching, James could not remember the political developments that led to the formation of Malaysia in those days. “I was too young, barely 12 yet. I can only vaguely remember that time when the last British Governor of Sarawak (Sir Alexander Waddell) was going to leave Kuching for good. There was a big send-off at the Sarawak River. “A lot of fanfare was going on, with the police band playing and people in a celebratory mood. I don’t think I knew what was going on at that time,” he said. That fateful day was Sept 15, 1963, a day before the formation of Malaysia was official. Now 50 years on, James could not help but arrive at the conclusion that the 60s, 70s and early 80s were wonderful years gone by and the great sense of community

would never happened anymore. “How wonderful if people could protect and maintain the simple values that made our lives so secure. I really miss that kind of environment and I believe most people my age or older do feel this. The old values are greatly lacking now. “Obvious changes came in terms of population and development. The most important concerns are those relating to education, health and security, which affects everyone. “Just by reading the news and hearing stories or experiences of others, we know crimes are on the rise. People are more insecure and dissatisfied with their social environment. “Development and progress, no matter how beneficial they are to our society, cannot replace those old simple values of life. Development and progress are a means to an end, not the end itself. If we get them mixed up, we will become confused, distrustful and disrespectful of one another. “I do hope that someday our education system will be enhanced to focus more on inculcating humanistic

values and goals that could ensure happiness for every individual, instead of just being too result-oriented and knowledge-based,” he pointed out. In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Sarawak independence, James wished that all Sarawakians will continue to live in peace and harmony for many generations to come.

DASHING YOUTH: James in his youthful days.

CAREFREE DAYS: James as a primary school pupil in 1966 at the playground of Garland School, Batu Kawa Road.

YOUNG: James as a young child in the late 50s with his older brother near Kuching High School.

HAPPY FAMILY: James with his wife and three children in a recent family photo.

A simpler life By Chen Ai Shih


oday’s children are overwhelmed by advancement in electronic gadgets but during the 1940s, children did not even have a TV at home to watch. “Those days, we spent our childhood running in the wild. My best activity was to row a sampan with my younger brother to catch fish and crabs in Rajang River,” recalled Mok Sem Fua. The 74-year-old said that they were outdoorsy, unlike today’s children where most of them stay indoors and play games on their computers, PSP, and smartphones. Mok, a Cantonese, was born in 1939 in Sungai Pak, Sibu, a small village near the Rajang River. His grandfather came from the Guangdong province in China. “We used a net to catch fish and crabs. We caught something everytime. A good catch came up to more than 10 fish, up to two kilogram (kg) while we caught up to two kg of crabs. We couldn’t finish them and we sold them to other villagers,” he said.

At that time, nature was their closest and best friend. As long as they were hardworking, they could have food in abundance. His parents were farmers, and he was one of nine children. They were not rich but moderately well-off. They lived a simple and peaceful life by growing vegetables and selling rubber and pepper. “My parents went to tap rubber very early, about 4am, with kerosene lamps. Then the elder children would help collect the latex,” he said. He said he and his siblings also helped in the farm to harvest pepper, vegetables and weeding after school. He said he was lucky to have the chance to study until Form Three during the British colonial era because people during that time had less chance to study. He said they could choose to have either an English or Chinese education. He chose Chinese and completed his Form Three at a school in Sibu, today’s SMK Tung Hua. He entered primary

school when he was already more than 10 years old. He said it was not compulsory for children at the time to enter school at a fixed age like now. The school had only one teacher and all students gathered together at a place to study. They were divided into morning and afternoon sessions because there were not enough seats. “The study hours were uncertain and not systematic like today’s education system,” he said. He remembered the first time he went to t h e cin-

Mok Sem Fua

ema he was in secondary school at the time. “In our village, we slept at 8pm when the day turned dark. No night life or even entertainment, no light, except people’s wedding or festive celebrations,” he said. He said they made kuih with tapioca and ate rice cooked with sweet potatoes their parents planted. Banana and papaya were the most common fruits in their village. “We never k n e w

there were fruits like apple and grapes, seriously. We never drank coffee at home, only when we went to town to sell things and sat in the coffee shop. “We had nothing to buy in the village. We bought big cans of biscuits, meat, bread and tea leaves from town whenever we went to sell things. We exchanged the ‘Atap salt’ and sugar we bought from town with the Dayak villagers for paddy,” he said. He said the villagers travelled to Sibu town by boat. They did not even need a bicycle because there were no roads. After Form Three, he later went for tailoring lessons in Sibu and helped at his friend’s tailor shop in Pakan, where he met his wife. They moved back to Sungai Pak village and earned their livings by tapping rubber. Then, they moved to Dalat and opened a tailor shop. “Due to the stiff competition, our friend told us to open a shop in Sebuyau as there was none there. For 30 over years, life there was good until fire razed our wooden shop to the ground last year,” he said.

He said in the olden days, fish and vegetables were fresh and cheap. “Last time in Sebuyau, a kati of fish was only 80 cents. Now it goes up to RM18 and sometimes over RM20. What an increase! Life in the village was low cost and simple. Now living in town, the expenses have gone up,” he said. Over the last few years, he observed that things had changed a lot, but he hoped the multi-racial harmony would remain. “This is a good place. The people are simple and friendly regardless of their different religions and culture. I hope we can continue to live in peace and harmony,” he said. What he worried about was the increase of crime rates and murder cases. “It’s better here than Peninsular Malaysia but I hope something could be done to reduce the crime rate. “Nobody can predict the future. But I hope our country remains peaceful. Hopefully, the government will fulfill their promises too,” he said.

Monday, September 16, 2013

E7 Down Memory Lane

When movie tickets cost 50 cts By Georgette Tan


he greatest weekend a kid could have growing up in post-independence Malaysia was a Saturday movie marathon at the local cinemas. In those days, a cineplex was something not within the realms of possibility. Instead, Gordon Tan, 56, recalled getting on his bicycle first thing in the morning, and spending the rest of the day cycling from cinema to cinema to see as many movies as he could in a day. “I remember cycling around one weekend to watch as many movies as I could. I cycled from Capitol, to Odeon, to Lido, to Rex, and to Cathay. It didn’t matter what movie was showing. You start at the 10.30am show, then the 1pm, try to hit the 3pm, then 6pm and midnight.” He would buy the 50 cent tickets, and if the good seats were not full, move up to the $1.10 seats when the show started. Tan still remembered the last movie he watched at Odeon Jackie Chan’s ‘Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow’. “Of course, we watched all the James Bond and Bruce Lee movies,” he said, adding that movies today rely a lot of special effects, with more science fiction genres available. Spiderman, Superman and The Avengers were limited to

I remember cycling around one weekend to watch as many movies as I could. I cycled from Capitol, to Odeon, to Lido, to Rex, and to Cathay. It didn’t matter what movie was showing. You start at the 10.30am show, then the 1pm, try to hit the 3pm, then 6pm and midnight. — Gordon Tan

the printed page when he was a kid. Now they’re on the big screen as movies. Tan quipped that Spiderman was his least favourite comic book character because the story was always ‘to be continued’ in the next issue. One experience he was glad to experience was his first plane ride, following his father to Sibu for a day trip. “We flew in the Dakota, the War World 2 plane, before the Fokker Friendship. I’m glad because after that, there wasn’t any more Dakota. I don’t remember how long it took. I only know my ears hurt and it was noisy.” Tan left Malaysia for further studies in 1974, on board a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plane, but for family holidays in his childhood days, they flew to Singapore on the Malaysia Singapore Airlines (MSA). Born just before the formation of the Malaya federation, Tan possessed a British birth certificate and went to an English medium school - St Joseph’s. He went on to do his A-levels, followed by chemical engineering in England. Going to univer-

sity in the seventies meant that you’d either graduate as a doctor or engineer, Tan explained. He eliminated the medical profession from his options because biology did not come naturally to him, and because of a lecturer that made things difficult for him in class. “I found out I could drop biology so I did.” Tan described himself as a numbers person, therefore adapting better to physics, mathematics and chemistry. Today, he is the office network lines manager for an international company supplying solutions to the oil and gas industry, with 1,200 offices across the globe under his care and a budget of US$60 million. “I started nearly 33 years ago as an offshore chemical engineer pumping cement. I was based in Miri, but the rigs are usually in the waters of Sabah,” said Tan, who is now based in Houston, Texas. When asked what buildings from his childhood he wished was still around, the first answer was an unsurprising one. “Our house. The one I was born

in: The government quarters at Satok road. Now it’s just a garden. And St Michael’s canteen. I have memories of walking to school, before reaching museum, taking kolo mee at St Michael’s.” But everything changes, he said. What hasn’t changed is the people of Sarawak. “People in Kuching are still very friendly and simple. Maybe the younger generation are more aware of global trends because of the Internet and because of what they have - smartphones, mobile devices. They are more aligned with what’s happening globally and try to follow the trend.” There are also more local colleges and roads now, he added. “But we are still very considerate of one another despite the different cultures.” Tan expressed his hope that Sarawak continued to be peaceful and united as a state and multi-cultural people group, tolerant to each other in terms of religion and freedom in expressing those beliefs. “If there are any restrictions to any groups because of their race or religious beliefs, I hope that can be overcome so we can focus on the land we have. There is still growth opportunities in Sarawak. The development still happening, we’re still a little bit behind some areas. We can still learn from other parts of Malaysia how we can do things better.” A DIFFERENT TIME: Gordon Tan with his British birth certificate.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Young hopes and aspirations By Amy Dangin


S Malaysia turns 50 this year, The Borneo Post spoke to young adults of various backgrounds on what their hopes and aspirations would be for the country in the next 50 years. From better education system and improved medical facilities, to Ironman suits and animal rights, here’s what they have to say about future Malaysia. Esther Donny Kimsiong, 28, Teacher I wish for a corruption-free country, a government that can look after people of various backgrounds especially those living in poverty. I wish to see a genuine achievement in the context of development and not just saying we are a great nation or that we have achieved great lengths in infrastructural development. I also wish for leaders who can lead the people of Malaysia in living by example because how can we work towards being a successful country if leaders fail to lead? Malaysia can be a better nation if we could just learn to accept each other despite our differences. If we could just stop championing who is better or which religion is more important and just stop pinpointing who is to be blamed then perhaps in due time, unity might be able to suppress all the prejudices. The Malaysia that I want my children to live in is a country which is not only successful in many aspects but also a nation which can be looked at as exemplary in ethics and morality from the people at the top to the lowest. To me, it is useless to accomplish a so-called hi-tech future if we do not have integrity. I want a country that respects each religion, race, and gender equally where discrimination is amiss.

Esther Donny Kimsiong

Esther Blasius Moningot

Betsy Tendahal

Sandra Rae Bolaño Tikau

Sheva Suhaimi James

Esther Blasius Moningot, 28, Radiographer Sabah has undeniably been the country with the most beautiful natural wonders to boast of. I hope the authority, in their vision of future Sabah, would continue to preserve its beauty of nature. Not just for tourism purposes but for the sake of our children. It would be great if more places of nature and interest would be gazetted as heritage parks. But more importantly, our corals need to be restored. I’m disappointed to see that the corals in Manukan Island and all the other islands in Kota Kinabalu area are currently dying. I also hope that hospitals in Malaysia can be upgraded so that future Malaysians can enjoy more and better benefits from the country’s Health Department and to promote a healthier Malaysia. I hope Malaysia can be a country where people from around the world would come and seek medical treatment, for having advanced and quality medical technologies for diagnostic purposes, surgery, and treatment, unlike now.

Betsy Tendahal, 27 I wish to see Malaysia’s democracy being truly practised, Sabah’s poverty abolished, improved education system, especially in the rural areas, and better road and transport system. I wish for business and industry players to truly practice ethics and integrity. Property developers owe it to the people to put in more effort into the quality of their construction. Nowadays, newly-bought houses develop defects and cracks way before the end of the defect liability period. It’s unfair. Malaysia also has a lot to improve on when it comes to animal rights. Instead of killing stray animals or leaving them to die, they should instead enhance facilities for the placement of these poor creatures.

impossible for locals to have the slightest chance to enjoy our own gems in our own place. Even the rate for climbing Sabah’s very own Mount Kinabalu had risen to impossible heights. I bet many locals have yet to know how beautiful paradises like Lankayan Resort, Sipadan-Mabul Resort, Sipadan Water Village (SWV), Borneo Divers, Kapalai Resort, Manukan Island, Mataking Island Resort, and Bunga Raya Resort are because they can’t afford it. How are we to promote our places of attraction if we cannot even afford to enjoy them for ourselves first?

there’s much to their culture and traditions that they could admire and that much of their prejudices are unfounded. To have a better future for this nation and making this the best home for all, we have to start thinking of ourselves as Malaysians and not whatever race or identity. Being Malaysian first doesn’t mean we cease to be Malay, Indian, Chinese, Iban, or Kadazan but that our identity is now firmly anchored to our nationality. A more accepting nation will make a better Malaysia.

racial and religion related issues. Improvements in the education system should also be thoroughly discussed in the parliament and seriously implemented. The government in all its wishes and dreams for the rakyat, should first lead by example. Instead of telling us to do what is right or stop people from protesting, they should first put themselves in the people’s shoes and provide for what is right.

Sandra Rae Bolaño Tikau, 28, Document Controller There are a lot of on-going issues that I wish the powers-that-be could resolve for a better Malaysia in the future. One of them would be the ever-increasing rates of our world-class resorts in Sabah. The rates have become ridiculously expensive that it has become

Sheva Suhaimi James, 18, student With racial and religion-related hatred being spread among Malaysians currently, I propose for those who are still stuck in such bigotry to go out of their own community and start building friendships with Malaysians of different races and religions. Let’s invite each other to festivals, anniversaries, and birthday celebrations more. They would be pleasantly surprised to find out that

Dr Nurul Rahman, 30, medical officer I wish for a future Malaysia where my kids will be able to wear Ironman suits to school. I want an Ironman suit for myself as well. Jacquline Francis, 28, colour consultant Transparency and equality of rights had long been promised to the people, and remains a wish I would have for a better Malaysia. There should be more programmes to liberalise the people’s mindset not to become too extreme in all aspects, especially in

Joanes Amyx, 29, part-timer I wish to see equality being truly practised by having all racial-based special rights abolished. The existing rights have produced a laidback, spoon-fed generation, compared to those whose rights are not as acknowledged and have to work harder in their lives. Development should also be equally implemented, so that we no longer hear about ‘kampung’ children being any less smart than their urban counterparts. There are a lot of brilliant children born in the rural areas but they are just not as privileged as those born in the urban areas. It’s something I wish for the future of my country.

Exotic food in and around KK By Jenne Lajiun


ESS than 30 years ago, the folk in Kota Kinabalu didn’t have that much choice when it came to the selection of food offered by the various food stalls, restaurants and coffee shops. One could either opt for fried or soup noodle, or rice served with some vegetables, meat and seafood. Back in those days, the type of cuisines served could be segregated into two types: Chinese food and Malay food or Javanese cuisines. But times have changed. Not only has the status of Kota Kinabalu been upgraded to a city, it has also begun attracting investors in the food business that led to the opening up of fast food chains the likes of McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Burger King, as well as Western food establishments such as Little Italy, which is presently one of the most famous Italian restaurant in the middle of the city. Just how rich is the offering of the city, where food is concerned? I would say it has become as rich as the cultures of the people of Sabah, and further infused with inter-marriages that have occurred over the years. The marriage of two people, in a sense, is not only the merging of two souls, but also of two pots and kitchens. This presents the opportunity to whip up some new and creatively created food fare and the introduction of different styles of cooking, hence, enriching the flavours and colours of our ‘local’ cuisines. I had a chance to sample some gorgeous meals when I was walking along Gaya Street recently. A newbie Bah Kut Teh operator, who only wanted to be known as Paul, for instance, was more than keen to let me try out his ‘dried Bah Kut Teh’. He operates near the Agro Bank, and his operation is called the ‘R1 Bah Kut Teh’. Now, according to Paul, the dried Bah Kut Teh served and prepared at R1 Bah Kut Teh was special as it is prepared by a Timorese chef who has more than 30 years in the preparation of the delicious fare. “We are not stingy with the con-

diments and herbs in the preparation of our Bah Kut Teh. We use 10 types of special herbs and these herbs are said to have the capacity to balance the human body,” he said. Paul also briefly shared the history of Bah Kut Teh, rectifying the false information I have all along on the origin of the cuisine. “Many people believe that Bah Kut Teh originated from China. But the truth is, it was started in Klang by the poor Chinese folk that resided there. Bah Kut Teh was in a way, a poor man’s dish, but the people who consumed it found that it energised them and made them stronger, so they began eating it regularly and pretty soon, it became popular,” he said. Hence, it wasn’t a surprise to see people thronging his shop early in the morning for a breakfast consisting of the Bah Kut Teh noodle and dried Bah Kut Teh since he began operating at Gaya Street. Perhaps the affordability of the food served there was also what attracted people to come to the shop. But then again, if the food was not as great, people won’t keep coming back. And the patrons are coming back, again and again. My next stop was the Pasta Pasta, also at Gaya Street. The restaurant serving fast food Italian cuisine was recently opened this year, but the aroma coming from their kitchen was luring a steady stream of patrons both locally and from

abroad. The chef at the establishment, Dailey Dawat said they had more than a hundred combinations for the pasta dishes at their fast food shop. “We serve six types of Italian noodles ... spaghetti, penne rigate, rotini, macaroni, linguine and farfalle and you can choose four types of sauces and six types of toppings with the noodles,” he said. While Pasta Pasta sounded “very Italian”, he said a special tweak had been made to make the taste of the dishes offered there “very local”. “You won’t find Italian restaurants serving curries, for instance. It is not part of their culture. But we have our curry sauces for people who love spice. We’re more inclined towards introducing the local fare, with a hint of Italian,” he said. Aside from curry, the eatery also serves tomato, carbonara and pesto sauces to clients that are inclined towards Italian tastes. And the toppings to choose from include sliced chicken, minced beef, beef bacon and mushroom, meatball, Italian sausage, seafood and vegetarian. “We can whip up more than 100 types of dishes with the combinations we are offering,” said Dailey. Switching from the story of food to the history of the establishment, I was made to understand that establishments such as the Pasta Pasta were common in countries like

South Korea and in Taiwan. “The idea stemmed from these countries. But they don’t sell from shops. Most of them are street hawkers.” So far, the delicious aroma coming from the Pasta Pasta kitchen and their affordable pricing are working wonders for them. A story of Sabah food and cuisine would be incomplete without the Hinava, the traditional food of the Kadazandusun folk. Unfortunately, one has to travel a bit further to sample this fare as the cuisine is non-existent within the city centre. My craving for this particular dish has brought me to Menggatal, and to the ‘Nipuhawang’ eatery. The owner of the shop, Arlinisa Agang, 32, has created a special cuisine that depicts the Hinava, a popular and tasteful raw fish dish that has been marinated with mango slices, lime juice and onions, just to name a few. Her special offering at the shop are sweet intestines that are cooked to perfection and marinated with the same condiments used for the Hinava has been well received by the folk in Menggatal as well as beyond. “Some ask me to prepare the dish when they have something special going on like a birthday, a wedding and so on. I do catering also and this is one of my most sought after dishes,” she said.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Annemarie Hiew

Sarah Saalini

Emmanuel Lo

Sarah Wong

Robert Hii

Tan Ken Siang

The significance of Malaysia Day to the youth By Natasha Sim


OR the young people of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia Day should be a reminder of the nation’s journey to independence and understood as a symbol of progress. “What Malaysia Day should be is a reminder of what we took to get there, and all that we had to fight for,” Robert Hii, a 28-yearold engineer told The Borneo Post. According to him, Malaysia Day was founded on the basis of mutual respect from the three parties concerned, namely, Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. Malaysia’s formation on September 16 in 1963 marked the beginning of our democracy, he said.

“We take for granted what Malaysia was founded on and how much we actually fought for independence. It is however unfortunate that the independence of the Federation of Malaya in 1957 has become synonymous with the formation of Malaysia in 1963,” Robert asserted. Robert claims that the reason why the younger generation lacked an understanding of Sept 16, 1963 was because of the gradual shifts in education paradigms. “We progressively moved from a local mindset to a national mindset that is largely dictated by West Malaysia. This shift changes the views of the next generation,” he said. “We generally do not learn enough of East Malaysian history, especially in our school history

textbooks,” Emmanuel Lo said. The 22-year-old business student said that there was not enough emphasis on East Malaysian history in our general education. Meanwhile, Tan Ken Siang, 22, a TESL (Teaching English as Second Language) student, reckons that it is because of the general lack of media exposure. To a lot of the youths, Malaysia Day is simply another public holiday, opined Sarah Saalini and Annemarie Hiew, both aged 22. Sarah said that as a child, she was not encouraged to celebrate September 16 compared to the more ‘extravagant’ August 31. Moving forward, Tan and Sarah both think that the young also have a responsibility to educate themselves on the history of the

formation of Malaysia. Additionally, Robert believes that the young generally lose out on the meaning of Malaysia Day because of a lack of political awareness and understanding. He believes that the concept of ‘Malaysia’ needs to be re-evaluated because very little is understood about its historical background. “We do not pay enough attention to our political identity, therefore losing the importance of what it means to be a political nation, thus undermining the historical significance of Malaysia Day,” he said. Emmanuel, however, contends that Generation-Y and Millennium babies are becoming more politically aware with the advent of social media and the Internet.

Social media enables people to jump into discussions or learn of different opinions through the various postings, Emmanuel claimed. On this point, Sarah Wong, 22, insinuated that the Net generation is just “conveniently interested” in politics because of the amount of ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ on postings and news on Facebook. “We are easily interested because when a post goes viral it is all everyone talks (‘shares’ and ‘likes’) about, but once the topic cools, so will our interest wane. Just because we are more exposed to these topics, it does not mean that we have a more mature understanding of these issues,” she said. One thing for sure is the hope that these young ones have for a

better Malaysia. “What I would hope for a better Malaysia is for people to stop blaming each other and to stop running away from our problems. “We need more education, activism, cultural and social awareness to make a better Malaysia,” Robert said. An improved education system is also something that Wong, Sarah, and Tan hope for in a better Malaysia. Annemarie hopes for a Malaysia where people can speak their minds without fear of judgment or punishment. “I want to see a Malaysia where we can all discuss things rationally and reasonably. A Malaysia where freedom of speech matters,” Annemarie said.

Wishing for more change in Sabah for the next 50 years By Christy Chok


OME Sept 16 we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia, which also marks the 50th anniversary of Sabah’s independence. Sabah has undergone various phases of development since it gained independence in 1963. Three sisters -Coanne, Coreena and Charlene Chok - believe that Sabah has developed in leaps and bounds – evolving into an important part of the federation of Malaysia as we see the ‘Land Below The Wind’ today. Coanne, 28, said she was proud of having seen and experienced some of the changes in her hometown of Tawau, and throughout Sabah. She noticed that people were now quite open-minded compared to before and that they enjoyed modern technology and racial harmony. The significant changes in lifestyle have also brought inflation tand economic imbalance in the country. “Many products and services including food and beverages are costly so much so many of us (consumers) can hardly afford it,” Coanne said. “Today’s life is really difficult and miserable! “For the next 50 years in Sabah, I am looking forward to see a balanced economy and the people living peacefully regardless of race and religion. It would be important to have unity and every ethnic group being treated equally and fairly. “The government should strive to improve basic infrastructures such as road, water and power supply especially in the east coast of Sabah as we have been lacking these for so many years. “More highways should be built to enable local and foreign visitors to travel to all places of interest

Coanne (left) and Coreena Chok

throughout the state with ease. We should reduce the occurrence of accidents,” said Coanne, who works as a teacher. Meanwhile, her twin sister, Coreena said that many factories had also been built or would be built near residential areas here. She agreed that these factories would boost the country’s economy but they could also cause noise and environmental pollution. She said it was not a good idea to have these factories close to residential areas and the government should look into this matter seriously. Their youngest sister, Charlene, 22, hoped that the state government could provide all aspects of economic development in order to achieve equilibrium in the economy. Scholarship approval and university intakes, for example,

should be fairly given out among the Bumiputeras and Non-Bumiputreas. “Tawau has changed from being a small town to a developed district. Tawau is famous for fresh seafood which can attract foreign visitors and even local visitors from West Malaysia. “Tawau district has many new buildings which can be considered as the positive side of development, but low salaries for the working population is not good at all. The government should do something to improve the people’s take-home pay. The security level in the district here also should be given serious attention to enable the people to live in peace and harmony. “We should work harder in our conservation efforts and take some initiative to import some animals from other countries with an eye

Dicky Chan

Charlene Chok

on boosting our tourism sector as well as make Sabah as a good place to travel to,” she pointed out. She said that Sabah was still developing in terms of transportation. Since there are no LRTs or monorails, most people here normally travel by bus. “It is scary to think of the increasing number of accidents associated with travelling by bus.” She hoped Sabah would keep up with its development and seriously consider having an efficient network of transportations as well as increasing its attractions for travellers in order to improve the Sabahan economy. Charlene, who is an undergraduate, also hoped for more job opportunities for Sabahans. The cultural composition in Sabah is very unique and multicultural. Every ethnic group and race has high respect one anoth-

er. Dicky Chan, 29, also said Sabah could be a ‘Special State’ with some autonomy in terms of economy, resources and multi-races. The state has undergone many changes over the years in terms of economy, security, infrastructure and job opportunities. However, the prices of goods and properties are increasing dramatically compared to most employees’ salaries which have not increased in a line with the price hike. He opined that not much change had taken place in Tawau since he was a child. Since 20 years ago, Tawau has always suffered from shortage of water and electricity supply, bad road condition and flooding which remain unsolved to this day. Besides that, Tawau is the third largest town in Sabah but lacks

job opportunities for returning graduates. Remuneration is also not fair for those with low education and skilled workers. The government has set the minimum wage but it is still not fair to Sabah and Sarawak. The new car price is higher in Tawau than others area due to the sales tax and transportation fees incurred. However, Sabah is rich in sea food but up to 75 per cent is exported overseas and to other states in Malaysia. Local residents have no choice but to consume expensive seafood. “Sabah has many talents, but does not have much funds to develop them. For example, local singers need to have their own broadcasting to promote their music or culture to all Malaysians,” he concluded.

Monday, September 16, 2013


VISION: The strongest legacy you can leave behind is a strong pipeline for future leaders.

WELL-TRAVELLED: The last two decades have seen Lo move around the world in various positions before returning last year to helm.

Shell’s first Sarawakian country chairman SHELL has traded in Malaysia for over 120 years, and started producing oil in Miri, Sarawak in 1910. The company has built a reputation for developing local talent both within the company and through its scholarship and capacity building programmes. Amongst the company’s illustrious local alumni are Sabahan Dato’ Sri Lim Haw Kuang who was country chairman and managing director of Sarawak Shell Berhad and Sabah Shell Petroleum Corporation; and Sarawakians Datuk Tan Ek Kia who was managing director of the two companies as well Dato’ Sri Idris Jala who was managing director of Shell Malaysia’s gas and power business. Iain Lo, Shell Malaysia’s first country chairman from Sarawak and managing director of Sarawak Shell Berhad and Sabah Shell Petroleum Company Ltd is another example. Born and raised in Kuching, he left for boarding school in England at 15 and graduated from UCLA in 1987 as a civil engineer. He began working with Shell in 1990, starting in Miri as a field engineer. The last two decades have seen him move around the world in various positions before returning last year to helm Malaysia’s oldest oil company. He shares his thoughts on leading the company, developing talent, and some of his early defining influences.


n being the first Sarawakian to hold the post as Shell Malaysia’s chairman, as well as managing director to Sarawak Shell Bhd and Sabah Shell Petroleum Co Ltd my two most prevalent feelings are pride and responsibility. Shell is a big company and we have been operating here for over 100 years – it’s high profile, it’s profitable. It is an honour for me, especially as a Sarawakian, to helm this multinational here in Malaysia. I hope to inspire other Malaysians not to put boundaries on themselves. Asians frequently hold back because we don’t think we’re good enough, which is not true... you can excel even if you’re from the smallest town. I also feel a great sense of responsibility to ensure Shell’s business remains strong so we can provide attractive, exciting employment for the future. I want to sustain our current success, and create opportunities for talented Malaysians, identify the future leaders and accelerate their careers. There is also a desire to give back to the community – I take our corporate social responsibilities seriously. Area of responsibility in Sarawak and Malaysia I have executive responsibility for the upstream business in Malaysia through Sarawak Shell Berhad and Sabah Shell Petroleum Company Ltd which operate under production sharing contracts with PETRONAS. As operators, we produce mainly gas in Sarawak and oil in Sabah. We are joint-venture partners in the Baram Delta Operations with

Iain Lo

PETRONAS Carigali and KPOC in Sabah. We also have exploration joint ventures. Our other businesses are diverse – we have a vibrant downstream and leading market share in fuels retailing and lubricants. I am also chairman of Shell companies in Malaysia including Shell Refining Company which is public listed, and all our downstream marketing companies. I also chair the board of directors of SMDS, (the company that operates the Shell middle distillate synthesis plant in Bintulu) which makes the world’s cleanest waxes from gas we produce offshore Sarawak, and sell to 50 different countries. Other business dimensions include Projects & Technology which supplies technical services, technology capability and major project delivery in both upstream and downstream and the Shell Business Service Centre which provides common business support and services for Shell operations worldwide. It is the second largest business centre in the world, after Manila. Initial experiences upon joining Shell as a field engineer in the 90s I was working as a civil structure engineer in my dad’s firm in Kuching but I was not feeling challenged. I wasn’t learning quickly enough from my bosses or peers in the firm, and my career development was flat-lining. Shell looked like an interesting employer even though I didn’t know much about the oil and gas industry. All I knew was that the offshore structures that Shell required seemed exciting and challenging to a structural engineer. When I applied, I said I couldn’t swim and I did not want to work offshore… the first job I got was offshore as a field engineer which was a bit of a dilemma! I didn’t know how to swim having almost drowned at Giam (near Kuching) as a 10 year old. I overcame my fear and decided I would learn to swim … it took one day in my mother’s friend’s swimming pool and I passed the sea survival training at Shell. It was really exciting and fun in those first 18 months installing platforms, laying pipelines. Because engineers like to build things, it was also instantly gratifying. There’s nothing there in the middle of the sea when you arrive and

DUTIFUL: Lo feels a great sense of responsibility to ensure Shell’s business remains strong.

ten days later, there’s a platform ready for the drilling rig to come in. Stressful, challenging but you learn a lot! What was eye-opening coming from the construction industry to oil and gas was the importance of safety even back then in 1990, from the safety training that I had to go through and the seriousness with which we took safety. One barge superintendent was asked to leave because he had the wrong attitude to safety even though it meant we couldn’t work for two days – that was the day I learnt how seriously Shell takes safety. We took those two days and we spent that time talking to the workers about why we did it, to ensure that their lives would not be put in jeopardy by somebody so cavalier about safety. The oil and gas industry back then compared to today In Malaysia, Shell’s business was certainly a lot simpler back then. When I joined in 1990, it was still relatively shallow water, big fields that we were developing and we were in growth mode. There was a lot of energy and excitement and we were essentially going to double our operations in Sarawak and we were looking to explore for more oil in Sabah. So for Shell, it was an exciting time to be here and for Malaysia as well as we were growing oil and gas production. The biggest change for operators is that we are now in deepwater, enhanced oil recovery and looking to produce marginal fields. We are in a very complex and challenging environment now … we have some mature assets and we have to look at unconventional methods like enhanced oil recovery in Sabah and Sarawak, and working with PETRONAS Carigali to deploy new technology to get to the remaining oil. As an industry, we need to continue to innovate to help bring down costs and access hard to reach deposits. Another big difference from then is that a lot of our contractors at that time were foreign. Today, we have Sapura Kencana, Petra, Dayang… all capable in installation and hook up and commissioning. While much of the drilling work is still done by foreign companies, a really positive development is that

fabrications that used to be done overseas is now largely done here. This is a significant shift in local capability and capacity since late 90s when traditionally most major fabrications were done regionally. Major fabrication yards in the country include Brooke Dockyard and Engineering Works Corporation in Kuching which was established in 1912, making it the oldest shipyard in Malaysia. It started as a major offshore modules fabricator in 1996. Changes Both my parents passed on this year. But we still keep the family home in my hometown, Kuching. I am really impressed with the development in Sarawak since I have been away, especially in Kuching and Miri where I spend most of my time. My work also takes me to our SMDS plant in Bintulu, and I see the Samalaju area bustling with activities so I can see that SCORE has brought much development That’s a good indication of the positive steps that the Sarawak government is taking but we must all play our part. Thoughts on Talent Development in Sarawak and Strengthening the Line I think that talent development really begins quite early, in the sphere of education which is why we support initiatives with universities, and we sponsor chairs to support the institutions. We also support students in those institutions with scholarships because to produce talent, we need to have strong institutions and we need to have strong student bodies. For those following a vocational path, we support a specialised welding programme in partnership with local schools in Miri and Bintulu. Local students are trained as welders to an international standard. A number of these go on to work for Shell and our suppliers. It is a direct way we can help employment in Sarawak. Shell has established a sustainable development chair with UNIMAS and Petroleum Geosciences chair with UTP; sponsors Project Link which teaches welding courses in vocational schools in Miri and Bin-

tulu; and collaborates on several fronts with Curtin Sarawak in Miri, amongst others. The company has invested RM140million to help more than 2,000 young Malaysians through university in the last 40 years with most scholars coming from Sarawak and Sabah. Once they’re out of university, that’s where we play quite a big role. It really begins with making sure we have a strong business that provides really interesting and challenging jobs for people to grow and develop in. Beyond the job, we need to make sure that we have good supervisors who help staff stretch to the next level in terms in terms of their performance supplemented with training where it’s needed. Part of development includes our ability to provide our staff with international exposure, so that they see how things are to be done to global standards. While I sit at the helm, I rely on a lot of very capable managers and leaders, some exceptional Sarawakians and Sabahans. My view is that talent development is not just doing one thing. First, (as a socially responsible corporation) we must support institutions that deliver talent; then as an employer we must ensure we have the right platform for people to develop and grow and thirdly, we must have leaders who are prepared to spend time and energy to help staff develop and make wise career choices. Shaping Influences I am grateful for my foundation years in Sarawak but I’m fortunate that I also had a British secondary education and an American tertiary education. I was sent to boarding school at an early age – 15 years old. As the only son in a family of 4 siblings, I had everything my way in my childhood. At boarding school, I was just another student and had to learn to get along with others. I fended for myself, and learnt how to be independent quite early. And that’s how I’ve been – very confident in making decisions from a young age, through necessity, and living with the consequences of my decisions.. When I moved to UCLA (in America), I had a bit of a shock because nobody cared about you, not even your faculty. When I arrived, I was expecting to be handed a list of courses. Instead, I was given a booklet and told to choose my own classes. It was good preparation for life. Nobody’s there to hold your hand, figure out where you should go or what to do and nobody tells you what problems to solve. My US education taught me how to define a problem – then find the solution. No one tells you what to do, how to do it or define success for you. You have to do all that yourself and this has helped me in my Shell career. My father was an early shaping influence – I worked as an “apprentice” for him when he was an architect with JKR. He designed the old Dewan Undangan Negeri

building and I was quite proud to return (to this building) during my initial courtesy calls as Chairman of Shell Malaysia and being part of a legacy that has contributed to the state. Leadership As a CEO, you have many things to do. Leaders must decide what you want to intervene on, and once you decide, it is then a matter of how to go about doing it. The objective is to have the most impact on the outcome you’re looking, for without undermining the people whose jobs it is to deliver those results. Leadership is about what you cause other people to do, and what actions to take when you feel that things are not going on track. To keep things on track, you have to find ways to inform yourself how well the business is doing, and how its going to do in the next three or six months. Herein lies the biggest challenge for senior leadership, to have the right kind of information presented to you in the right way to inform you what your future performance will be like. For example, there is no point looking at production data, because this is already produced – it’s historical and an outcome and you cannot change it anymore. But if you look at equipment reliability or maintenance records, this can help you predict the future production to expect. Having the right information in the right format can tell you something about the future. Those things are what you should at look if you are trying to influence the future performance. Personal Interest To be able to perform really well at this level, you need to be physically fit. I tried running, which I really like, but it is hard on the knees so I am looking at cycling as an alternative for keeping fit…. I love golf but you don’t get really fit playing it. Golf is great for the next phase in your life. It is the right level of exercise when you are older, and you can play for a long time. It gives you purpose and it is a wonderful travel opportunity. Every course is different! I really like the camaraderie with fellow golfers, it is quite endearing. I also like the social aspect – your biggest competition is yourself, and the game gives you a whole new language and common passion. It builds passion in you – you end up checking diaries for time to play. But most of all, it is very humbling …it teaches you patience, humility and perseverance and how to overcome periods when you are not doing well. It also challenges you for your entire life. Legacy The strongest legacy I can leave behind for the business is a strong pipeline of future leaders, Malaysian future leaders.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Monday, September 16, 2013


Sabah’s progress and future Malaysia should practise fairness, equality — Ho


USTOMERS who step into Sen Chong Wah on Gaya Street will find themselves brought back in time as the walls are plastered with pictures of Jesselton and old newspaper articles offering glimpses of the past. Sen Chong Wah itself also has a long history as it was opened shortly after the Second World War. “Sometimes when you were lucky, you could see wild boars swimming from Pulau Gaya to Api-Api during low tide in search of clams,” said Ho Kwan Hing, 65, owner of Sen Chong Wah. According to Ho, the original name of Kota Kinabalu - Api-Api - came about in 1910 when villagers

at Pulau Gaya saw the attap shops on the mainland on fire and yelled “Api! Api!” (fire). As he explained the history behind the old pictures, he lamented that “It used to be safe in Kota Kinabalu. Back in the 70s we did not need to lock our doors when we went to sleep, now we fear thieves and burglars.” Looking back at the amount of progress yet to be achieved since Sept 16, 1963, Ho called for fairness and equality across all races and states. Ho said Sabah had contributed hundreds of millions to the nation in natural resources, but the lion’s share of the money had gone to de-

veloping West Malaysia. Ho also aired his grievances on the ‘M Project’, legalising of illegal immigrants and added that the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) was not distributed fairly. “My wife’s grandma is a Dusun in Kudat, but even she did not get BR1M.” Ho pointed out that the government should be fair to all races, as the Chinese have contributed tremendously to the economy. “We want fairness and impartiality, can we achieve that?” Ho added that National Day on Aug 31 should be done away with and Sept 16 acknowledged as Malaysia’s Independence Day.

GOOD OLD DAYS: Photos of the Kota Kinabalu community centre back in 1958 (top) and 1960s.

REFERENCES TO THE PAST: Ho (right) and his wife pose for a photo with the old pictures and newspaper articles.

Sabah has undergone rapid growth — SUCCC chief S

Gan Sau Wah

ABAH’S development has grown in leaps and bounds since Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to form Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963. Sabah United Chinese Chambers of Commerce (SUCCC) president Datuk Seri Panglima Gan Sau Wah JP, born in 1936, was 27 years-old when the Federation of Malaysia was formed. He recalled that Sabah had been very backward in terms of infrastructure prior to the formation of Malaysia, and the population back then was only in the hundreds of thousands. “The people at that time were honest, and life was simple,” he

said. Gan’s hometown, Semporna, was a fishing village 50 years ago. Most of the bumiputeras living in Semporna were Bajaus, the majority of them fishermen. “There were only around 1,000 Chinese in Semporna 50 years ago. The local Chinese mostly did business in seafood or local-products.” To determine if the people supported the proposed Federation of Malaysia, the Cobbold Commission was established for North Borneo (now Sabah) and Sarawak. Gan recalled that the majority of the people agreed to the pro-

posal because Sabah and Malaya were similar in terms of language and culture, in addition to wanting political stability. Most of the Chinese community were also in favour of the proposal and considered Malaysia as the most suitable option, he said. “The Chinese community agreed to the proposal because our neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and Philippines regarded the Chinese differently; and we had felt insecure in many aspects. “So we felt that the federation was the most suitable option.” There was not much celebration in Semporna when the formation

of Malaysia was declared on September 16, 1963. Nonetheless, Gan remarked that Semporna has seen rapid growth over the past 10 years under the Barisan Nasional (BN) government. Sabah as a state has also boomed in terms of population and developments, as well as in West Malaysia where development and infrastructure have reached international standards. On the future of Sabah, Gan said tourism development would be vital while oil palm plantation and property development were also important industries to look into.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Mirians reflect upon their childhoods By Cecilia Sman

Dealing with constant change


IRI City, like most cities or towns in Malaysia have enjoyed a rich history before and after Malaysia was formed on Sept 16, 1963. Rebuilt after massive damage from World War II, Miri grew steadily into a city and was given city status on May 20, 2005, making it the second city in Sarawak after Kuching and the nation’s only non-capital city. This unique and accelerated transformation was achieved within 50 years of nationhood although the discovery of oil in 1910 played an great part in its rapid development before the Allied Forces and Japanese destroyed almost everything in World War II. The Borneo Post interviewed five Mirians about their childhoods. They are unsung heroes in their own rights: Datuk Ursula Goh, 76, former World President of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) and a member of the Sarawak Federation of Women Institutes (SFWI); Lim Song Yu, 82, entrepreneur and former temenggong; Datin Judy Wan Morshidi, 73, a renowned social worker; Jimmy Nyahen, 65, Kampong Bidayuh village headman and retired personnel of the General Operation Force (formerly Police Field Force); and Lian Pasan, 46, Public Relation and Communications Manager of Miri Marriott Resort & Spa. Early memory of the events leading to the formation of Malaysia Besides constant news over the radio and from the press, representatives from government and political parties including Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) were said to have come to inform the people about the formation of Malaysia. Although it was generally supported by the people, many protested believing it was just another form of colonisation. Ursula said that those in the Women Institute had talked about it and exchanged opinions adding that, “Personally, and earnestly I was rather anxious and quite curious about what was going to happen then. As far as I remember there was no sign of opposition.” For Lim: “The response of my family and neighbors was still very slow even in Miri.” Judy recalled how a street riot by certain groups - mostly young people - broke out during the Cobbold Commission visit to Miri in 1962 in opposition to the proposal. “There were injuries and I was on First Aid duty with two other Red Cross members led by the nursing superintendent, Mrs Maureen Dyson, wife of a Shell doctor. We treated a gunshot wound, a broken bottle neck embedded in somebody’s forehead besides other minor injuries. “The Cobbold Commission reported that the majority of the people of Sarawak and Sabah were in favour of the proposal.” Jimmy remembered how three from his kampung and several from other villages who opposed the federation were recruited by communists and trained in Indonesia. Some were killed but all three from his village were caught and imprisoned in Padungan. “There was a protest by some of our villagers to both ideas but later the Bidayuh and other bumiputera communities supported the formation of Malaysia because our leaders, like Tun Jugah supported the idea,” said Jimmy who later joined the PFF to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty against communist insurgency and other threats. Celebrating the formation of Malaysia Mirians joined the nation in celebrating the formation of Malaysia on Sept 16, with parades and film shows in various places to disseminate information on the new coun-

TURMOIL: The protests that turned into a riot in Miri with policemen trying to keep order. — Photo by Sarawak Museum.

try. “There were great celebrations all over including Miri. Everyone was excited. I can still remember how Malaysia Day was celebrated every year with floats and lantern processions in Miri with government departments, schools, and NGOs taking part,” said Ursula. Both Lim and Judy remembered the parade in Miri in front of the Resident and District Offices. “There were rallies with the singing of ‘Berjaya’, and ‘Muhibbah’, speeches by leaders pledging to bring development to benefit the people. Prior to the actual rallies, all contingents were busy practicing the song with great anticipation with hopes of a better future.” Changes since 1963 They all agreed that although there was so much change in their hometowns since their childhoods, most changes were for the better. “Like other parts of the country, development has captured and changed our hometowns. These changes, of course, are towards the betterment of living conditions and lives of the people,” said Ursula who hails from Penampang, Sabah. She moved to Miri in 1954 after marrying the late John Goh, a former Sarawak Shell employee, where they lived in Lutong Shell House. Lim, a migrant from China in 1938 said life in Miri, especially during the Japanese occupation between 1941–1945, was miserable with a lot of hardship as food was scarce and public amenities were minimal. “Miri town was still an old wooden bazaar with little vehicular traffic except a few motorised trucks and an old vintage vehicle owned by Sarawak Shell Oilfield Company Ltd manager, senior staff and the local businessmen.” Since the formation of Malaysia, however, there has been accelerated development, enabling them to enjoy better lives today. Judy agreed that life now was far more comfortable than in Malaysia’s early formative years. “There used to be just small houses scattered sporadically in Lutong, but there are now estates with big and beautiful residential houses and a rapidly increasing number of shophouses. There is even a big modern shopping complex. “The younger generation just cannot fathom the simple and hard lives of their grandparents who mostly made do with very simple and basic facilities,” said Judy, who is the vice chairman of the Miri Chapter of the Malaysian Red Crescent (MRC). For Jimmy and Lian, both from very remote areas like Tebedu and Bario respectively, they have had their fair share of hard living even in the early years of Malaysia’s formation.

Having to travel to the nearest town for weeks and even up to one month, jungle trekking, traveling by boat and by bus in later years was something they had to endure. “There was only one bus service from Tebedu to Serian town and if we didn’t catch the 2pm return trip, we had to stay overnight in Serian. Today, the road network is better, tar-sealed and there is also a secondary school in Tebedu,” said Jimmy. According to Lian in those days, when there was neither air nor road access, one had to walk on foot across the mountainous highland terrain for days to make it to the nearest stopover along the Baram river tributaries and then days to Marudi. “A one-way journey from Bario to Marudi would take about one week and the return journey would take another week. The whole to-and-fro journey would take about three weeks considering the number of days spent in Marudi. Besides being connected by air, now things have changed a lot with having the all-weather road. Indeed, it is a dream come true as Bario is no longer dubbed ‘The Lost World’. These two choices of transportation have changed Bario socially and economically now that they are able to transport commercial goods such as Bario rice, pineapples and mountain salt along with household supplies and building materials in and out of Bario. Favourite childhood memories Topping the list of childhood memories they feel their grandchildren may never enjoy were carefree childhoods, simple recreational activities, in a peaceful and safe environment, although life was hard and unbearable sometimes. “Living in my hometown has given me lots of fond memories which our children have never experienced: bathing in the river, wading in the water to get to the other side, walking long distances as there were no cars, going out to

fetch firewood for cooking,” said Ursula. Judy proudly said: “We had carefree school days with children cycling to school from Lutong to Pujut and Miri. There was hardly any traffic on the very few roads.” Recreation was simple. “We enjoyed free film shows at the open air cinema provided by Shell. At night, my father delighted and enthralled us with very interesting stories that we looked forward to very much!” According to Lian, “There are lots of things that modern day children never get to do, like making toys from wood and bamboo to replicate an aeroplane, car, bicycle or motor bike. We were very creative with our toy modeling but there were times we could not replicate the actual object,” adding that they would try other options which still amazed them. Both Lim and Jimmy remembered the hard life of earlier years where education was inaccessible in Miri. “I had to travel by coastal steamers to Kuching to have my secondary education up to Senior Cambridge Level (Form 5),” said Lim. “When I first came to Miri, most schools were full and we had to send our kids to St Joseph and St Columba Secondary Schools. Now we have many secondary and primary schools, and even Curtin University and Teachers college, ILP, IKBN and several other private colleges,” Jimmy said. While Lian’s old longhouse has been demolished and replaced by a modern longhouse, he recalls the activities and games they used to do, like playing hide-and-seek in the bushes or in the longhouse where some would hide on the roof or in somebody’s private room, swimming in the river and spending hours playing games on the sand by the river bank or hunting birds with a blowpipe. “Today, most children spend almost all their times with electronic toys or computer games.”

Historical buildings and sites topped the list of places and buildings they wished were still around. Many have since been demolished to pave way for modernisation and expansion. Among them were the Long Jetty, Shell quarters, the Lutong Recreation club and the Gymkhana Club Miri field. “We need to preserve what is left like the Grand Old Lady (Well No 1), the resident and district offices and the stretch of good beaches of Tanjong Lobang. It was a pity that a lot of green space in Miri like GCM Padang, the Long Jetty of Peninsular, and beautiful old government bungalows were destroyed to make way for social urban development,” said Lim. “The Tanjung Lobang beach where we used to have picnics, climbing the rocks and frolicking in the beautiful sea and games on the sandy shore or resting under the Casuarina trees is not easily accessible now,” lamented Judy whose opinion was shared by Lim and Jimmy. They called for further development of Tanjung Lobang and Taman Selera for public recreational activities instead of commercial purposes. Advantages of growing up in early Malaysia “The whole community where I lived in Lutong was made up of Shell employees, and even at that time it has been a multi-racial society, where the people are friendly, and everyone knew almost everyone. I miss that friendly atmosphere,” said Ursula. “The older generation was very resilient and obedient compared to the younger generation who have comforts, with some taking life for granted. When I went to secondary school, my parents only gave me RM4 per month including RM3.60 for bus fare to and from Tebedu and Serian,” Jimmy revealed. “It was safe for us kids to walk, run and cycle - anything we fancied. We enjoyed plenty of cheap outdoor games. Our toys were mostly homemade from material easily available around us. Nowadays, kids are mostly at home or in their own rooms glued to their costly hi-tech gadgets. Not a very healthy pastime for them,” said Judy whose opinion was strongly supported by Lim, Lian and Jimmy. Lian said: “Growing up the hard way with the very basic things compared to today’s children who have access to almost anything made me more independent and socially mature compared to today’s kids,” said Lian recalling how he was surrounded with lots of aunties and uncles with elongated ear lobes and traditional tattoos on their legs and arms. What hasn’t changed in Sarawak According to Ursula, the people continued to live in peace, unity and harmony despite the increasing complexities in their society. “The whole community is as loving and caring as ever and also

DEDICATED: Judy (fourth left) as a young Voluntary Aid Detachment of the then Red Cross.

Jimmy Nyahen

Lian Pasan

shares the joy of celebrations and festivals together. Whenever disasters strike, people offer help without hesitation. Many would drop by Red Crescent to offer help with donation of cash and kind. How I love the beautiful traits of our people,” said Judy. To Lian, what prevails is the spirit and pride of being Sarawakians who still keep to their roots and sense of belonging. “The respect between different races and beliefs, living in peace and harmony together makes Sarawak a better place to live. I must say, Sarawakians are one of the most hospitable and friendliest people in Malaysia.” Wishes for Sarawak for the next 50 years? “Sarawak will continue to develop towards greater heights in general. Its people continue to embrace friendship, understanding and respect towards one another, and live in unity, peace and harmony,” said Ursula. “We should continue to have a stable government, a variable economy, education and other opportunity for all races. The people of Sarawak should enjoy a happy and peaceful life,” said Lim. “I would like our country to be stable politically, economically and progress steadily. Practice of meritocracy and transparency, good governance should be practiced at all levels of government,” said Judy. “I wish for Sarawak to become a more developed state not just economically but socially. The people are learning from our past mistakes in order to continue going forward. I would love to see better quality roads or highways to connect Kuching on one end to Miri and beyond to the other end of Sarawak,’ said Lian. “My wish for Sarawak over the next 50 years is for all NCR land to be surveyed and given titles and that Malaysia achieves the status of a developed and high income nation,” said Jimmy. “My vision for the next 50 years is the people of Malaysia to be fairly treated by the federal government. The federal government should concentrate its development on the poor states like Sarawak, Sabah, Kelantan and Terengganu,” Lim recommended.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013



ISLAND ROAD: The road is one of the two names that serves as a remainder that Sibu town once sat on an island. Picture shows the old Fu Yuan Church. Bigger church has been built together with Hoover Square today.

SACRED HEART CHURCH: The church was pulled down together with the wooden Sacred heart Kindergarten in the 1980s for its cathedral. Wisma Catholic stands at the wooden kindergarten site now Wisma Catholic.

THE GOVERNMENT BUILDING: This building in front of the Law King Howe Hospital. Only a portion of the hospital is retained today.

WHEN CATHAY THEATRE WAS BUILT: Development of the town spread from Channel Road to Ramin Way in the 50s.

THE OLD MOSQUE: In the early days, the house of prayer was linked with a bridge to Kampung Datu. The site of the bridge is today at a heavy traffic interception point.



hen WE are talk about transformations of towns in Sarawak from the White Rajah era to the Formation of the Federation of Malaysia, Sibu is one that has gone through a total change. Not many written records have been kept, but from stories handed down by the elders, this piece of precious history tells of the struggle, motivation and courage of Sibu’s forefathers when people of various ethnic communities toiled under the sun to bring about this great transformation. Unbeknownst to younger generations, Sibu began as a settlement on two island, as the town developed and progressed, this piece of history got buried when a part of the Lembangan River was reclaimed. Today, Sibu is a town on one vast land. The two islands have vanished; the only hint of the town once sitting on the islands remains in two names – Island Road and Island Club the latter being a recreational club for British government officers in the Brooke era.

Penghulu Soon Choon Hoo said when he was a kid, he moved around these islands and rowed sampans in the Lembangang and Rajang Rivers that surrounded the islands. “There were two islands near the bank of the Rajang River – Pulau Babi and Sibu Island – cut off from the ‘mainland’ by Lembangan River. Lembangang River ran from the now floodgate at Sibu Central Market, cutting through behind Palace Theatre, to its other mouth at Sibu Town Square Phase II.” In the early days, he said Sibu town sat on this island, with concrete commercial buildings that mushroomed after the 1928 Great Fire that wiped out the only row of wood and attap shops at Channel Road the 1950s, the present physical shape of Sibu was formed which has been preserved until today. Soon, who is also the chairman of Sibu Tua Pek Kong Temple, said the mainland consisted of Tiong Hua Road and Foochow Lane. He said Pulau Babi (Now Khoo Pheng Loong Road), a smaller island separated

by Lembangan River, was a stone’s throw away from Channel Road and was so named because of a pig slaughter house there. “Between Sibu Island and Pulau Babi was a pocket of land built up by siltation but this plot on Lembangan River was not significant enough to be called the third island of Sibu.” He said Sibu was such a small settlement that it was administered by the Brooke government from Kanowit. “The administration centre was moved to Sibu in 1859 when the settlement grew significantly.” Soon said Sibu grew because the early Chinese immigrants made up mostly of the Hokkien clan while some from the Teochew Clan settled here with the other ethnic groups in the 19th century. He said the Foochow, Heng Hua and Cantonese settlers arrived in the early 20th century, and from a sleepy fishing village 150 years ago, Sibu has transformed into the bustling commercial hub of Sarawak today. “In the beginning, the Chinese concentrated their business activities at Channel

Road while the kampung houses were dotted around the island.” A historical record says the Lembangan River surrounding Sibu Island 150 years ago was deep enough for a Chinese junk to sail through in high tide. Soon gave interesting references to show the characteristic of modern Sibu in its development process. He said the roads were named according to the town’s occupational activities and its geographical factor. “Why do we call the road beside Lembangan River Channel Road? It’s because of the water channel that runs parallel to it. Today, much of the waterway has been covered up by Sibu Central Market.” Soon gave references to the other roads named after the occupational jobs of the early settlers on the island: Workshop Road (where all metal household and agricultural tools were made), Mission Road (named after the two missionary schools – Sacred Heart School and St. Elizabeth’s School both which have been relocated to Oya Road), Blacksmith Road (after the smiths who forged and shaped iron),

Market Road (after the wet market that was pulled down), Island Road (after Sibu Island), Central Road (indicating the central position of Sibu Central’s business district), Kampung Nyabor Road (where stilt houses were built) and Cross Road (for cutting across Central Road and Market Road). He said by the 1950s, land was reclaimed to expand the town to Tiong Hua Road and beyond, and the two islands vanished. “Only the two mouths of Lembangang River are now visible – at the Central market floodgate and Sibu Town Square Phase II. The middle portion behind Palace Theatre has been reclaimed.” He said other roads were also named to indicate the concentration of the ethnic community settlement – Amoy Road, Foochow Lane and Guongdong Road. As the Hokkien clan arrived first together with some Teochew, the central business centre was dominated by them first. “Hokkien was the dialect spoken in the central business district. The Foochows concentrated in settlements from Sungai Merah to the downstream villages to set up

the rubber plantations; these villages were called the Foochow settlement. “The Guongdong settlement was found upstream in Salim, the Henghua in Sungei Merah and the Malays and Melanaus in Kampung Nyabor and Kampung Dato.” He said although the different ethnic groups were scattered accordingly, the pride of Sibu townsfolk remained and they lived harmoniously. There was also a concentration of occupations in the early days too. The Hainanese opened coffee shops; the Hokkiens and the Teochew grocery stores, the Heng Hua bicycle repair shops, the Foochows rubber plantations, the Cantonese and the Hakka tailor shops. “In 1956, Pulau Babi Bridge was built to link Sibu Island and Khoo Pheng Loong Road. As modern infrastructures sprouted, Tun Abang Haji Openg Road (named Queensway, then) was called ‘Electrical Wire Road’ in Chinese because of the power line there and the court house ‘The Glass House’ because of the glass in its front portion.” He said modern development also

GONE IS THE KAMPUNG: The original face of Kampung Nyabor at the current Tanahmas commercial area. The only feature that can still be seen is the fire station in the background.

early days.

SIBU ISLAND: The last days of the island before it was reclaimed in the 1950s. Note the Lembangang River cutting through behind Palace Theatre before heading to its other river mouth at Sibu Town Square II. This river separates Sibu from the mainland.

A TALE OF TWO ISLANDS: The picture shows Sibu Island at the forefront and Pulau Babi in the background.

THE FIRST MISSION SCHOOL IN SIBU: Sacred Heart School was built in 1901. The school has today been relocated to Oya Road. Picture shows its old concrete block at Mission Road.

brought in four cinema Rex Theatre was the first one built, followed by Lido Theatre, Palace Theatre and Cathay Theatre. “Three other theatres were built much later - King Hua Theatre in 1969, Rejang Theatre in Sungei Merah and King’s Theatre in the mid-70s and Zennith Mint Theatre in Rejang Park in the SACRED HEART PRIMARY SCHOOL: In the early days, this wooden block also housed the borders. late 70s.” Although the two islands have vanished, life moves on and the town continues to flourish. Soon said even in the modern era, reclamation of land continued, like Pulau Li Hua where a residential area was built on the man-made island in the stream and a part of Sibu Town Sqaure Phase II, where luxurious condominiums and shops are rising from Igan River. “Sibu will continue to grow. Despite that, its fine characteristics in the friendship and warm hospitality of the townsfolk will remain. This will be the grace and soul landmark of Sibu. Happy birthday, Malaysia. This is the birthday gift of Sibu folks to the nation in developTHE WATER CHANNEL: Cargo boats carry goods up Lembangan River beside Channel Road in the ment.”

REX THEATRE: The first cinema house of Sibu at Cross Road. Note the jungle behind. Ramin Way and Wong Nai Siong Road were not built yet.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Reflections of a former Aide de Camp

MOMENTOUS: Alli (standing, second right) witnessed the signing of MOU between the Sarawak government and PARAKU led by Abdul Rahman and Bong at what became known as Sri Aman.

By Wilfred Pilo


N 1961, at the age of 27 years old Dato Sri Alli Kawi was promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Police. Two years later, in April 1963, he was appointed Assistant Commandant Police Training School (the present site of the Dewan Undangan Negeri) which was within walking distance of the Astana Negeri. Based on his good service record and by virtue of his past experience as assistant commandant, Alli was later appointed as Aide de Camp (ADC) to Sir Alexander Waddell, the last British Governor to Sarawak. Alli spoke to The Borneo Post of his experience with the policemen and the police department in those bygone days and what it was like being the ADC for Waddell as well as the first governor of Sarawak within Malaysia Tun Abang Haji Openg. The Sarawak Constabulary Describing the police department at that time, Alli said that it was small and moderate in size and when he joined the Sarawak Constabulary, it had less than 1,000 men compared to the present establishment. “Despite the small numbers those days we could see the policemen on the street on beat duty. For the whole of Kuching we had almost a dozen traffic policemen and headed by the late Sergeant-Major Arjan Singh or popularly known as Sergeant-Major “20” and the late Sgt Lambert,” he said, enthusing on their hard working attitudes as men in uniform. He recalled how those two policemen could be seen everywhere in Kuching Town chasing after traffic offenders. “The discipline and efficiency of the police at that point in time were excellent,” he said. “We never heard of corruption among the police and the civil servants and there was no anti-corruption department established. “If there was any, it would have been investigated by the police. We were taught that ‘Honesty is the Best Policy’,” he recalled. As ADC to Waddell, Alli’s role was to ensure the governor’s personal safety and security. He accompanied him on various official functions and was instructed on proper protocol. “As ADC, I learnt a lot of things on protocol, proper attire or dress code for every occasions, table manners, etiquette, proper manners in looking after the guests and the way you address and speak to people. “Before that I knew very little about these,” he said, looking back at his youth.

OLD TIMES: Alli (left) at the drill shed at the Police Training Centre in Kuala Lumpur with the CPO of Federal Territories at the time Datuk Mansor Mohd Noor, (now a ‘Tan Sri’).

Alli described the English governor as very polite, kind and considerate and that his Excellency’s wife was a very elegant lady - poised and very pleasant. “I had the privilege to invite them to dinner as my guests when they came here at the invitation of the state government on the 25th Anniversary of Malaysia Day.” Being the ADC to the last British Governor, it became a natural progression that he would be appointed to the Sarawakian Governor. “I learnt a lot from the colonial governor which made my job easier as ADC to Tun Openg,” he said. He was very honoured and was full of pride as he led the last parade for the British governor of Sarawak past the Old Court House on Sept 15, 1963. Alli described the late Tun

Openg as a very unassuming man, very jovial and a great joy to have worked with. “He never really looked at me as an ADC, more of an ‘anak’ to him and he always addressed younger people as ‘anakanda’” Alli disclosed that he was the only ADC for the late Tun Openg, as in 1964, he was appointed to be the first local Divisional Superintendent of Limbang. Colourful Career in Blue Serving in post-colonial Sarawak and the new nation Malaysia, Alli had a colourful career in the police force. In 1967, he was sent to attend a senior police officer’s course at the Australian Police College in Manly, New South Wales. The following year in 1968, he received

CEREMONY: The last British Governor Sir Alexander Waddell (third left) inspecting police personnel while Alli (second right) and colonial police officers look on.

a federal scholarship to read law in Middle Temple, London. “I am the first and the only serving police officer to receive this scholarship and qualified as a barrister-at-law in November 1971,” he said. Upon his return from law study, he became head of Sarawak crime branch and in his book ‘It Has Been Worth The Pain’, he described how in his capacity as head of crime branch, he saved Peter Lingan from being charged for culpable homicide for shooting and killing an Iban communist when the latter, armed with a knife, tried to

FULL OF PRIDE: Alli in his capacity as ADC leading the farewell parade for Waddell past the Old Court House in Kuching.

kill another army officer. In early 1973, he became head of Sarawak Special Branch, the first local officer appointed to this post at the height of the communist insurgency in Sarawak. In October that same year as head of the Special Branch, he was appointed the main negotiator in the peace talks between the federal government headed by then Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk (later ‘Tun’) Abdul Rahman Ya’akub and Bong Kee Chok, the Director and Political Commissar Pasukan Rakyat Kalimantan Utara (PARAKU), an armed communist organisation operating in the jungles of Sarawak. “As the main negotiator, I never allowed the two parties to meet until all terms raised had been agreed by both sides,” he said. Through wit, wisdom, friendly approaches and convincing persuasion, Alli succeeded in persuading Bong and his comrades to agree resulting in the signing of ‘The Memorandum Of Understanding’ on Oct 20, 1973. “This ended the communist atrocities in Sarawak whereby more than 500 armed communists came out of the Sarawak jungle, surrendered their weapons and returned to society,” he said. This success was unprecedented and unparalleled in any part of the world against communist insurgence. Thereafter, peace and tranquility was achieved and Sarawak development proceeded. In 1975, Alli was promoted to Deputy Commissioner Sarawak Component and in 1976 he was appointed Deputy Director of Management at Bukit Aman. After serving for about 24 years,

PORTRAIT: Alli was the first policeman to receive a federal scholarship to read law in Middle Temple, London.

he resigned in January 1978 to go into politics and private practice as a lawyer. He is married to Datin Sri Fatimah Jamil and they have three sons (one passed away in 1980) and a daughter, a radiologist at University Malaya. Alli has written three books: ‘It Has Been Worth The Pain’, ‘Ming Court Crisis: A Close And Intimate Knowledge Of The Crisis Behind The Scene’ and ‘Police Power under Malaysian Law’.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Corporal John Remek Nyongyn

TRAGIC DAY: Fellow Sarawak Constabulary bearing Cpl John’s casket to the burial ground at St Stephen Catholic Church.

For those who have been forgotten

IN RESPECT: A gun salute by fellow Sarawak Constabulary after laying Cpl John to rest at St Stephen Catholic Church Cemetery.

By Wilfred Pilo

I NOTE IN HISTORY: Newspaper cutting reporting the burial of Sarawak Constabulary John Remek attended by senior police officers.

N the early 60s, South East Asia was racked with political and economic conflict: the commencement of the Vietnam War, insurgence of communist ideology, the threat of another atom bomb by the US to end Vietnam War and the birth of new nations. On our own doorstep were the Sarawak Communist Organisation (SCO) guerillas who would fight alongside the Brunei rebels and Indonesians during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation (1963-1966). The tragedy

MARKS THAT SURPASS TIME: Bullet marks in the belian post near where Cpl John was shot.

WHAT REMAINS: Bullet hole still visible on the main gate.

Around 2am on Apr 12, 1963, when Christians were looking forward to commemorating Good Friday, 30-year-old Cpl John Remek Nyongyn on duty at the Tebedu Police station lost his life when he was shot at point blank range by intruders who snuck into the compound through an exposed drain. Even in the final moments of his life, he considered the safety of his wife and children, breathing his last as he crawled back to them to warn of them of danger. Recollecting what his mother told him, Peter John Remek, a school teacher, said that his father managed to shout to his mother inside their barrack house to stay inside and not come out. “My mother obeyed, keeping us silent so as not alert the intruders. After she thought it was safe, she came out and saw my father sprawled in a pool of blood just outside our barracks,” said Peter to The Borneo Post. “She said that my father managed to touch the door knob but died without having a word for us.” Had Cpl John survived the onslaught and retaliated successfully against the rebels, he may have been awarded a badge for his bravery, but his tragic death simply became page 8 news in The Tribune on Apr 20, 1963. “The fact remains that till this day a policeman was shot, killed and left us, silent and forgotten by the country he served.”

TODAY: The Tebedu Police station now being used the General Operation Forces.

HAPPY DAYS: Cpl John (second right) with his fellow constabulary taken in front of the Tebedu Police Station.

Early life The late John who hailed from Kampung Suba in Bau had his early education at Grogo Primary school before the Japanese occupation. Trained at the Police Training Centre at Siol Kandis, he became part of the Sarawak Constabulary in the early 1950s and after became a trainer himself at the training center. “My father believed in the importance of education so he went to night school when he was a young policeman at Bukit Siol Police Training Centre to enhance his knowledge and to gain better recognition in his job,” said Peter. He married Dohing Sator in 1954 and they had four children together. John requested for a transfer to Tebedu and served at the Tebedu Police station situated within vicinity of the Sarawak –Indonesian Border. Peter added that he and his late twin brother Paul were only six years old when the tragedy happened while his younger brothers Michael was three and Simon 10 months. “My father served the Sarawak Constabulary for 12 years, 4 months and 12 days before he was shot and the next day he was buried with full military honours at the Catholic Cemetery in Bau,” lamented Peter.

After the tragedy A few days before the formation of Malaysia on Sept 2, John’s widow Dohing was featured on the front page of the local English daily. “She and the four of us met the UN mission representative seeking Indonesia for compensation for the death of my father.” In tears, she pleaded that her husband’s case be further investigated by the UN Mission. While the headlines “Why Did They Kill My Husband?” Widow (In tears) asks UN Mission.” and “He has done No Harm or Wrong to Any Indonesians” made for emotional front page news, nothing concrete came out of the meeting. “My mother wrote to the authorities in the 1980s but was told that my father was Sarawak Constabulary which was not absorbed into Malaysia Royal Police so my father could not be entitled to such a privilege.” Life after was a constant struggle for Dohing as she was only given a derivative pension by the government amounting to $60 (Sarawak Dollars). Peter said that they never received any form of financial assistance from the government and after they reached 18 years of age the pension became less. “To ensure that we survived the hardship, my mother remarried and my step-father helped us until we were independent. “Both I and Paul became teachers, my brother Michael is with the Inland Revenue and Simon

became insurance agent.” Peter revealed that his mother died in 1982 at 47 years old and the family had been very quiet on his father’s sacrifice for the nation. On Malaysia Day’s Golden Anniversary, Peter said that he decided to share his grief with the rest of Malaysia on the lives of those in uniform and on duty and yet had received no token let alone recognition.

HONOUR IN DEATH: The Commissioner of Sarawak Constabulary PE Turnbull paying his last respects to John at his funeral.

Looking back After more than half a century, the police station is now being used by the General Operation Forces (GOF) but the remnants of that fateful night remain: two bullet holes in the iron gate of the main entrance are still visible along with the splintered belian post at the main office. The drainage opening where the perpetrators entered is still there, while the living quarters for the Officer in Charge - although in a depleted stage - still stands. “My families do not want recognition but just want to share a sad but brave story of man – a loving father and a cop who was the victim of circumstances and uncertainty in the birth of a nation. “We hoped that the blood he spilled during his untimely death at Tebedu Police station represented not only his blood but also the blood of other brave men who fought and died for our country whether their story was told or not.”

OF THE PAST: Peter holds a newspaper clipping of his father’s tragedy while standing at the door to their old barracks where their family used to live at Tebedu Police Station.

STILL HERE: Although at a depleted stage, the old quarters where the officer-in-charge used to live is still in existence.

Monday, September 16, 2013

E18 ATTENTION: Police personnel marching before starting their duty. In the rear is the Tawau Police Barrack Building.

Former officer recalls Indonesian confrontation By Johan Aziz


HE attack at the Kalabakan police station in Tawau, the arrest of two Indonesian commandos in Komondo Kop Operations (KKO), and the Malaysian flag-raising ceremony at midnight in 1963 are three important events not forgotten by former police officer, Inspector Thomas Anggan. “All of these events are still fresh in my memory although I have long retired from the police force. “December 29 and 30, 1963, are memorable days in the history of my life while working in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the Tawau district police headquarters. “I was at that time working as a detective and was told to go to investigate an incident together with Constable Ongkas Nuing and several other detectives,” he said. Thomas, who is also the state deputy chairman of the Malaysian Ex-Police Association, said an attack was launched two times at 8.45 pm on December 29, 1963 on the Malaya army camp of the Third Battalion Malay Regiment by about 100 North Kalimantan National Army (TNKU) members. He said the second attack was launched by TNKU members on December 30, 1963 at about 2.10 am. In the attack, an officer and seven soldiers from the Third Battalion Malay Regiment were killed and 19 others serious-

AMMO: Hand grenades, bullets, magazines and AK47-type weapons were among the ordnance seized from a jongkong (boat) in Tawau before the end of the Indonesian confrontation.

ly injured while one civilian was killed and five others seriously injured. No police personnel at the Kalabakan Police Station on duty were killed or wounded. The policemen on duty during that time were Cpl Anggang Kumpit as Officer-In-Charge of the station, Constable Dominic Munting, Constable Matusin Haji Awang Tengah, Constable David Jailin Kitingan, Constable Adimin Hamid, Constable Idang and Constable Gregory from Keningau, Tenom, Tambunan, Ranau and Kepayan. Thomas said the incident took place following the announcement by the then Prime Minister of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman in his speech in Singapore on May 27, 1960 which proposed the establishment of political ties with Singapore, North Borneo (Sabah), Sarawak and Brunei to form the Federation of Malaysia. He said Indonesian President Sukarno disagreed with the proposal made by Tunku Abdul Rahman as North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei were on Borneo island with Indonesia’s Kalimantan (North Kalimantan) which could unite Borneo. In 1963, the outbreak of the Indonesia confrontation with Malaysia continued as Indonesia was unhappy with the proposed Federation of Malaysia which began in early 1962. Thomas said since it was launched by Indonesia, the Commonwealth forces from Australia, and New Zealand, led

by British troops arrived in North Borneo and joined by the Third Battalion Malay Regiment in Tawau. The British Army comprised mostly of the Gurkha Regiment. The Indonesian military offensive was known as the TNKU. North Borneo became independent on Aug 31, 1963 from Britain. The formation of Malaysia took place on September 16, 1963. He said military operations were launched by the joint Commonwealth Army and Malaya to track insurgents from Indonesia, especially in Tawau. Commonwealth military warships carried out operations at sea bordering the Philippines and Indonesia’s Sulawesi Sea. Similarly, Commonwealth fighter jets were also deployed. “There were bitter-sweet memories during the confrontation. The Singapore Infantry Regiment participated in the defence of Malaysia. The confrontation ended in 1966 after a peace agreement was signed in June 1966 in Bangkok Thailand, by the then Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Abdul Razak and Indonesian Vice-President Tun Adam Malik,” he said. “Another event that I do not forget was that at exactly midnight in 1963, Malaysia’s flag was raised by a member of the Royal Malay Regiment while the British Union Jack was lowered. “This was a historic day where for the first time the Malaysian flag was raised while the Union Jack was lowered.

“At that time I was working under Tawau District Police chief ASP JB Meyer, assistant OCS Inspector Michael Manjaji and Commanding Division Superintendent JA Westlake,” he said. Thomas continued that along with Constable Ongkas Nuing, Police Field Force member Juin Samuoi were directed to investigate a bomb explosion at Kuhara Road Tawau. During the explosion, no one was injured and all debris from the blast affected the coconut trees. He also received a report of two Indonesian commandos (KKO) found helpless, and together with PC Jair and Ongkas, arrested and brought them to the police station for further investigation and action. “After that, I led a team to inspect the place of the two members of the KKO where we found explosives. “The police also received information that a ‘Jongkong’ boat carrying weapons and ammunition and owned by an Indonesian Army Lieutenant was detained at the Tawau Customs in June, 1966. This incident happened before the end of the confrontation,” he said. Thomas said the police arrested the people in the boat and seized, among others, hand grenades, bullets and AK 47 type weapons.

Thomas Anggan.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Rumah Besar and the formation of Malaysia By Johan Aziz


UMAH Besar OKK (Orang Kaya-Kaya) Sedomon Datuk Seri Panglima bin OKK Gunsanad, located in Bingkor, Keningau is a family heritage with a valuable history. The house was where the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein met OKK Sedomon in 1963 when he visited Keningau to explain the proposed formation of Malaysia to the leaders of the local communities in Keningau, Tambunan, Pensiangan, Nabawan, Sook, Ranau and Tenom. Rumah Besar is considered by the Bingkor people, especially among the Gana and Kwijau ethnic groups, a rare treasure today. The secret of Rumah Besar was unraveled in the presence of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who described it as meaningful in the formation of Malaysia. He also said it was a miracle for him as this was the first time that he had lost touch with the real world because he succeeded in trailing his father, Tun Abdul Razak’s tracks to where he convinced OKK Sedomon to agree to the proposed formation of Malaysia. He was tracking his father’s footsteps when he visited Rumah Besar on June 17 last year in conjunction with the Kina and Gong family gatherings and Harvest Festival. Explaining the importance of his visit to Rumah Besar, the Prime Minister said: “I went to OKK Sedomon’s

Ricky OKK Sedomon.

ANTIQUE: Jars that are still kept inside the house.

OKK Sedomon Datuk Seri Panglima Gunsanad.

house in Bingkor, Keningau today (June 17, 2012) as this is part of the history that led to the formation of Malaysia that not many people know about. “In 1963, my father (Tun Abdul Razak Hussein) had gone to the house to talk to OKK Sedomon, who was then the most influential leader of the Murut and Dusun in Keningau, to discuss issues related to the formation of Malaysia. “Former Sabah leaders including the late Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun and the late Tun Fuad Stephens had tried to talk to him but he had rejected the idea of forming Malaysia. “But miraculously, my father managed to convince him. He finally managed to get the support and I am very impressed on how he (Tun Razak) did it,” he said, adding that only after 49 years had he finally discovered the secret. He said: “As the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaya at that time, my father did not stop from showing

FROM BYGONE DAYS: A small house for storing rice which still stands.

respect to community leaders like OKK Sedomon. My father called SIGNIFICANT: Rumah Besar OKK Sedomon which has a valuable history. OKK Sedomon ‘father’ and that helped ease the tension in the room in this house (during the discus- after the Second World War in sion).” 1945. Najib said the magic word Ricky, who is a lawyer, said the helped to get the support of OKK contractor and employees were Sedomon, leading to the Chinese and the architecformation of Malaysia the tural design of the house same year. was based on Malay SulHe visited the onetanate’s palace of the storey Rumah Besar early 18th century. and saw, among othHe said his father’s ers, the Sedomon motive in developfamily gallery and ing a bigger house the balcony where was to accommoTun Razak had date his large famtalks with OKK ily, close relatives Sedomon. and siblings. SYMBOLIC: Meanwhile, Ricky said the anBinakul jar with the son of OKK tique furniture in the Linangkit pattern that became the Sedomon, Ricky said house were long gone official jar for the the construction of the and the remnants REMNANTS OF A VIOLENT PAST: Bullet holes remain untouched on the walls Kina and Gong’s house took four years of Japanese occupa- of the house. family gathering. from 1937 to 1941 to tion such as caps, coins, ish North Borneo Governor Sir ily was forced to leave the house complete, and the work bullets, guns and horseWilliam Goode, British Minisby Japanese soldiers who used it as was done with basic tools drawn wheels remained ter for Commonwealth Relations their temporary accommodation like hammers and saws, where scattered around the house. Duncan Sandys in 1959, Lord during the Japanese occupation. the wooden structures were cut to Several large jars known as RuLandsdowne in 1962, the first “My family fl ed to my father’s the required specification. mindai, Tumitiu and Langkang Prime Minister Tunku Abdul house in a nearby village and durHe said the house was built on a Laid had been brought into the Rahman, the second Prime Mining the war, they spent their time 12 acre-land with a beautiful view house for safekeeping. The jars ister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, at Kampung Bandukan and spent of the mountains and green trees. were once used for burial. the late Sabah Chief Ministers the nights in Kampung Sodomon. According to him, the wood was When the house was abandoned Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun Livestock was lost and farmland taken from the local forest about in 1979, nine of the jars from variand Tun Mohd Fuad Stephens, was destroyed completely during 50 kilometers from the construc- ous members of the descendants former Yang Di Pertua Negeri the war,” he said. Tun Ahmad Koroh and former tion site at Pelipikan, Kampung were stolen and were never recovAbout the holes in the walls of Deputy Chief Minister Datuk GS Mailo and Merampong and drawn ered. The house was occupied by the house, Ricky said they were Sundang. by water buffaloes. The roof was the family for one year after comthe results of shootings between “For 18 years originally made of sago leaves but pletion. the Japanese since 1979 the had been replaced by zinc sheets In 1942, OKK Sedomon’s famtroops and house was the Ausabandoned PRECIOUS: Valuable tralian Air and only antiques properly stored Force, in 1996 in the house. a n d did my bomb exf a t h e r ’s plosions immediate had created family mema small pond bers decide next to the house. to renovate Ricky said and improve after Japan the house as a surrendered family heirTRADITIONAL: Linangkit shirt with in 1945, the the natural pattern of the Kina and loom,” said family re- Gong families. This shirt was owned by Ricky. turned to the Gunsanad’s second wife, Songkok (1920). Ricky, on house and behalf his repaired the damage. The family family members, thanked the also started planting rice, rubber Prime Minister and Chief Mintrees, coffee and coconut. A small ister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa warehouse for storing rice and a Aman on their visit to Rumah Berubber smokehouse still exist. sar OKK Sedomon, last year. Ricky said his father was In 2008, Rumah Besar was dea political figure where clared one of the tourism packmany famous leaders ages in the interior by Keningau visited Rumah BeTourism Development Commitsar, including tee chaired by former Keninformer gau District Officer Haji Zulkifli BritNasir.

UNIQUE: Local carvings line the house staircase. There are also bullet holes on the stairs.

BEAUTIFUL: Najib at Rumah Besar during his visit to the house last year. Also seen is Musa (second right), Datuk Ayub Aman (third right) and Ricky (fifth right).

Monday, September 16, 2013


e r u t c e t i h c r A e g a t i r e n H A : h a b a S in w e i v r e ov

STILL STANDING: The Atkinson Clock Tower.

d at

ichar E: R r. G A T e I HER k Tow OUR son Cloc Atkin

By Richard Nelson Sokial President of Heritage Sabah


he study of local heritage architecture can generally be put under two categories; vernacular architecture and historical architecture. Vernacular architecture is essentially the traditional dwellings of our local Sabahan people, its construction techniques and superstitious beliefs before the coming of the colonial rulers of North Borneo. The other category includes the buildings, site and monuments erected by the colonial administration of North Borneo as well as the local government that came after it. These would consist of buildings, structures and sites built before and after WWII. Sabah in particular makes an interesting case study because a lot of our old buildings were destroyed during the war – and the types of modern buildings that sprung up in its place mostly have an entirely different architectural influence and style reflective of world events and cultural trends that influenced the liberated people of North Borneo. The state of Sabah was one of the last British Crown colonies to be acquired after the end of WWII. Prior to that, the British North Borneo Chartered Company (BNBCC) had already established itself as a pivotal force in shaping the way of life in Sabah as we know it; many native settlements experienced a positive growth surge in a more systematic and regulated urban pattern due to the infrastructure developments introduced by the BNBCC since 1881. Shophouses, missionary schools, parade grounds, centralised markets and administrative buildings were introduced; these buildings and their linkages became the new social focal points of the evolving North Borneo communities. The colonial architecture of Sabah was built mostly from local hardwood timbers, which was a vast available resource at the time. Many of the local town buildings were tastefully decorated, a blend

between British colonial aesthetic, Chinese and local native style. In fact, some shophouses even showcased Anglo-Indian influences brought over from the British Empire’s stronghold in the East. A main contributing factor for Sabah’s urban growth in the 20th century was the creation of the North Borneo railway in 1896 that started in the sleepy town of Weston going towards Beaufort – and linked between Tenom in the Interior Division towards the coastal port of Jesselton town (now Kota Kinabalu city). Along the way, numerous small townships sprouted and prospered as the daily commute of the steam-powered Vulcan locomotive trains brought raw materials and goods for trade at its various stops along the West Coast. Jesselton Point, today, remains as a testimony for these real events that have been recorded in the annals of Sabah’s grand history. As a result of WWII, the historical townships of Sabah saw the deployment of hundreds of Allied sol-

diers fighting to liberate North Borneo from the Japanese Occupation during 1942-1945. Surviving the hail of bullets and bombs from both Allied and opposing Japanese troops, the weathered timbers of these old town structures offer a window into the past, re-telling stories of the bravery of the Allied Forces, determination of the Japanese and resilience of the local people in a time of great difficulty. These historical accounts alone make Sabah an interesting and appealing destination for tourists, especially those from countries that have had social and political ties to this former British colony of North Borneo. The history of the state – evident in the old buildings that have miraculously still endured in these small colonial townships, are a testimony of Sabah’s growth and the progress that the people have made in these past five decades since the formation of Malaysia in 1963. Examples of these stillsurviving colonial townships are Kudat, Kinarut, Membakut, Bongawan, Beaufort and Weston – just to name a few. Sadly, our culture of disposability and lack of appreciation for the historical past is the main reason why Sabah’s architectural heritage is disappearing at such an alarming rate. Furthermore, there is also a lack of political will at both national and state government levels to properly implement measures that will ensure the continued longevity of a building in Sabah deemed as historical, as economic demands often trump common sense and foresight. Take the case of the Atkinson Clock Tower in 2010, for example – where a commercial shopping mall was slated to be built just metres a w a y

PRACTICE OF FORESIGHT: The reason for preserving heritage is to maintain and forge a link to the past and remind fellow Sabahans of our standing as equal partners in the early formation days of Malaysia.

from Kota Kinabalu’s o l d est and w e l l l o v e d landmark. It took a massive campaign effort by Heritage Sabah NGO and heritage supporte r s to convince the state government that this encroachment of commercial buildings would ultimately destroy the city landmark’s heritage significance. The case however, sparked a renewed interest among local Sabahans to take a closer look back into the past – and along the way, discover facets of their history and culture that they never knew existed. This is because our state’s significant contribution to the formation of this nation is sadly omitted from the Malaysian history books! Deprived of this, our own children are not privy to the fact that their lineage and rights as true-born Sabahans give them a platform to express their views vocally, equally and proactively on a national level, and most certainly, their rights to aspire and achieve any goals that they set for themselves in life as a Malaysian citizen. It is for these reasons that heritage advocates try to reach our local communities and help them to understand the need to preserve certain architectural elements in their hometowns that lend towards the understanding of our local history and our rightful place in our country Malaysia. In general, a building, site or monument deemed as being of ‘heritage value’ warrants the ability to be promi-

nently seen and easily accessible to the general public. The ‘air rights’ and accessibility to a view or surrounding a landscape not yet marred by the encroachment of modern development is the ideal; however, the demarcation of required setbacks of identified heritage buildings is very much dependent on factors unique to the site in its historical and urban context. At times, our authorities do try to edify a heritage building or place – but without any proper guidelines for how the preservation of heritage buildings should be approached. More often than not, they end up overdoing the embellishment to the original building and its landscape, thus ironically cheapening its appeal. I have seen a couple of cases in KK whereby a well-intended but overzealous placement of artificial landscapes, signage and lamp post, end up obscuring the panoramic views of a historical building, making it impossible for heritage lovers to take even a simple photo from panoramic angles as a momento of the place that they visited. Sometimes the best way is to allow a historical building to have a sense of dignified simplicity and access to the main scenic view that gives the place its context within the history of the local area. Jesselton Point, for example, known for its historical contribution as a port between UK, Hong Kong and North Borneo before Sabah’s Independence; if it was to be one day, completely obscured from the views of Pulau Gaya, the sunset and the shoreline of its original jetty – then what purpose would it serve as a historical place for the city of Kota Kinabalu? Same goes with the S a b a h Foundation building on Likas Bay. When it was com pleted in 1977 with its free-hanging steel structure and its revolving 18th floor, it was celebrated as one of the architectural marvels of Malaysia, surpassing even Kuala Lumpur at the time, and also the tallest building in


Borneo. Its timeless and futuristic facade belies its age and represents the dynamic aspirations of a modernised society of a young, educated and newly liberated Sabahan population back in the late 1970s. The Sabah Foundation building has yet to be recognised as a heritage building by the state government, but it certainly deserves to be, in years to come. To me, preserving heritage has absolutely nothing to do with being overtly sentimental or refusing to move forward. The reason for preserving heritage is in fact, a practice of foresight - to maintain and forge a link to the past, and is particularly important as a constant and enduring reminder to our fellow Sabahans that the stories of our history and our standing as equal partners in the early formation days of this nation we know as Malaysia, was and still is very real. However, over the span of five decades, Sabah has fallen into decline due to many factors; buildings like the Atkinson Clock Tower and the Sabah Foundation building – both standing as proud and enduring symbols of Sabah’s once great potential still exist as a reminder for the native communities of Sabah of what they are capable of achieving as a united people. After 50 years within the federation of Malaysia, it is now time for us to rise again through meritocracy, hard work and integrity to claim our rightful place and recognition in Malaysian society. Too many modern buildings in Sabah are poorly designed - and despite allocations of millions of ringgit for construction costs, most are examples of bad workmanship. It makes one wonder where all the money goes. A well-looked after heritage building however, is but a tangible manifestation of a sense of good principles and return to form aspired to by the local community. As Sabahans everywhere celebrate our 50th anniversary in Malaysia, it is timely for us to consider placing a higher priority on identifying, restoring and protecting our heritage sites, monuments and buildings. We owe it to ourselves to safeguard these heritage legacies from our past. And we owe it even more to the next generation to lead by example and show them how these legacies should be kept safe for the future.

Monday, September 16, 2013

E21 FOND MEMORIES: Wong shows photographs of tourists which he brought in to Sibu during his younger days.

UNFORGETTABLE: An album of tourists who had visited Sibu.

S’wak Hotel towers high over Sibu By Peter Boon


PRESENT DAY: Sarawak Hotel built in 1959 still stands majestically, towering with historical heritage.

MEMORY LANE: Sungei Merah in the late 60s.

espite the sprouting of newer and taller hotels here, the nearly five-decades-old Sarawak Hotel still towers over Sibu in terms of historical heritage. Former operator Johnny Wong Sie Lee said the four-storey hotel built in 1959 was popular among celebrities and ministers during the 60s era. It was the first air-conditioned hotel with a lift in Sibu, he said. “The late Tun Jugah, who was a minister in-charge of Sarawak Affairs, stayed in room 201 back in the late 1960s. He usually stayed overnight before taking a speedboat to Kapit the next day. “He was a very kind and humble man and always addressed me as ‘anak’ when he checked in. He liked the room with windows and stayed here a dozen times,” said Wong, who is also Sarawak Central Region Hotels Association chairman. He also recalled how Tun Jugah presented two ‘parang ilang’ to his father, Wee Teng Hock. Today, Wong, 73, still has these priceless gifts in good condition which he proudly showed to The Borneo Post. Besides Tun Jugah, many ministers have stayed there in the 60s and 70s, he said, adding that he was the hotel manager from 1962 till 1992. He was made manager upon completing a tourism course in Singapore. The father-of-five children recalled how Hong Kong celebrities from the Shaws Brothers’ era such as Ivy Ling Poh also stayed at the hotel when Hong Kong movie stars occasionally flew into Sibu to meet their fans back then. People waited for hours to buy movie tickets, similar to the present day phenomenon where people queued up for collectible

Tun Jugah

toys available at McDonald’s, he noted. “The former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, stayed in room 10 of Rex Hotel, in the same building as Sarawak Hotel. He stayed for nearly a week. “Back then, Lee had yet to become a politician and was here on a court case in his capacity as a lawyer,” Wong said. Celebrities and ministers aside, famous academicians like Emeritus Professor of Food Service and Lodging Management from University of Missouri, Columbia, John M Welch also stayed there. Wong showed a letter written by John stating his positive experience staying in the hotel. To this day, he treasures the special memory of the Sungei Merah River, which was rich with wildlife and huge attractions for foreign tourists. “Back then, I can still vividly recall the blue-feathered King Fisher, monitor lizards, monkeys and other animals. In fact, the tourists, especially the Germans that I brought in, spent an entire day watching the monitor lizards. They were bewildered by the wildlife. “Sadly, such panoramic scenery has been overtaken by development,” he said, adding that he cherishes these memories and shared them with his children and grandchildren. He said he had brought over 2,000 tourists to Sarawak. Asked on the changes to his hometown com-

Ivy Ling Po

pared to his childhood days, he remembered the streets were broader then. “We can’t deny there are many positive developments to the town. Unfortunately, the drainage system was not well planned back then which why occasionally drains overflowed after a heavy downpour,” he said. He noted there was less crime in the olden days. “But as society develops and become more sophisticated, things become more complicated. The police are doing a good job to keep law and order,” he observed. On politics, he revealed that he joined SNAP in 1970. He, however, contested as an independent candidate in Seduan seat in 1983 during the state election and lost. He rejoined SNAP several years later to continue his political struggle. He held the senior vice president post until the party became defunct. Politics, he said, had strengthened his character for the better. On events leading up to the formation of Malaysia, he recalled hearing the official announcement from the radio and reading from the newspaper. “Before the formation of Malaysia, the Cobbold

REMEMBER THIS?: An old photograph of Rex Hotel in the mid 50s before Sarawak Hotel was built.

PRECIOUS: Sungei Merah in the 50s. HERITAGE: Wong holds up the ‘parang ilang’ presented the late Tun Jugah to his father, Wee.

Commission came to Sarawak to conduct a survey and the majority favoured the formation. “Even so, there was a big incident in Methodist Secondary School here where many cars were turned over as some people protested against such a move,” he said of those who opposed the formation. The British government knew very well then that Sarawak was old enough to take care of itself and therefore, allowed for the proclamation of Independence. “Like our children, when they reach adulthood at the age of 18 years old, we allow them to become independent,” Wong said. On the brighter note, he recalled there was a colourful parade in Sibu when Malaysia was formed. “Political parties, members of the public, including students took to the streets to welcome the announcement.” Over the years, he said the state had grown by leaps and bounds as people enjoyed better quality of life. “My wish for Sarawak for the next 50 years is that it will continue to grow and people will reap the benefits of high income economy,” he revealed.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Electra House

Green Heights Mall

The growth of Kuching’s retail F

or decades, Malaysia has seen a boom in retail thanks to the presence of various cultures which bodes well for retailers as festive seasons are celebrated on a large scale. The periods leading up to Hari

Raya Aidilfitri, Christmas, Lunar New Year and Deepavali are a retailer’s dream scenario as consumers find a reason to splurge – from food to clothes, not forgetting furniture and other home decorations. However, shopping in Kuching

Wisma Saberkas

Plaza Merdeka

tHe Spring

has never seen much variety in the past, with only a handful of shopping malls available for the locals to frequent. From Kuching’s very first mall in Kuching, Electra House, to the recent boom in malls in and about town – Kuching has had its his-

tory with retaillers fighting to pull crowds over. Many years ago, it was the city’s very own ‘Golden Triangle’ that was the place to go for the young and old alike. It was not long ago that the scene shifted slightly as more and

Tun Jugah Shopping Center

more malls sprouted outside of the revered triangle beside the riverbank. With the opening of larger shopping malls in different parts of town – notably a large chunk of the crowd was notably drawn away from the city centre.

As these new malls succeeded in attracting a number of renowned retailers that had yet to penetrate the market here at the time of their opening, they have since been able to rise in prominence and are on the road to reshaping the retail landscape in Kuching.

The Hills Shopping Mall

Monday, September 16, 2013


The beginning of banks in S’wak By Ronnie Teo


T is perhaps a testament to Sarawakians’ financial adeptness and suave for business with the birth of various banks

in Sarawak.Many banks got their start in this state, dating back as early as the 1900s. This was fuelled by the growth periods back when major cities in the state were still developing as

trade routes formed, creating the need for business financing and currency exchange. Malaya’s banking system introduced by the British during the colonial period becoming rela-

tively well developed after World War 2. Meanwhile, the introduction of the New Economic Policy back in 1970 encouraged the rounds of mergers and acquisitions within

the financial sector in the country, in line with the government’s ambition. These Sarawakian banks become attractive targets for M&As by larger banking players. It is observed that these banks

from Sarawak are of moderate size, serving mainly to the local community. The Borneo Post looks at five banks which originated in Sarawak, and what happened to the group along the way:

THEN: BIAN CHIANG BANK (1924) NOW: CIMB BANK PERHAPS many are not aware that CIMB Bank originated in Kuching. It began as Bian Chiang Bank, first established in 1924. Back in those days, the bank was well-known for business financing and the issuance of bills of exchange. Fifty six years later, the purchase of Bian Chiang Bank by the Fleet Group led to the formation of Bank of Commerce Bhd in November 1979. The new bank held a strong focus on systems and transparency from the very beginning, reflecting the management style of coshareholder JP Morgan. This was evidenced by figures from 1982, whereby the institution held total assets worth RM367 million and total shareholders’ funds of RM12.8 million from an initial RM8 million. Consequently in 1986, Bank of Commerce replaced Bank Pertanian as the controlling shareholder of Pertanian Baring Sanwa

Multinational, following which the group’s name was changed to Commerce International Merchant Bankers Bhd (CIMB). The new shareholders retained its focus on corporate finance and initial public offerings (IPOs), which led the group to emerge as Malaysia’s top advisor for new listings. CIMB soon added stockbroking to complement its advisory and listings expertise, establishing an award-winning reputation as an equities broker and IPO house. This positioned the firm to enjoy high profits during the early 1990s equities “bull run”. At the height of the buoyant era in equities, CIMB took a major strategic decision to build its capabilities in fixed income in anticipation of future market opportunities. This placed CIMB in an excellent position to reap rewards from the exponential bond market growth in the late 1990s.

In 1991, Bank of Commerce Bhd acquired United Asian Bank in November 1991, which resulted in a new entity named Bank of Commerce (M) Bhd. Meanwhile, Bank of Commerce Bhd, the listed holding company, was renamed Commerce-Asset Holdings Bhd (CAHB). The acquisition was the starting point for more significant expansion to come. The Bank of Commerce branch network increased almost fourfold, complementing its established reputation in the corporate lending market. In October 1999, Bank Bumiputra emerged from the Asian financial crisis and other financial problems to merge with Bank of Commerce, resulting in the biggest merger in Malaysia’s banking history. They formed Bumiputra-Commerce Bank, under the control of CAHB, and became the bank of choice to many multinational and local corporations, government

organisations and individuals. IN 2003, CIMB took a major landmark by listing on the main board of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange in January. The acquisition of the Bumiputra-Commerce Group by CIMB was announced in June 2005, following the strategic decision by CAHB to create a universal bank by combining its consumer and investment banks. As part of the exercise, CIMB was delisted from the KLSE and CAHB was renamed Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd. From this point onwards, January 2006 marked the birth of the new CIMB Group as a universal bank. Complemented by the resources and reach of Bumiputra-Commerce Bank, one of Malaysia’s foremost retail banking providers, CIMB Group made the transition to a full-service banking provider, serving a range of customers, from corporates to individuals.

THEN: KWONG LEE BANK (1905), WAH TAT BANK (1929) NOW: HONG LEONG BANK HONG Leong Bank Bhd (Hong Leong Bank), a public listed company on Bursa Malaysia, is a member of the Hong Leong Group Malaysia (the Group). Headquartered in Malaysia, the Group has been in the financial services industry since 1968 through Hong Leong Finance Bhd and since 1982 through Dao Heng Bank Ltd in Hong Kong. Dao Heng Bank Ltd has since been sold to another banking institution. Hong Leong Bank started its humble beginnings in 1905 in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia under the name of Kwong Lee Mortgage and Remittance Company and later in 1934, incorporated as

Kwong Lee Bank Ltd. In 1989, it was renamed MUI Bank, operating in 35 branches. In January 1994, the group acquired MUI Bank through Hong Leong Credit Bhd (now known as Hong Leong Financial Group Berhad). This milestone saw the birth of Hong Leong Bank and in October the same year, Hong Leong Bank was listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (now known as Bursa Malaysia). Meanwhile, the group fully acquired another Sarawakian bank, Wah Tat Bank Bhd, on Dec 26, 2000. In 2004, the finance company business of Hong Leong Finance

Berhad was acquired by Hong Leong Bank. With more than 100 years of banking knowledge and experience, Hong Leong Bank today has a strong heritage, leading market positions and a wellrecognised business franchise and brand. Today, Hong Leong Bank has over 300 Branches, Sales and Business Centres in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam and a comprehensive range of alternate and electronic channels including self-service terminals, Hong Leong Call Centre, Hong Leong Online, Hong Leong Phone Banking and Hong Leong Mobile Banking.

THEN: KONG MING BANK (1965) NOW: EON BANK, and consecutively HONG LEONG BANK ONE can trace the beginnings of EON Bank Bhd to Kong Ming Bank Bhd, a small bank based in Sibu, Sarawak, founded in 1965. In 1991, Edaran Otomobil Nasional (EON) acquired 5.15 million shares or 46.85 per cent of the bank for RM94.6 million, marking the birth of EON Bank, which effectively enabled EON to tap into end-financing for Proton vehicles. EON Bank’s shareholding was already fragmented then, as EON fell short of acquiring all remaining shares it did not own in the bank at RM2.91 per share, after some shareholders holding some 37.86 per cent stake refused EON’s offer. EON Bank faced its first takeover attempt after the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis in line with Bank Negara Malaysia’s plan then to undertake a major overhaul of the local domestic banking landscape via a mandatory consolidation exercise. In 1999, the central bank announced that the country’s 55 financial institutions would be merged into six anchor banks to be led by Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), Bumiputra-Commerce Bank Bhd, Multi-Purpose Bank Bhd, Perwira Affin Bank Bhd, Public Bank Bhd and Southern Bank Bhd. EON Bank was to be merged into Maybank. However, in December 1999, EON Bank, together with RHB Bank Bhd, Hong Leong Bank Bhd and the Arab Malaysian banking group (now known as the Ambank Group) submitted fresh merger proposals to the central bank, following amendments in

the guidelines that allowed financial institutions to choose their own partners. In 2000, EON Bank acquired and merged with Oriental Bank, Malaysian International Merchant Bankers Bhd (MIMB), Perkasa Finance and City Finance for a total of RM473 million, paving the way for EON Bank to become one of the 10 anchor banks in the country. Subsequently, EON Bank saw a major restructuring exercise when it undertook a reverse takeover of Kedah Cement Holdings Bhd via a share swap exercise. Kedah Cement sold its cement operations and transferred its listing status to EON Capital Bhd (EONCap) in October 2002. EON Bank became a unit of EONCap. The restructuring exercise saw EON emerging as the controlling shareholder of EONCap with a 52 per cent stake of the restructured group. However, shareholding structure issues persisted, as EON was not allowed to own more than a 20 per cent stake in a financial institution under the Banking and Financial Institution’s Act. EON subsequently pared down its stake in EONCap by distributing the shares to its shareholders and ceased to become the banking group’s substantial shareholder in 2004. In 2011, Hong Leong Bank completed the merger with EON Bank Group. The merger effectively transforms Hong Leong Bank into a banking group of more than RM145 billion in assets and an expanded network of 329 branches nationwide.

THEN: HOCK HUA BANK (1952) NOW: PUBLIC BANK HOCK Hua Bank was established in November of 1951 as Hock Hua Bank Ltd back in Sibu. HHB Holdings Bhd (formerly Hock Hua Bank Bhd) was founded by a group of Foochow businessmen and doctors in Sibu and subsequently in 1968, the finance company, Hock Hua Finance Bhd (HHF), was formed. However, in 1999, HHF was acquired by HHB and merged into its operations. Back then, the bank provided a wide range of financial products to private clients, government sector, as well as corporate sector. It provides checking and savings accounts, automated teller machines (ATMs), time deposits, remittances, telebanking and mobile banking, bills payment, credit cards, direct deposit payroll, and debit cards, as well as various loan products such as mortgage, personal and business loans. Consequently, the bank was absorbed by Public Bank Bhd in March 2001. HHB took another major step in the banking consolidation exercise on June 26, 2000 when it entered into an agreement with Public Bank Bhd to merge their commercial banking businesses. On Sept 25, 2000, approval of the SC was obtained.Theproposalissubject to the approval of the MOF, BNM, other regulatory authorities, shareholders and the High Court.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Dedication to preservation By Geryl Ogilvy Ruekeith


BOUT 80 per cent of the state’s total land area of 12.4 million ha is covered with forest (including secondary forests). The government is set to double the size of its gazetted national parks from the current 500,000 hectares (ha) to one million ha by 2020. The state has previously target to preserve about seven million ha of forests as permanent forest reserves and one million ha as totally protected areas for the purpose of national parks, wild life sanctuaries and natural forest reserves. Reported in the state Forest Department website, the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) mission to the state in 1989 to assess its sustainable forest management found that the forest management initiative here was of a higher standard than most tropical timber producing countries. As a follow-up to the recommendation made following the mission, the Model Forest Management Area (MFMA) Project was implemented in 1993. Phase II of the project was completed in 2000. This project trains personnel from the Forest Department and timber industry players on reduced impact logging

techniques. A Malaysian-Germany Technical Co-operation Project entitled ‘Promotion of sustainable forest management in Sarawak’ was also set up in January 1995 and is now into its second phase. A pilot study area in the upper Baram has been established to demonstrate the sustainable forest management system proposed by this project. Background of forest plantation development; Interest in forest plantations started in the early 1920s when efforts were made to test both indigenous and exotic species in Sarawak. The forest plantation started with the Engkabang group which are important where 19 ha were planted in the Semenggoh Forest Reserve. In 1965, Reforestation Research Programme was initiated to test the fast growing exotic tree species especially conifers. A total of 200 plots of various provenances of tropical conifers such as Pinus caribaea, P insularis, Agathis macrophylla, Araucaria cunninghamii and A hunsteinii were tested. The results were poor and the conclusion drawn was that the fast-growing tropical conifers were not suitable for local conditions. In the early 1970s, the Forestry

Department began experimenting with some of the fast growing exotic tropical hardwoods like Acacia mangium, Gmelina arborea and Paraserianthes falcataria as an alternative. Species with somewhat longer rotations like Swietenia macrophylla, Durio zibethinus and Shorea macrophylla were also added to the list. All these species were considered for reforestation of lands that underwent shifting cultivation. In 1985, there was about 1,770 ha planted. The pace increased and 10 years later, nearly 13,000 ha have been planted up with various timber species. In September 1996, Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said that the state had reached its peak in producing timber from natural forests and needed to find better ways to sustain timber resources. The timber industry here would be better off if it embarked on reforestation with fast growing species to supplement timber production. The same year, the Forests Ordinance was amended to include section 65B in the Forests Ordinance, 1958 on the licence for establishment of planted forests. In 1998, an International Conference was held in Kuching to get the experience of people who have developed planted forests elsewhere that can give an insight on how best it can be done in the state. Issues and challenges in sustainable forest management effort One of main challenges of the forestry sector and wood-based industries in the state is to overcome the declining raw material supplies while fully utilising available resources. The Forest Department suggested that timber alternative sources apart from natural resources have to be explored to ensure adequate supply of raw materials. The pulpwood production sector has also been identified as critical due to the increasing demand for pulp and paper materials. This issue is worsen by the fact that the country is already importing a considerable and increasing amount of the products. “Although our natural forests are highly productive in terms of biomass production, commercial timber productivity is very low which is at about 2.0 - 2.5 cubic metre per hectare per year (m³/ha/yr) because most of the trees have no commercial timber value and must be reserved for protection functions of the environment. “Forest plantation, on the other hand, can be extremely productive. In Brazil, for instance, forest plantations yield 40 m³/ha/yr and under experimental conditions, yields of 80 m³/ha/yr have been recorded. If we assume a conservative growth rate of 30 m³/ha/yr, the annual production of 30 million m³ from our planted forests may be produced from a plantation area of about one million hectares. “The current timber production from our natural forests is 12 mil-

GREATER CONSERVATION: The government is set to expand ithe size of its gazetted parks from the current 500,000 ha to one million by 2020.

lion m³. In other words, the future supply of timber from our planted forests doubles what we produce currently. The establishment of planted forests is a long term strategy towards providing an alternative and steady source of woods material for the wood-based industries in Sarawak,” the department explained. The state mountainous terrain meant that most of its forests are located in hilly areas and therefore, environmentally sensitive. Without strict control and enforcement, logging can lead to soil erosion, pollution of rivers, flash floods and other negative environmental impact. In order to accord priority protection functions of forests as water catchment areas, biodiversity conservation and other environmental values which must be totally protected, there will be substantial decrease in the extent of natural forests for timber production. In this regard, forest plantations will relieve pressure on logging in the natural forests both in term of area and intensity. As forest plantations starts to yield timber, logging in areas needed for protection func-

tions will substantially decreases and phased out in due time. Sustainability of natural forest Concern over the sustainability of natural forests, ITTO has recommended that that log production from permanent forest estate (PFE) in Sarawak be reduced to 9.2 million m³ to achieve sustainable level. Annual allowable cutting in PFE is limited to 170,000 ha per year with an average estimated production of 100 m³ per ha. An area of five million hectares of PFE has been constituted as production forests. Out of this, an area of two million ha is allocated for planted forests with the remaining three million ha for timber production. Assuming that rotation period is 35 years and a timber production level of 100 m³/ha, an annual timber production of 8.5 million m³/yr can be realized from the PFE. This is not sufficient to supply materials for the forestry sector industrial needs in the future. This would mean that more timber has to be obtained from other sources to supplement timber production.

Planted forests with a high productivity would offer a promising long term supplementary source of timber. Environmental Protection The Forest Department under its Planted Forest Division will continue to monitor and audit tree planting activities. In accordance with the Forests (Planted Forests) Rules 1997, potential investors will need to submit their tree planting plan indicating planting schedule in terms of area to be planted annually and the species to be planted before the LPF is issued. “The environment needs to be protected and as we are all aware forests play an important part in this function. The opening of an area of forest will definitely have an impact on an environment. “This is a great challenge that needs to be addressed. Some negative impact to the environment cannot be avoided especially at the initial stage when there is clear felling of the area. The intensity of the impact needs to be reduced through strict monitoring,” it said.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Sweet and savoury dishes of Sarawak By Wilfred Pilo


ood and culture of the diverse ethnic groups in Sarawak and Malaysia in general, have strongly influenced the dishes laid out on the dining table at home or in eateries all over the country. The kaleidoscope of these savoury dishes never fail to satisfy the appetite and more often than not we always consume what is available to our hearts’ content. In Sarawak, many dishes have

SPICY INFLUENCE: Chicken Curry is a favourite dish served during the festive season and available in fast food cafés.

been created and ingredients substituted to ensure that everybody of different backgrounds can enjoy the dish. One of the most popular dishes in the Sarawakian home is the curry, a particular must-have for many races during any festive occasion celebrated in the country. Another common dish enjoyed all year round is the famous Chinese kolo mee which has become Sarawak’s signature dish now prepared with halal ingredients, enabling every-

TAKING A BREAK: This assortment of kuih easily available in kopitiams go well with a cup of coffee or tea.

body from different religious backgrounds to enjoy this simple yet satisfying meal. Over the last 50 years, the integration of dishes unique to each ethnic group has become interwoven with the state’s identity, further stamping the racial harmony and unity in the state as people can sit under one roof to enjoy whatever dishes are being offered. Sarawakians uphold the spirit of being good neighbours and this has made life more colourful and meaningful.

MILD AND SPICY: Chicken curry and BBQ pork rice are well-liked by many and shows the influence of spice on local food.

AFTERNOON DISH: ABC (Air Batu Campur) and rojak are popular afternoon delights.

Sabah’s Elvis talks about his idol By Elton Gomes

Everybody ages and if Elvis was still alive, he will also have aged and he will not have the looks and moves as he had when he was much younger, but he will still have that signature voice. Q: How much has changed in terms of the music industry in the country when compared to your younger years? Gomes: I have seen many changes in the music industry, from the 60s to the 70s, 80s, 90s and currently, in terms of the types of songs being played or performed. During my younger years, the music instruments and equipment used were not as sophisticated as what we have right now. Now, there are more high-tech equipment, from digital recordings to computer mixing. Q: Do you think such changes are good for the music industry? Gomes: Oh, very much so. All songs and vocals can be mixed and syn-

TO commemorate Malaysia Day, The Borneo Post talked to one of Sabah’s well-known singers, Chris C. J. Gomes, or better known as the ‘Elvis Presley of Sabah’ about his younger years growing up as an Elvis Presley aficionado and impersonator and his hope for the younger generations to appreciate the King of Rock N Roll. Q: How long have you been singing? Gomes: I started singing at the age of 16 and almost all of the songs that I sang were Elvis Presley’s songs. After secondary school, I started singing in night clubs, which was during the 60s, either by invitation or with my very own band. Q: What were some of the very first Elvis songs that you sang? Gomes: Love Me Tender and Jailhouse Rock. Q: Do you sing any songs of other artistes besides Elvis? Gomes: Yes I do, but I still prefer to sing Elvis’ songs. Like most teenagers in the 60s, Elvis Presley was their biggest fan and idol and I am no different. Q: There are many artistes who sing Elvis’ songs while some impersonate him. What inspired you to become an Elvis impersonator? Gomes: Like I said, . unger days Elvis Presley is my ring his yo Gomes du idol. I admire him from the way he sings, his Gomes moves on stage and his thesized to voice. Till today, people still ad- the right mire him and there are still large tune, which number of fans of Elvis. will make it presentable Q: Till today, you are known as and enjoyable. the Elvis Presley of Sabah. How Q: What about the type of music did you get that title? being played or performed now. Gomes: I think it all started when Has it changed a lot? I first won my Elvis singing comGomes: Yes, there are many difpetition in 1967 in Sandakan. From ferent kinds of songs and music then on, I started singing and im- right now as compared to the 60s or personating Elvis in nightclubs, 70s. You can still listen to rock and pubs (back in the 60s) functions or pop music but there are more vaweddings. People who know me rieties. But I believe with all those during my younger days will say changes, people will still listen and while some can even prove that I enjoy evergreen music. have the voice, the moves and even Q: Why is that? the looks of Elvis. I guess that is Gomes: Because, whenever there why until today people still know is a function such as a wedding, you me and recognise me as the Elvis can still hear evergreen music from of Sabah. But with age catching the 60s, 70s, 80s and some 90s being up, it is not the same as before. I’m played and performed. So I believe 67 right now and I don’t have the such music will never fade away. energy like when I was in my 20s. Q: Do you think the younger

The open-house culture has opened doors between ethnic groups, exposing people to warmth and hospitality that make Sarawakians special. This warm culture has transcended to our ‘kopitiams’ or cafés where friends and people of various races and religion can meet and eat. There is no problem indulging in good food as there is always a wide choice that usually whets the appetite and at the same time allows us to enjoy each other’s company.

generation can appreciate evergreen music? Gomes: Yes, I have seen many youngsters taking a liking and appreciating the evergreen music. They may not like it that much but they enjoy the music when it is played in functions or over the radio. I will never question the younger generation for listening to modern songs as it is just part of the trend as people grows up. Q: If you are requested to sing a modern song, what song will that be? Gomes: I don’t know many modern songs by heart. I can sing some of the songs but I have to learn the lyrics first. Q: Apart from Elvis Presley, do you have any other favorite artistes in terms of their music? Gomes: Yes, among them Celine Dion, Siti Nurhaliza, Erra Fazira, Bon Jovi. Q: Coming back to the question of being an Elvis impersonator, would you encourage the younger generation to sing or impersonate the King o f Rock and Roll?

Gomes: I will not force them, it is up to them. Although Elvis has been dead 36 years, his songs and legacy still live on. I have seen quite a number of youngsters coming out and impersonating him. There are many talented youngsters out there. They just need the opportunity to be exposed and recognized. Q: You recently organised a charity dinner to commemorate the King of Rock and Roll’s death anniversary, do you have any plans to organize such event again in the near future? Gomes: As a matter of fact, I am planning an Elvis Karaoke singing competition. The competition is not just to find who has the best voice but also to bring out the competitors’ potential as well as to carry on the Elvis legacy. Who knows, one of the competitors may become the next Elvis of Sabah.

Chicken kolo mee

Iban words 1 makai 2 jalai 3 pulai 4 lelak 5 tinduk 6 ninga 7 nuchuk 8 dan 9 pegai 10 asi 11 nuchi 12 tusah 13 mutah 14 mantah 15 dilah 16 beresi 17 alah 18 adi 19 entua 20 isan

SIGNATURE DISH: A halal alternative - beef kolo mee - to the traditional kolok mee enabling everybody to enjoy this traditional Sarawakian dish.

EVERYDAY FARE: Roti canai and beef curry.

Standard Malay words

Exact similarities between Iban and Malay words Iban words Standard Malay words

makan Jalan pulang lelah/penat tidur dengar cucuk dahan pegang nasi cuci susah muntah bantah lidah bersih kalah adik mertua besan

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

mata idung mulut lubang tangkap menang kaki lengan jari genggam betis kulit buluh abis bunga kayu keretas baju kain mandi

mata hidung mulut lubang tangkap menang kaki lengan jari genggam betis kulit buluh habis bunga kayu kertas baju kain mandi

Fusion of languages By Lian Cheng

“YOU want to go pasar tomorrow?” asked Chung Ah Huei. “Yes, I need to go there to buy some tenlong to decorate my loten,” said Mary Edward, a Bidayuh. “I am also going there to get some meat pies from the botak tauke which my family really suka ,” said Ah Huei. “Perhaps then we meet at the kampua stall near the tua-pek-kong place. Then we go buy some dragon fruit tuak we all want from one of the vendors there,” joined Sabai Embas, an Iban. What was going on above is a conversation that every Sarawakian has heard of and taken part in on a daily basis. Although our everyday language is peppered with borrowed words from each other, Sarawakians speak and understand it perfectly. The Chinese, for example, have been using “pasar”, a Malay word which has its version of pronunciation in almost all Chinese dialects. There are many more such examples - botak/bald, mata/police and suka/like to name a few. The Bidayuh community has been using the Chinese word “loten” for “upstairs” and of course, the Chinese word for “tauke” which is known in every ethnic language. The fusion of Sarawak’s diverse languages in everyday discourse has been one of the most unique features of the state. It came about naturally, indicating a readiness by others to learn and absorb each other’s cultures as result of cultural integration,

Dr Bromeley Philip

as commented by Associate Professor Dr Bromeley Philip, Academy of Language Studies, Universiti Technologi Mara (UiTM) Sarawak. Apart from ready acceptance, Bromeley said other factors leading to integration has been due to the fact that some “words” were just irreplaceable. “Words such as ‘tuak’ and ‘gawai’ were just irreplaceable which is how, every ethnic group tend to use these words as they are. Sometimes, some words are used because of the lack of concept in one culture such as the lack of concept of upstairs for the Bidayuh community, resulting in the direct borrowing of the word “loten” as “upstair” from Chinese dialect Hokkien or Teochew. But without close interaction, such borrowing would not be possible.

“There has been so much interaction and integration, especially through inter-marriages where different ethnic groups learn from each other,” said Bromeley. Of all languages, Bromeley noticed that the Malay and Iban languages showed the highest percentage of similarity in terms of their lexicons. “For example, the Malay language for ‘eye’, ‘nose’, ‘mouth’ and ‘tooth’ are ‘mata’, ‘hidung’, ‘mulut’ and ‘gigi’. So is the Iban language,” said Bromeley. He said the Iban language is the second lingua franca in the state after Malay as it has been used so much. “Then Iban songs and the fact that the Iban language has been offered as an elective in schools are also another reason why Iban langauge has been so widely used in Sarawak,” said Bromeley.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Appreciating S’wak’s natural landscapes and wildlife By Geryl Ogilvy Ruekeith


ETTING the public involved in wildlife conservation activities while raising awareness on the importance of forest rehabilitation is a continuous effort that remains in the forefront of the Sarawak Forestry Corporation’s (SFC) agenda with the aim to instill a sense of ownership amongst the people and younger generations in particular. This was one SFC’s main objectives when it celebrated its 10th anniversary this year with the theme, ‘Sustainable Forest Management and Conservation Excellence - 10 Years and Beyond.’ “In the first half of the year, we organised activities at two of our national parks in Kuching - Kubah Week and the park-wide gotong-royong at Bako National Park. Both events drew hundreds of people from the public, as well as government and corporate agencies. “Our main aim when involving other people in our activities is to inculcate a sense of ownership. When you feel like you own this place, you will certainly do everything you can to protect it,” said SFC managing director and chief executive officer Datu Ali Yusop in a statement to The Borneo Post recently. SFC also included Petronas and Shell in its marine conservation activities. In June this year, the corporation worked together with Shell in a programme called the 2013 Earth Day Beach and Reef Cleaning Project at Piasau Boat Club in Miri. Its Beacon of Hope project with the Malaysian Liquefied Natural Gas (MLNG) Group of Companies is a signature project whereby MLNG would provide funding for the deployment of reef balls at the Similajau National Park. In fact, the second batch of reef balls were deployed last month on Aug 19. “We see these partnerships as a win-win situation, whereby corporate bodies will be able to fulfill their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and at the same time, we get assistance in conserving the environment and wild-

life,” he continued. Sarawak Forestry is also working with Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) and Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd in Wildlife Monitoring and Rescue Operation (WiMOR) at Murum and Bakun hydroelectric projects dams. Among the areas of priority were the conduction of wildlife inventory within impoundment areas and conducting habitat suitability assessments for rescued wildlife before the impoundment. Wildlife species affected by the impoundment would be rescued, rehabilitated and released at suitable areas with continuous monitoring. Nurseries for rescued priority plant species were also established at suitable sites. Priority plants were also transplanted to suitable locations. In addition, SFC also established a Swift Wildlife Action Team (SWAT) which focuses on wildlife rescue and crocodile management while addressing human-wildlife conflict issues. “Due to rapid economic development and expansion of land use, human-wildlife conflicts are on the rise in Sarawak. These conflicts are most clearly manifested in crocodile attacks on riverside inhabitants which have been given wide publicity. “There have been equally well-publicised cases where the ‘victims’ of such attacks have taken the law into their own hands and sought retribution from perceived rogue crocodiles. While we understand the feelings of the victims, the public must not take the law into their own hands,” Ali explained. To reduce and prevent any such future conflicts, SFC is adopting a Holistic Crocodile Management Plan for Sarawak including introducing a programme called 3M Buaya (mengenali, memahami dan memulihara - to know, understand and conserve crocodiles), to educate people living in crocodileinfested areas on how to co-habit with them safely. Sarawak Forestry has been established by the government to position Sarawak at the forefront of sustainable forest management and conservation, as outlined in Sarawak Forestry Cor-

poration Ordinance, approved by the State Legislative Assembly in 1995. SFC’s workforce comprises welltrained and highly motivated professionals from every field of resource management. Its functions are governed by four major ordinances, namely the Sarawak Forestry Corporation Ordinance, 1995; the Forests Ordinance, 1958; the National Parks and Nature Reserves Ordinance, 1998 and the Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998. Biodiversity Conservation The state has more than 1,000 combined species of mammals, birds, snakes, lizards and amphibians. A large proportion of Sarawak’s animals are unique to Borneo and do not occur in mainland Southeast Asia. About 19 per cent of the mammal species, six per cent birds, 20 per cent snake species and 32 per cent of the lizard species are largely found in the Totally Protected Areas (TPA). The vascular flora of Sarawak comprises more than 8,000 species. Over 2,000 tree species have been enumerated whereas orchid would number more than 1,000 species. Ferns account for 757 species and palm make up another 260 species. “It is an undeniable fact that much of Sarawak’s endangered species is under threat of disappearing forever to extinction and this degeneration must be redressed. To conserve all species and habitats in perpetuity, the state has adopted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recommended action that at least 10 per cent of its land area should be in the TPA,” stated SFC in its website. In 1996, the Sarawak Government commissioned a Master Plan for Wildlife, which comprised a strategy to balance wildlife conservation with development in the state. Following its recommendations, the Government passed a new law, the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998, which banned all commercial sales of wildlife and wildlife products taken from the wild. It recognised that rural communities

depend on wild meat and thus did not ban hunting. The new law was strictly enforced in urban areas followed by a widespread publicity and education campaign. Under this Ordinance, some of the wildlife which are endangered or rare have been categorised as Totally Protected and Protected Animals. Total ban or trade of wildlife has also been enforced. Totally protected species Totally Protected Species are defined as species which are in the danger of extinction due to hunting and habitat destruction. These animals are extremely rare and not allowed to be kept as pets, hunted, captured, killed, sold, imported or exported, or disturbed in any way. The public is also prohibited to possess any recognizable part of these animals. The penalties for any of these offences are severe: For a rhinoceros, a fine of RM50,000 and five years imprisonment. For an Orangutan or proboscis monkey, a fine of RM30,000 and 2 years imprisonment. For all other species, a fine of RM25,000 and 3 years imprisonment. National parks, nature reserves, wildlife sanctuaries The state has one of the most extensive protected area networks in Malaysia which includes 30 national parks, six wildlife sanctuaries and eight nature reserves. These protected areas cover a total area 799,627.70 ha (land area and water body) - national parks 385,056 ha, nature reserves 1,767.30 ha and wildlife sanctuaries 206,460.40 ha. Total land area excluding water body is 593,283.70 ha There are about 15 TPA that is open to public (which includes national parks, nature reserves and wildlife centres). Wildlife sanctuaries, however, are not open to visitors and exist to preserve and conserve vulnerable ecosystems or endangered wildlife. Each has its own crucial role to play in protecting the natural environment and biodiversity.


Bako National Park

- Gazetted in 1957, Bako is the oldest national park in Sarawak covering an area of 2,727 ha at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula, situated some 37 km from Kuching. Although it is one of the smallest national parks, it is considered the most interesting as it contains almost every type of vegetation in Borneo.

Talang-Satang National Park

- Talang-Satang is the state’s first marine park, established with the primary aim of conserving the turtle population. Gazzeted in 1999 and covering a vast water area of 19,414 ha, the park comprises the coastline and sea surrounding of four islands of the southwest coast of Sarawak namely Pulau Talang Besar and Pulau Talang Kecil off Sematan, and Pulau Satang Besar and Pulau Satang Kecil off Santubong near Kuching. These four “Turtle Islands” are responsible for 95 per cent of all the turtle landings in Sarawak. The park also includes the Pulau Tukong Ara-Banun Wildlife Sanctuary, two tiny islets which are important nesting sites for colonies of Bridled Terns and Black-Naped Terns.

Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

- Semenggoh Wildlife Centre was established in 1975 to care for wild animals which have either been found injured in the forest, orphaned, or were handicapped by prolonged captivity, with the objective of subsequently releasing them back to the wild. The centre is situated within the boundaries of the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, approximately 24 km from Kuching. The centre also conduct research on wildlife and captive breeding programmes for endangered species and while educating visitors and the general public about the importance of conservation. The centre is famous for its Orang Utan rehabilitation programme. To date, 26 orangutans have been born in the wild at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.

Orang Utan

- The Orang utan Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus is listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is Totally Protected under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998. There are currently 2000-2500 individuals in Sarawak. In recent years, several initiatives were developed to assist decision-makers with regards to Orang utan conservation strategies and to address existing threats in Sarawak. These include the implementation of the Centre of Excellence for Orangutan Research, development of the Orang utan Strategic Action Plan for Transboundary Biodiversity Conservation Area (OUSAP: TBCA), the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary Strategic Management Plan (LEWS: SMP) and the Orang utan Strategic Management Plan for Sarawak (OSMPS). These initiatives tackled the need for better protected area management, further collaboration with relevant agencies and their Indonesian counterparts, and even commencing an informer network among the communities of BANP-LEWS complex. In order to accomplish parts of these initiatives, the Management Information System or MIST was proposed as a tool to be used for protected areas management. The system provides a software link between database (raw data of enforcement activities, wildlife and social surveys) and Geographical Information System (GIS) (waypoints from GPS devices) by offering simple data entry facilities and storage, and generating maps and reports as a standard information output for decision makers. By allowing swift access to information, managers can make better decisions pertaining to the protected areas, core wildlife areas, management interventions on specific sites, resource planning, patrolling efficiency, and long-term management of human-wildlife activities.

Giant Squirrel

- One of the world’s largest tree-dwelling rodents, with a nose-to-tail length of up to 45 cm and a weight of 1.5 kg, the giant squirrel is found only in the dipterocarp and lower montane forests. Active during daylight, the giant squirrel feeds mostly on seeds and occasionally on leaves, shoots, bark, insects and bird eggs. The giant squirrel is highly territorial, defending its territory with a series of short, harsh chattering sounds that are often audible for several hundred metres. When threatened it will either flee, leaping up to six metres between trees, or will flatten itself against a branch, remaining completely motionless for long periods and relying on its dull colouring as camouflage.

Clouded Leopard

- There are only 10,000 estimated population of the Clouded Leopard in the world today. The animal can be found in Borneo, India, Southern China and the mainland of Southeast Asia and Sumatera. Despite its wide range of origin, the distribution is extremely thin. It is named the clouded leopard for he distinctive “clouds” on its coat - ellipses partially edged in black, with a darker colour insides than the background. For a large predator (1.5 metres in length from nose to the tip of the tail), the Clouded Leopard has remarkable tree climbing abilities which allows it to hunt in the rainforest canopy as well as on the ground. Its remarkably long canine teeth have earned it the title of the “modern day Sabre Tooth”.


- Distantly related to the manatees of the American Atlantic coast, the Dugong or ‘sea cow’ is a mammal adapted to a life spent entirely in water. It is usually solitary or lives in small groups, traveling considerable distances between feeding areas which are mostly seagrass beds and other shallow water vegetation. The dugong can grow up to 3.3 metres long and weigh as much as 600 kg.

Bulwer’s Pheasant

- The Bulwer’s Pheasant is about the size of a chicken. Spotting splendid blue facial wattles with long, spreading curved white tail, many perceived this animal as good looking. Bulwer’s pheasant is only found in tropical hill forests at the central and northern Borneo, where it nests and forages on the ground and roosts in trees. It is a poor flier but a fast and nimble runner, using a combination of darting runs and flurried bursts of flight to avoid predators. During the mating season the male produces a shrill, piercing cry and performs a tail-spreading, wattle-raising dance for interested females. Although widespread in central Borneo, it has a low population density.

Rhinoceros Hornbill

- The largest of the hornbill family, the rhinoceros hornbill is found throughout mainland Southeast Asia, Borneo, Sumatra and Java. Its wing can span up to more than a metre. This hornbill species are exclusively fruit eaters and they mate for life. Their nesting habits are unique in a way that the incubating female seals herself into her tree hole nest with mud, leaving only a small aperture through which food is passed by the male. When the young hatch, the female breaks out, but re-seals the nest and helps to feed the young until they are ready to leave the nest.

Green Turtle

- One of the largest and most widespread of the marine turtles, the green turtle’s colouring varies from olive to brown, grey and black with swirls and irregular patterns. Its name is actually derived from the green colour of the fat and connective tissues of the species. Distributed throughout the tropics, green turtles spend their lives moving between seagrass beds and nesting beaches, sometimes traveling over 2,000 km to lay their eggs on their ancestral beach. They are extremely long-lived, and may take as much as 60 years to reach sexual maturity.

Painted Terrapin

- The painted terrapin inhabits estuaries and mangrove swamps throughout Southeast Asia. Unusually, it moves downriver to nest, laying its eggs on coastal beaches a few kilometres away from its riverine feeding areas. Named the painted terrapin for the red stripe that appears between the eyes of the male during the mating season, it lays far fewer eggs than marine turtles (usually 10 to 12). Their nesting beaches are very limited in Sarawak.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Remembering Sibu’s great sporting powerhouses Swimming By Philip Wong


arawak was the swimming powerhouse in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. From 1980 to 1987, Sarawak emerged overall champions for eight consecutive years in the National Swimming Championship, leaving little room for the swimmers from other states. In their heyday, Sarawak swimmers were just that formidable and powerful and many would return from their outings with accolades and titles, much to the chagrin of other states. Almost 30 Sibu swimmers would dominate the Sarawak team in each outing. Swimmers like Hii Hieng Chiong, Hii Toh Hock, Ling Kwong Leh, Wong Koh Ching, Hii Ding Lik, Hii Duan Sing and Wong Kwong Ling easily became household names in

the 1980s and 90s for their talented performances and record-breaking feats. In the 2000s, a new crop of swimmers like Die Ung Manggang, Tay Siew Jung, Wong Liong King and Ling Leh Yien, Hii Siew Siew, Ting Ee Jie, Su Siaw Jin and Tay Xue Jung also thrust Sarawak into the limelight. And the latest catch included Alex Tiong and Nee Gui Ping, both of whom are expected to ink headline news in time to come. Hieng Chiong, Sarawak’s best known swimming coach, got actively involved in swimming since his school days. In 1979, his first big break came when he was picked to represent Malaysia in the SEA Games held in Myanmar (then Rangoon). He took part in two events - the 200m freestyle and the 4 x 200m freestyle relay – winning a bronze in the 200m freestyle. FORMER CHAMPIONS: These are the glorious swimmers who brought pride to Sarawak in the early 1970s and 1980s. Standing in the centre is Sarawak chief swimming Hii Hieng Chiong

Volleyball Sarawak has been the powerhouse for volleyball since the 1960s. The earliest stage for both volleyball and basketball in Sibu was at the Sibu Basketball Court (SBC) Court at Jalan Causeway which also housed the office of the 3rd Division Youth, Sports and Culture Department. The building was demolished in the 1998 to make way for the present Wisma Sanyan. The venue for volleyball was later moved to the Multi-Purpose Hall in Bukit Lima which was officially opened on July 21, 2001 by Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh before it was relocated to the current site at Rejang Park. A RM6 million new four-storey Sibu Prudential Volleyball Association Stadium that comes with a fully integrated state-of-the-art facilities and the only one of its kind in the country is expected to be completed at the end of this year. It is also located at Rejang Park,

adjacent to the existing Rejang Park Volleyball Stadium. In men’s volleyball, Sarawak was the champion in the Malaysia Volleyball Championship 12 times, starting with its first title in 1964 held in Singapore Since then, Sarawak went on to lift the title for five consecutive years from 1967 to 1972, and then in 1975, 1976, 1979, 1982, 1987, 1988 and 1990. It also emerged as first runners-up six times in 1966, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1981 and 1995. For the women, Sarawak also tasted victory 10 times since the start of the championship in 1964. Sarawak chalked up victory in 1978, 1979, 1982 and for five consecutive years from 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993 and later in 1996 and 1997. It also emerged first runners-up six times in 1977, 1984, 1994, 1995, 1998 and 2003.

PAST SWIMMING GREATS: Some of the past swimming greats from Sibu met at Sibu Bukit Lima Swimming Pool during the 2012 Sibu Age Group championship held in Sibu.

Iconic Venues The oldest sports stadium in Sibu was named King George ground at Jalan Causeway. It was situated right smack in the existing Wisma Sanyan and was opened for use since 1960s. It was renamed Padang Sukan Tunku Haji Bujang and was the main venue to host athletics and football competitions during those times. The sports field, together with the SBC Court and the Sibu Recreational Club (SRC) court which used to host tennis events, were all demolished in 1998 to pave the way for the present Wisma Sanyan building. The sports field was later moved to Stadium Tun Zaidi at Airport Road. It was officially officiated by

state Governor Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Haji Muhammad Salahuddin on Sept 11, 1999. The Bukit Lima Swimming Pool at Bukit Lima is Sibu’s oldest swimming pool. It was officially opened by then Sibu Urban District Council Chairman Khoo Peng Loong on Aug 30, 1963. Since then, the privately-owned swimming pool has undergone renovation on two occasions to beef up its facilities and also to upgrade the electronic timing system. Delta Swimming Pool is the other swimming pool that operates at Delta Estate. It was officially opened in 1994 by Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh.

SPORTS POWERHOUSE: Sarawak women’s volleyball team was national champion for ten times from 1980 to 1999,

HARD TO EMULATE: These are the champion swimmers from Sibu during the 1970s to 1980s.

SPORTS POWERHOUSE: The state men’s volleyball team was national champion from as early as 1964.

Monday, September 16, 2013


50 Years of Sporting Sarawak


By Eikman Teo and Kenny Ee With contributions from Philip Wong (Sibu), Jenifer Laeng (Miri), James Ling (Kapit), Yunos Yusof (Bintulu), Matthew Umpang (Kuching)

Introduction From 1963 to 2013, sports provided an endless drama that stirred the spirit and strengthened the bond among the multi-racial people of Sarawak. Fans, athletes, ordinary participants, extraordinary stars, coaches, officials and administrators contributed to this half century of thrills and spills, heroes and heroines, broken records and brilliant achievements. But at the end of it all, there were the memories. Here are some of the fading recollections, half forgotten places, memorable events and greatest moments in the last 50 years of Sarawak’s sporting history.


Peaks of Excellence 10 October 1964 (Tokyo, Japan): Malaysia took part in her first Olympic Games as a nation. Hurdler Bala Ditta was selected and became Sarawak’s first Olympian. In 1962, Bala Ditta had clocked an exceptional 14.6 sec in the 110 metres hurdles and represented the colony of Sarawak at both the Asian Games in Djakarta, Indonesia and the Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia. Incidentally, 14.6 sec has remained as Sarawak’s state record for the event to this day - more than half a century later! Bala was given the honour of carrying the national flag as he led the Malaysian contingent to enter the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.

13 August 2004 (Athens, Greece): Sarawak’s Bryan Nickson Lomas carried the Malaysian flag into the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony. At 14 years and two months, the world-class diver was and still is the youngest Malaysian athlete ever to do the honours. In November that year, Bryan emerged as the world junior champion in the 3 metre individual springboard. He went on to be a triple Olympian (2004, 2008 & 2012).

27 July 2012 (London, England): It was the turn of Pandelela Rinong to bear the flag as she led the national team at the opening of the latest edition of the Olympic Games. Two weeks later, Pandelela climbed the podium to receive the bronze medal for the 10 metre individual platform dive - the first female in our nation’s history to win an Olympic medal.

The Iron Maidens Shot putter Lee Chiew Ha was SEA Games champion in 1989 and 1991. Her national record of 14.41 metres remains unbroken, 24 years later! Then there were two multi-talented athletes. Gladys Chai Ng Mei was state champion for high jump (5 times) and long jump (twice), before moving to Germany and returned to become SEA Games champion in the high jump (1973, 1975 & 1979) and pentathlon (1973 & 1975). Jessica Lau Kiew Ee was state champion for 100 metres (6 times), 200 metres (3 times), 400 metres (twice), 100 metres hurdles (6 times), 200 metres hurdles (4 times), 400 metres hurdles (5 times) and long jump (3 times)! She won the SEA Games gold medal for the 400 metres hurdles in 1977.

Solomon Esmanto

Ngap Sayot Win or lose, the state football team captured the imagination of thousands. Its highest achievement was winning the F.A. Cup in 1992 and finishing as runner-up in the Malaysia Cup in 1999. But the most memorable period was the legendary Ngap Sayot era from 1988 to 1990. The team comprised all homegrown players led by a charismatic local coach, Awang Mahyan. They made headlines even when they jumped into the Sarawak River from the Satok Bridge in celebration.

Ngap Sayot team

Our sports facilities have been transformed over the past 50 years. Older Sarawakians can recall a bygone era when major sporting events were held in iconic venues some of which are probably forgotten by the present generation. In each major town in Sarawak, there was always a padang or field in which the crowd gathered to watch the big football matches or track and field meets. In most towns, through the 1960s and 1970s, indoor sports like basketball, volleyball and badminton took place in school halls if those were large enough. Up to the mid 1980s, only Kuching and Sibu had indoor sports stadia. In Kuching, the Jubilee Ground through the 1950s to the 1980s hosted the Borneo Games, Borneo Cup, Sarawak Cup, inter-state championships, inter-division meets, interschool competitions and sports days. A bitumen running track was laid in 1961 - making it the first such facilHappy World Stadium ity in Sarawak. Key tournaments for indoor sports such as basketball, volleyball and badminton were held in the Happy World Stadium in the 1950s, renamed the Chung Hua Middle School No. 3 Stadium in the early 1960s. The Olympic-standard State Stadium (with the first synthetic running track in Sarawak) and State Indoor Stadium were only opened in 1983 and 1988 respectively. In Sibu, the King George VI Memorial Ground was where the major football and athletics events were held from the 1950s . It was fitted with a bitumen running track in 1965 and a synthetic track in 1991. The Bukit Lima swimming pool was opened in 1963 in the same year as the Kuching Municipal Council (KMC) swimming pool - the first two public swimming pools in Sarawak. In Miri, the Padang served as the key venue for sporting events in the 1950s. Then the Miri Municipal Council (MMC) Field and adjoining outdoor MMC Basketball Court took over from the late 1960s. Outside Kuching and Sibu, Olympic-standard indoor and outdoor stadia (with seating capacity for thousands of spectators) and Olympic-size swimming pools for public use only appeared in the other towns from the late 1980s.

Ballang Lasung

The Strongmen Lee Chiew Ha

Iconic Venues

A long and illustrious line of `strongmen’ lifted the Sarawak flag high for the past half century. Bodybuilder Soloman Esmanto was the first to hit the big time when he was crowned Mr Asia 1969. Bujang Taha (1980 & 1981) and Liaw Teck Leong (2000) also earned the Mr Asia title. In 1977, weightlifter William Yeo became Malaysia’s first SEA Games gold medalist in the sport. Javelin thrower Ballang Lasung was the best in Southeast Asia over a span of 7 years, winning the gold medal in four consecutive SEA Games - 1977, 1979, 1981 and 1983. In the following decade, hammer thrower Wong Tee Kui was SEA Games champion in 1991 and 1993. In 1998, Sapok Biki created history as the first Malaysian boxer to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal.

Sapok Biki

Sarawak Indoor Stadium

Jubilee Ground

The Fastest Man Sarawak athletes started travelling to Malaya to compete regularly from the late 1940s. It was at that time that newspapers in Malaya reported the phenomenon of ‘The Flying Sea Dayak’ - Sarawak’s sensation, Terence Janting, who was challenging the best sprinters in the region. Running on grass, Terence Janting’s best time for 100 yards was 10.0 sec. His Sarawak record stood until Joseph Lee clocked 9.9 sec in Jubilee Ground’s new bitumen track in 1962. In the mid-1970s, Kom Tinggang recorded 10.5 sec in the 100 metres and represented Malaysia in regional competitions. The last great sprinter Sarawak produced was Watson Nyambek who clocked 10.30 sec (electronically timed) in 1998 to break the national record which had stood for 30 years. No Sarawak male sprinter has made headway at the national or international level since then.

Sarawak team for the Borneo Games (1958)

Winning Streaks

Satok Bridge jump

Bletih Stadium, Kapit

Sibu’s contribution to Sarawak’s sporting glory came mainly in swimming and volleyball - the two sports above all others that Sarawak has been national champions the most number of times since 1963. Sarawak was Sukma (Sukan Malaysia) champions by winning the most gold medals in 3 consecutive Sukma in 1990, 1992 and 1994. Another brilliant streak is provided by our student athletes who have reigned supreme at the National Schools Track and Field Championships for 17 out of the last 21 years. Our paralympians have been unbeaten overall champions at the National Paralympiad since 1994! How about the longest winning streak by an individual in our state? Lim Khiok Seng was Sarawak’s badminton singles champion for 23 years from 1954 (he lost twice and was absent once). His last title was in 1979 when he was 45 years old!

SUKMA champions

Malaysia Day Supplement 2013