Friday, September 30, 2005

Sarawak's Mt Santubong may get cable car

By Magdalene Rogers

KUCHING - The legendary Mount Santubong, which covers the horizon of the tourist triangle of Santubong, Bako and Buntal, will soon have a cable car, if the proposal is approved.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Alfred Jabu said that a group of Austrian experts has expressed interest in realising the cable car project.

He said these same experts were also responsible for setting up the renowned 2.2-kilometre cable car link in Langkawi, which was from the foothill of Machinchang to its summit.

Besides the Austrian experts, a local company has also submitted a similar proposal to the state government, which is currently under evaluation.

The proposal to the system was a follow-up to an earlier study by Sarawak's Tourism Ministry which "sought a way that would allow visitors to enjoy the scenic rides amid lush greenery up the Mount Santubong," Jabu said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Revolving restaurant at Sabah Foundation buidling is revived

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah's tourism industry will have another unique product to offer visitors here with the revival of the revolving restaurant located on the 18th floor of Menara Tun Mustapha that houses the Sabah Foundation in Likas, near here.

To be named Atmosphere Restaurant, the premises, which has not been operating for almost 20 years, would undergo a major facelift with a budget of about RM1 million set aside by the new management, Asia Extreme Sdn Bhd, a specialist in travel and tourism development.

Speaking to reporters at a sneak preview of the restaurant on Thursday, Asia Extreme Marketing & Sales Director, Victoria Hilley said renovation works to give an avant-garde retro look are expected to take three months.

"Our target is no later than January next year," she said when asked how soon the restaurant can start operating.

According to her, they chose the name "atmosphere" to describe its location that provides breathtaking views of the city from the landmark Sabah Foundation tower.

Asia Extreme was granted a long-term lease from Sabah Foundation and both are working closely to develop the restaurant as a tourism destination. At the moment, between 20 and 30 tour coaches are bringing tourists to the tower for them to take photographs of the landmark.

Hilley said they want to capitalise on this by bringing the tourists up to the restaurant where they can both dine and view the most panoramic views available in the city.

The 62-minute per revolution restaurant provides a 360-degree view of the city, Likas Bay, UMS, State Legislative Assembly and the islands fronting the city.

"The restaurant also symbolises rapid development in Kota Kinabalu," she said, adding it would offer Pacific Rim cuisine including dishes from Asean countries and even as far as North America and Mexico.

As for the pricing, Hilley said they were working to make it below the five-star hotel restaurants, as the focus would also be on local diners.

Among those who attended the Construction Party cum sneak preview of the restaurants were travel and tourism players in Sabah.

Courtesy of Daily Express

Monday, September 26, 2005

Cultures to continue as main tourism product for Sabah

Sandakan: Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Karim Bujang said the Government would continue to promote the cultures and traditions of the various local ethnic groups as one of the main tourism products of the State.

He said all communities have their own cultures handed down for generations and these are something unique for foreign tourists to observe, thereby creating a lasting impression in the international tourism belt.

Karim said this while launching the annual Kinabatangan Sungai Festival on Saturday.

He noted that the Kinabatangan River had played a significant role in the early development of the area, particularly the influence imparted on the Sungai community by the early Chinese traders.

He also said his Ministry plans to document the history of the Sungai community relating to the early developments in terms of culture and handicraft.

According to him, all districts with their own predominant ethnic community have been identified by their respective festivities, such as Pesta Rumbia (Kuala Penyu), Pesta Kobis (Ranau) and Pesta Kelapa (Kudat), which have been included in the Sabah tourism calendar.

"The wide diversity of cultures and traditions can greatly impress foreign visitors," he said.

Courtesy of Daily Express

Tuaran pagoda has huge tourism potential

Tuaran: The newly-opened nine-storey Loong San Pagoda Temple here has huge tourism potential given its characteristics as a symbol of harmony and understanding of the various customs, cultures and religions in Malaysia.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said the dragon-decorated pagoda is also unique as it presents the rich heritage of the Chinese community.

"Hence, we hope all tourists arriving in Kota Kinabalu will visit the pagoda," he said when opening the State Government-funded pagoda, Sunday.

The construction of the building began about 10 years ago with an allocation of about RM1.5 million from the Government that was distributed in three phases.

Pairin said the Government realised the importance of the pagoda and thus the allocation.

"I believe the Government's willingness to channel allocation for the construction of the pagoda is in line with its objectives to promote culture," he said.

"It also shows the Government is sincere in advocating freedom in practising religion," he added.

According to Chinese traditions, Pairin said the pagoda is a symbol of harmony and understanding of community living.

In the context of Malaysia, he said the structure symbolises the harmony of the people with diverse races and religions.

As a society that appreciates the intricacies of culture, a visit to the pagoda would give the visitor better knowledge of the Chinese traditions and spiritual aspects, he said.

Historically, Pairin said the Chinese traditions and arts are very unique and dynamic and are considered among the oldest in the world.

"The pagoda is a fusion of two important aspects in the Chinese art that combines traditions and Buddhist teachings," he added.

Also present were Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai, Youth and Sports Assistant Minister Jahid Jahim, Kiulu Assemblyman Datuk Louis Rampas and Sabah Progressive Party President, Datuk Yong Teck Lee.

Courtesy of Daily Express

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Palm oil demand ‘killing' orang-utans in Borneo: study

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Demand for palm oil, which is widely used in processed foods, is driving the orang-utan towards extinction by speeding the destruction of their forest habitat, Friends of the Earth said Friday.

The environmental campaigners said Asia's only great ape could be wiped out within 12 years unless there was urgent intervention in the palm oil trade, which it said was also linked with human rights abuses.

"Almost 90 per cent of the orang-utan's habitat in Indonesia and Malaysia has now been destroyed. Some experts estimate that 5,000 orang-utan perish as a result every year," it said in a statement from London.

In a report it dubbed the "Oil for Ape Scandal", the group said wildlife centres in Indonesia were over-run with orphaned baby orang-utans that had been rescued from forests being cleared to make way for new plantations.

"Oil-palm plantations have now become the primary cause of the orang-utans' decline, wiping out its rainforest home in Borneo and Sumatra," it said.

Friends of the Earth said that palm oil is found in one in 10 products on supermarket shelves, including bread, crisps and cereals as well as lipstick and soap, and that many manufacturers did not know where their oil was coming from.

Palm oil plantations have also been blamed for the annual haze crisis which hit Malaysia and Thailand last month, as clouds of smoke and dust from "slash and burn" operations drifted over from Indonesia's Sumatra island.

Source: Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Wild Man" of Borneo

Here's an interesting Destination Malaysia article published in the Bangkok Post that may tickle your fancy about the amazing Orang Utans of Borneo.

He wore the same bored expression of a catwalk model and under all that fur, you never quite know what an orang utan is thinking.... afterall, it's a jungle out there.

His burnt orange coat, clearly the new black, as he paused, posed, and proferred what resembled a faint smirk, before continuing down the plank.

The "wild man'' of Borneo, a long-haired troll on which my childhood fantasies had been based - like a character in a Grimm Brothers book, had been replaced by a laconic larrikin who simply wanted a self snapshot.

"That's Mr G,'' Dion, our tour guide whispered in a delicous Malaysian accent which ambled like a car driving over a rickety wooden bridge.

"Male monkeys,'' she said, pointing at my breasts, "like this about human women.''

Such is the law of the jungle at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, on Malaysian Borneo's east coast.

One of only two places in the world to experience orang utan in the wild, the dense forest is home to other creatures, such as the gloriously green yet venomous viper whose shape almost spells out Selamat Datang or "welcome'' in Malaysian, such is its dexterity.

Click Here to read the rest of the Article

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Labuan To Host More Events To Attract Tourist

By Rosli Abidin Yahya

Bandar Seri Begawan - In an effort to boost its economy and make the island more attractive to visitors, Labuan is set to host more events for tourists, said Datuk Suhaili Abd Rahman, the Chairman of Labuan Corporation.

Datuk Suhaili, also a member of the Malaysian Parliament in Labuan, remarked that apart from the annual Labuan International Sea Challenge in May, the island will host other activities, starting with the 2006 countdown at Labuan Square.

"There will be fireworks and stage shows by some renowned Malaysian artistes as Labuan ushers in the New Year," he disclosed at the Trade and Tourism Expo 2005, currently being held at The Mall in Gadong until September 23.

On February 1, Labuan will celebrate Federal Day to commemorate its entry into the Federal Territory of Malaysia with other states like KL and Puterajaya. There will be assemblies, poetry recitals, self-defence demonstrations, patriotic performances and some spectator sports, he revealed.

On April 15 and 16, participants from the BIMP-EAGA region will compete in the Nusantara Canoe Race for cash prizes and trophies worth RM20,000. "Supporters could also take part in a unique `canoe tugof-war, and the strongest team will take home some attractive prizes," he added.

The Borneo Cup Yachting Challenge 2006 is going to be held for two days from April 28, when participants will race from Labuan to Miri and be flagged off at the Labuan Harbour Regatta.

The Food and Fruits Festival 2006 meanwhile will be held from July 29 to 30 at the Labuan International Sea Sports Complex.

From August 17 to September 16 next year, the island will hold month long celebrations to mark Malaysia's independence and promote the unity of its various ethnic groups.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

British Zoologists In Sabah To Learn More About Orang Utans

TUARAN -- Two women zookeepers from England's Twycross Zoo are in Sabah preparing for a two-week stay to deepen their knowledge of the orang utans at the primates' Sepilok rehabilitation centre in Sandakan on Sabah's east coast.

Julie Wooley and Ratchell Sellers will leave for the centre, Wednesday under an exchange programme sponsored jointly by Sabah Wildlife Department and Sepilok Orang Utan Appeal UK, a British charitable organisation.

Wooley said she hoped to learn more about the nutrition and behaviour of the primates, and also looked forward to cuddling them.

"In Twycross, the orang utans live in an enclosed area and the baby orang utans are cared for by their own mothers but in Sepilok, the orang utan babies undergoing rehabilitation can be touched and cuddled by visitors," she told reporters at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort Nature Reserve, here Tuesday.

The 25.6ha nature reserve was established by the resort in collaboration with the Wildlife Department in June 1996 to promote rehabilitation programmes for endangered species like the orang utan.

Sellers said she was interested to learn more about the orang utan because this species seemed to be more intelligent and special compared to other primates like chimpanzees which she took care of in Twycross.

Wooley and Sellers will be accompanied by a Sepilok Orang Utan Appeal primatologist Sheena Hynd who has spent six months in Sepilok studying the primates.

Her project is to establish whether any improvements can be made in the rehabilitation process of the orang utans in Sepilok and to determine how well rehabilitated orang utans cope in the wild after their release.

"It would take a long time to draw any result from the studies as one has to follow an orang utan to observe how it lives in the free jungle environment from dusk to dawn," she said, adding that not all orang utans liked to be followed or observed.

Courtesy of BERNAMA

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Surcharge not affecting MAS passengers

ALOR STAR: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is still competitive for international routes despite the upward revision of the surcharge for the international sector, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said Thursday.

He said the revised surcharge was still lower than the rates levied by other international carriers.

"MAS will not suffer a slide in passenger load as the people will have to use flights to go to another country. Furthermore, the surcharge rates are still low compared to other airlines," he told reporters after performing the groundbreaking for construction of a hostel of a Chinese private school, here.

MAS announced revised surcharge rates for international flights effective Wednesday following spiralling jet fuel prices. The surcharge for domestic flights remain.

The surcharge for passengers flying to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North and South America, West Asia and Africa has been increased to US$32 (RM122) from US$28 (RM106) while to Asia to US$16 (RM61) from US$14 (RM53).

This is the third time MAS was raising the surcharge. Chan said the Government allowed MAS to review the surcharge when crude palm oil prices in the world market surpassed RM69 per barrel.

"If the fuel prices escalate further and MAS wants to review the surcharge, it needs approval of the Government, the main stakeholder of the national carrier," he said.

He said while fuel price hikes had burdened the airline, the surcharge imposed by MAS could only meet less than half of the overall fuel costs borne by the airline. For budget airline AirAsia, he said, the carrier could raise the surcharge without government approval.

Courtesy of: Bernama

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Wonders of nature caught in print at Sabah's Tabin Wildlife Reserve


The results of a photography contest have been hailed as a window to the natural wonders of Sabah’s Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

The contest from May to July attracted dozens of entries comprising the landscape, wildlife and plants found in the 121,000ha reserve located about an hour’s drive from the Sabah east coast town of Lahad Datu.

Judges picked the picture of a green serpent in the contrast of an orange background as the winning entry. Titled Jungle Green, the photograph was taken by Australian Robert Muir.

A striking picture of a small lizard struggling futilely on the beak of kingfisher bird as a red ant watched was picked for the second spot. The photograph titled Hope was snapped by Tawau photographer Kong Ket Leong.

Fellow Tawau photographer Winston Tai Yuk Shong walked away with the third prize with a picture of hot mud oozing out of a mud volcano.

The judges, including naturalist and publisher Datuk C.L. Chan, Iskandar Yusof of Tourism Malaysia and veteran photographers Victor Wah and Lain Hain Kong also picked Winston’s picture as having the most creative title: What nature creates, man on earth cannot create.

Two of Kong’s other entries were selected for consolation prizes and these were a photograph of a forest flower just beginning to bloom and that of a tree frog.

Three pictures contributed by Liew Loon Fatt including that of a red stick insect on a leaf, a civet and a white tailed kite were awarded consolation prizes.

Apart from the creatures, Tabin is also home to a seemingly endless variety of wildlife including the renowned Borneo pygmy elephant, bearded pigs and tambadau or wild cattle.

The sanctuary is also home to a big variety of birds. Seven species of the majestic hornbill live in the area and they include the Asian Black, Weathead, Winkled, Bushycrested and Helmetted hornbill.

The contest was organised by Tabin Wildlife Resort and Kota Kinabalu-based Intra Travel Service.

Courtesy of The Star

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Mukah airport in Central Sarawak now serving Fokker aircraft


TRAVELLING to the heartland of the Melanaus in central Sarawak has been made easier as the airport at Mukah has been upgraded to serve Fokker aircraft.

Under a RM9.5mil upgrading project, the runway was extended to 1,500m from 1,100m. Previously, the airport could only accommodate the 19-seater Twin Otter and Donnier aircraft.

Before the upgrading, visitors from Kuching had to fly to Sibu and take a bus to Mukah.

The airport makes it easier for businessmen to travel to the Tanjung Manis integrated timber-processing zone, which was previously accessible only by boat from Sibu or Sarikei.

While launching the upgraded airport recently, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said it would make fast-growing Mukah more accessible to investors, businessmen and tourists.

He said it would help spur economic, tourism and social development in Mukah Division.

“Mukah has undergone great changes in agriculture with the opening of sago and oil palm plantations and padi estates,” added Taib.

He said that more people would now be able to attend the annual Melanau festival, Pesta Kaul, which is a major tourist attraction.

Tourism Minister Datuk Leo Michael Toyad, who hails from Mukah, said the extended Mukah Airport would boost tourism.

Later, Taib toured the new RM48mil Batang Mukah steel arch bridge, a unique landmark in Mukah.

The bridge, which was completed last month, was designed and built by Sarawakians.

Courtesy of The Star

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Museum of Sarawak textiles opens in Kuching

By Sharon Ling

Sarawak Textile Museum opened its doors to the public on Friday, unveiling a collection of fabrics, costumes and weaving traditions of the state’s major ethnic groups.

Set up by the state Museum Department, it is housed at the Pavilion, a colonial-era building opposite the General Post Office in Kuching.

The Chief Minister’s wife Datuk Laila Taib, who opened the museum, said it would inspire local designers to create distinctly Sarawakian designs based on ethnic textiles.

She hoped to see Sarawakian textiles being marketed locally and abroad, and perhaps make an appearance in fashion capitals of the world.

The museum has four main galleries featuring raw materials, weaving, textile motifs and accessories, and bridal wear.

The displays emphasise the diversity of textiles in Sarawak from Iban “pua” weaving and Malay “songket” to intricately beaded Orang Ulu costumes, bark cloth and embroidered Nyonya kebaya blouses.

Three of the kebaya blouses were given by Kho Siew Khuan, 75, who made them in the 1950s.

Kho, who was present at the opening, said she began making and embroidering “kebaya” blouses when she was 19.

“I learnt how to do it by watching my mother sew when I was a girl,” she said, adding that, unfortunately, none of her seven children were interested in taking up the skill as it demanded time and patience.

Besides clothes, the museum exhibits woven baskets and mats along with accessories such as belts and headgear, while large posters explain the various aspects of textile production, including the methods and motifs used.

Courtesy of The Star

Monday, September 12, 2005

Colours of Borneo in Temburong

The region's diverse ethnic groups were in full view Saturday night when dancers from Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak performed at the Community Hall Complex, Temburong during the Borneo 2005 Ethnic Tradition Carnival and Fiesta, organised by Temburong District Tourism Department, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and Temburong District Office. The colourful carnival was aimed at unifying and strengthening the various races in Borneo.

Dance performances from various ethnic groups from Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei was showcased in an event held Saturday night at Community Hall Complex in Pekan Bangar, Temburong.

The event was part of the Borneo 2005 Ethnic Tradition Carnival and Fiesta, co-organised by Temburong District Tourism Department, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and the Temburong District Department.

The guest of honour at the event was the Temburong District Officer.

The event was also attended by a number of officers from Sabah and Sarawak.

Performances included traditional dances from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Lunbawang Traditional Group, Limbang, Sarawak and the Kadazan Traditional Dance Dusun Sipitang, Sabah.

Anak Anak Peranakan Brunei group from Papar also showcased the 'Adai-adai' dance performance.

The Acting Assistant Temburong District Officer stated that the carnival and fiesta this year recorded a historic moment when the performances were telecast live via satellite.

The objective of the carnival was to unify and strengthen the various races in Borneo Island including the Malaysian Federal Territory of Labuan.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

MAS clarifies revised fuel surcharge rates

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) in a statement on Saturday clarified the revised fuel surcharge rates that it announced on Sunday.

MAS said for tickets sold in Malaysia for travellers from the country to Europe, Australia and New Zealand, North and South America, West Asia and Africa, the rate would be increased to US$32 (RM122) from US$28 (RM106) per sector effective Sept 14.

Fuel surcharge for travellers from Malaysia heading to Asia, including Singapore and Brunei, would be increased to US$16 (RM61) from US$14 (RM53) per sector, it added.

“The revised surcharge is applicable for tickets issued on or after Sept 14, for travel on or after Sept 14. The surcharge will be collected at the point of ticketing,” the national carrier said.

For tickets sold outside Malaysia, the fuel surcharge for travel between Malaysia and Europe, Australia and New Zealand, North and South America, West Asia and Africa would be raised from US$28 to US$45 per sector, MAS said.

The rate for travel from Asia, including Singapore and Brunei into Malaysia, would be revised upward to US$20 per sector from US$14 previously, it added.

MAS said the domestic surcharge rates remained unchanged at RM15 for travel between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak as well as RM7.50 for travel within Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak including Rural Air Services.

The national airline said it was also submitting a proposal to the government on a revision of the fuel surcharge quantum as fuel prices continued to rise.

Courtesy of New Sabah Times

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sarawak plans religious tours for Chinese tourists


MIRI: Sarawak's picturesque mosques and temples will be promoted in China to attract more visitors from there.

At the same time, said the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), the state will also promote its halal and vegetarian food through special packages for Chinese tourists.

So, whether “they are Muslims, Buddhists or Taoists,” the Land of the Hornbill will be a delightful place for them to visit, said STB chief executive officer Gracie Geikie.

“Sarawak has some of the most fascinating mosques and temples in the country, especially in Kuching, Sibu and Miri,” she said.

For instance, Kuching's Masjid Jamek is one of the oldest mosques in the country and its Tua Pek Kong temple is also a historical landmark, while Miri's Lian Hua San Ching temple is the largest Taoist temple in South-East Asia.

“There are more than 70 million Muslims in China and hundreds of millions of Buddhists, Taoists and devotees of other religions.

“If we can attract 10% of them to visit Sarawak and Malaysia, it would be a tremendous achievement,” said Geikie.

The state will showcase its variety of Muslim and Chinese food as well as beautiful textiles and other homegrown products that are unique to Sarawak society, she said in an interview.

Geikie said religious tours are something new in Sarawak and, perhaps, even in Malaysia.

“We have yet to fully highlight our religious assets to the rest of the world. Religious tours are big in many countries.

“Many tourists are attracted to the concept of travelling for sightseeing and visiting religious shrines,” she said, adding that Christian tours are already a worldwide norm.

Geikie said Malaysia Airlines was already flying direct between Kuching and several Chinese cities, and has agreed to have flights to Shanghai and Beijing from Miri.

She said that unlike conventional tours when visitors only stay a few days, religious tours could see tourists staying for up to 10 days or more.

Courtesy of The Star

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sabah gazettes forests 26,000ha declared wildlife sanctuary

KOTA KINABALU: Better protection is in store for the wildlife and forests of Sabah’s Lower Kinabatangan region, home to the famed Borneo Pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys and countless species of animals.

The area was finally gazetted on Aug 11 as a wildlife sanctuary under Section 9 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

Under the gazette, 17 parcels of land totalling 26,103ha along Sungai Kinabatangan, the second-longest river in the country, have been declared a wildlife sanctuary.

Of the area, 24,146ha are in Kinabatangan district and the balance in Sandakan district.

In the gazette, the Sabah government also revoked the status of the area as game or bird sanctuary reserves.

Copies of the gazette are available at the state Printing Department for RM3 each.

The gazetting of Lower Kinabatangan came six years after the state government declared the area, with its 100-million-year-old forests, a “Gift to the Earth and Corridor of Life.”

In July, The Star reported that 20% of the sanctuary was under threat by illegal encroachment and logging.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat responded by saying that the gazetting should be finalised by the end of September or early October.

He said Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman had pushed for the sanctuary to be gazetted faster.

Chong, a Deputy Chief Minister, clarified that an aerial check of the area showed that only 1% had been encroached on.

Courtesy of The Star

Friday, September 09, 2005

Celebration of Bidayuh tradition


The Bidayuh community in Bau district of Sarawak presented their traditions with much fun as they celebrated their cultural festival recently.

Called Pirami Litik Adat Bidayuh Bau or Bau Bidayuh Cultural Fest, it was hosted by Kampung Suba Buan, located 8.5km from Bau town.

The one-day fest featured stalls selling Bidayuh delicacies and handicraft as well as a telematch of traditional games, a blowpipe contest, a children’s karaoke competition and a Bidayuh beauty queen contest.

The traditional games required skills not usually associated with telematches.

Instead of running or jumping, competitors needed to know how to grate coconut, sago and tapioca, pound padi and chop wood.

There were also contests involving the making of a nesting place for hens, carrying water in pieces of bamboo and walking on stilts.

Teams from four villages – Kampung Stass, Kampung Stenggang, Kampung Seromah and the host Kampung Suba Buan – took part in the telematch.

The karaoke competition, on the other hand, was open only to children from Kampung Suba Buan aged 15 and below. They were required to sing one Bidayuh song each.

According to village headman Jimbey Nyaim, it was the second year running that Kampung Suba Buan was chosen to host the fest.

He said it was an honour for the village as well as recognition of the village’s motto Bersatu Berusaha Maju and its achievements.

Kampung Suba Buan was the winner in the district-level Fly the Jalur Gemilang contest last year, runner-up in the Kuching division village beautification and cleanliness competition in 2003 and champion of the district-level Love the Environment competition in 1999.

Courtesy of The Star

BIMP-EAGA Trade and Tourism Expo

By Rosli Abidin Yahya

The Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines - East ASEAN Growth Area or BIMP-EAGA Trade and Tourism Expo to be held at The Mall in Gadong from Sept 19 to 23 will be a venue for setting up strategic linkages for joint ventures, exchange of ideas and updating information on technology changes and solutions, the organiser said.

The Transpower Group said the buyer-seller session will group together 100 traders from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines East Asean Growth Area as well as Australia for match-making.

Group executive chairman Hj Ismail Hj Damit said the buyer and seller session will be held on September 22 at the 4th Floor of The Mall.

The expo organiser will also be inviting potential service providers to give, inform and highlight banking procedures and facilities for SMEs.

The organiser believes session participants will benefit from the live face-to-face interactions to recognise and realise prospective partners in products' supply and demand.

Hj Ismail said the session will enable traders to express their needs and know potential partners in advance.

"If they agree on business terms and conditions, they will be signing memorandum of understandings. The session has been recognised as the biggest ever organised here, accommodating better venues for traders towards live intra-activities," he said.

He said the trade and tourism expo that will occupy the Atrium Concourse and the 4th Floor of The Mall has been well-received by local and foreign traders.

Prominent exhibitors include Brunei Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Mindanao Economic Development Cooperation, The Philippines Department of Trade and Industry, Tourism Malaysia and Indonesian Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs.

"The Indonesian ministry shall lead a huge trade delegation representing various kinds of investment companies, manufacturers and producers that shall occupy 15 booths," he said.

He said the private sector is represented by ICT vendors showcasing the latest products.

"Abacus will lead several travel agents offering various holiday packages. A number of exhibitors from the Middle East have confirmed their participation," he said.

He said Sabah will take five booths that display resorts and tourism developments.

Hj Ismail said exhibitors have expressed their interest to visit various authorities here like Brunei Industry Development Authority, and local chambers of commerce and industry.

"They believed that the agencies and organisations they will visit shall provide them better information on industrial development especially on guidelines towards investing in this country," he said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Orang utans feel the squeeze... but there is hope in Malaysia

By Elizabeth John

The orang utan is in danger of losing almost half its habitat in the next five years.

Found only in Borneo and Sumatra, the only great ape that inhabits Asia has a bleak future, according to prediction by the United Nations Environment Programme.

However, Sarawak Forestry Corporation general manager Wilfred Landong said today the State was increasing the habitat of the orang utan and, therefore, the prediction would not apply here.

The UN’s World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation predicts that orang utans in Malaysia and Indonesia could lose 47 per cent of their habitat in the next five years if the current pace of development persists.

This means that by 2032, 99 per cent of orang utan habitat will suffer medium to high impacts from human development. Fewer than 250 wild Sumatran orang utans may exist in the next 50 years due to habitat destruction.

The assessment says poverty in the host countries, growing demand for bush meat, habitat destruction and fragmentation as well as disease are major threats facing the great apes.

Meanwhile, another threat to the orang utan was highlighted today in a separate report by the international wildlife monitoring network Traffic.

It says hundreds of orang utans are either killed or captured every year in Kalimantan, with many of the young sold as pets.

The Atlas, edited at the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, is the most comprehensive compendium of information on great apes ever compiled.

It maps the impact of infrastructure development on six species of wild great apes — the eastern and western gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo, and the Sumatran and Bornean orang utan.

It brings together the latest research and observations from scientists throughout the world, including contributions from British primatologist Jane Goodall and paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey.

Information from the Atlas is being used to focus international attention on an 11th-hour conservation effort aimed at saving the world’s great apes.

This week, countries with great apes are gathering in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, for the first inter-governmental meeting on great apes in the Great Apes Survival Project (Grasp).

A global conservation strategy is expected to be adopted at the meeting.

Malaysia is the only country with orang utans which did not send a delegate to the meeting.

When contacted, Landong said they could not send a delegate as they received the notice of the meeting late.

He said senior officers weren’t able to withdraw from commitments to national environmental meetings.

Responding to the report, Landong said it was not relevant to Sarawak as the State was increasing orang utan habitat.

He said there were an estimated 1,500 orang utans in the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and Batang Air National Park, a contiguous area of over 200,000 hectares bordering Indonesia.

The State was in the process of gazetting more protected areas, including expanding the Lanjak-Entimau sanctuary, he added.

Sabah Wildlife assistant director Augustine Tuuga said they did not send a delegate to the meeting either.

"We felt it was not necessary to join Grasp," he said when contacted today.

Sabah is estimated to have an orang utan population of about 14,000.

Group: They are still traded in Indonesia

ALTHOUGH they are protected by legislation, each year between 200 and 500 Bornean orang utans are traded in Kalimantan, Java and Bali, a report reveals.

Most are sold as pets, according to a two-year study of wildlife markets, private owners, zoological gardens, rescue centres and reintroduction programmes.

An individual orang utan can sell for about US$400 (RM1,500) in Java, about two or three times the original price paid to hunters in Kalimantan.

The report, Hanging in the Balance: An Assessment of the Trade in Orangutans and Gibbons on Kalimantan, Indonesia, was released by wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic Southeast Asia yesterday.

With already low populations, annual removal in such high numbers from the wild could be a death sentence for the population.

Besides hunting and trade to satisfy the demand for pets, orang utans and gibbons in Kalimantan also suffer from the loss of their forest habitat to logging, agriculture and forest fires.
The forests of Kalimantan are home to the Bornean orang utan, Pongo pygmaeus, and two species of gibbon, the Bornean White-bearded gibbon, Hylobates albibarbis, and Müller’s gibbon, H. muelleri. All three are only found here.

From Pontianak, orang utans were allegedly being transported not only to Sarawak but also to Singapore, peninsular Malaysia and on cargo ships to other parts of Asia, noted the report.

However, most were likely to end up being sold within Indonesia, it said.

The main reason for the killing of an adult orang utan or gibbon was to obtain the young. For most orang utans seen in trade, one other, usually its mother, had been killed, said the report.

This means the actual number of orang utans killed or captured each year is likely to be even higher.

Courtesy of New Straits Times

Sarawak's Baram Regatta - Full of history


MIRI: When the Baram Regatta first took place in the remote town of Marudi 106 years ago, it marked the end of the gruesome practice of headhunting and sealed a peace deal among dozens of warring ethnic tribes.

Today, Sarawak wants due recognition to be given to the event.

The state government is appealing to the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry and Tourism Ministry to recognise the regatta as a national event and include it in the national tourism calendar.

Marudi state assemblyman Sylvester Entri Muran said not many people were aware of the regatta's role in racial unification, seeing it only as a sports event.

“The Baram Regatta has tremendous historical significance because quote it was the event that marked the end of the tribal wars among the warring groups and stopped the practice of headhunting,” he said.

According to him, the first regatta was staged 106 years ago following a treaty signed by the British and all the warring tribes.

Through negotiations conducted by the then British district officer Dr Charles Hose and the tribal leaders, it was agreed that the tribes would use the regatta to challenge each other through river races instead of violent conflicts.

“The Baram Regatta is the mother of all regattas in Sarawak. It signalled the start of racial and ethnic unity and consolidation.

“The Government should give this event the recognition it deserves so that the present generation will realise how important it is,” Entri, also state Assistant Minister for Water Supply, said yesterday in an interview.

The first regatta was held in Marudi town (known as Claude Town during the British era) on April 9, 1899. It saw participation from thousands of natives who had previously engaged in violent confrontations over territorial rights.

As heads were considered trophies, the practice of chopping off the heads of rivals was common at that time.

Prospective bridegrooms also used headhunting as a way to prove their masculinity to women in their communities.

Entri said he had spoken with Tourism Minister Datuk Leo Michael Toyad on the matter.

The state, he added, had also invited Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim to this year’s regatta, to be held on Sept 24.

The regatta is held in Marudi town once every three years. Various forms of river races are staged.

Marudi is located some 200km inland from Miri, and serves as the main transit point into the remote Baram district, the heartland of northern Sarawak.

Courtesy of The Star

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu pledges not to start price war


LE MERIDIEN has opened its second hotel in Malaysia with a promise not to kick off a price war among hotels.

Giving the assurance at the soft opening last week, the hotel’s general manager Winston Reinboth said that the promotional price of RM270 against the normal RM350 for a standard room was about the going rate of five-star hotels in the state capital.

“I know there are many people in the industry here watching our pricing.

“But, we don’t intend to go into a price war,” he said at the soft launch of the 307-room hotel, which is expected to be fully operational by early November this year.

Reinboth said the Meridien in Sabah was a blend between a business and leisure hotel that was not in direct competition with the other five-star hotels and resorts in the city.

Reinboth, who personally helped check in the hotel’s first guest, Indonesian business executive Mariany Ham, said that the hotel would be working with state tourism players to bring in tourists.

He was confident that more tourists would be brought in through the Meridien group of hotels worldwide, as well as corporate groups keen to hold meetings in Sabah.

“When Meridien started in Phuket (Thailand), we were among the pioneer hotels and today, the place is booming with tourists,” said Reinboth.

Courtesy of The Star

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Chartered MAS flights to bring in tourists to Miri


FOR the first time next month, Sarawak tourism authorities will bring in two groups of tourists from Beijing and Seoul to Miri by chartered Malaysia Airlines flights.

The South Koreans and Chinese will be flown in separately to visit Miri city, world heritage site Mulu National Park, the prehistoric Niah Caves and for golf and diving at a date to be finalised.

Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said that golf and diving were included in the itinerary as part of a plan to promote culture, adventure and nature.

“Golf is becoming a very popular among South Koreans while more and more mainland Chinese are taking up diving as a hobby.

“We hope to attract them to Sarawak, especially the region surrounding Miri which has great golf and diving spots,” she said when interviewed recently.

Next month, MAS will bring in three groups of tourists by chartered flights from Shanghai.

Currently, only the state capital Kuching has direct international air links.

Geikie stressed it was important to establish direct international air links to Miri so that foreign travellers could have another direct gateway to Sarawak.

“Sarawak is big and it is vital to have more direct entry points so that we can offer a better choice of tour programmes and destinations,” she said.

Courtesy of The Star

Monday, September 05, 2005

Water exciting final day at the Sarawak Regatta

KUCHING: Overturned longboats that threw paddlers into the water provided the extra excitement on the last day of the Sarawak Regatta at the waterfront here.

Some of the teams lost their balance after being hit by the waves during the races which drew thousands of spectators to the Sarawak River bank yesterday.

The annual Tourism Malaysia Calendar event attracted a record 250 entries, including four teams from Brunei, Singapore and Dubai vying for the honours in the tourism category.

The much-publicised all-women team from Dubai was beaten to second placing by the Bruneian team in the 20-paddler event.

The women were trailing some 100m behind. One of the two Singaporean teams came in third.

The Sarawak Regatta, first held in 1872 to herald the New Year during the Rajah Brooke era, has distinct historical and cultural significance.

Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin presented the prizes to the winners.

Courtesy of The Star

KKIA expansion ready in 30 months

Kota Kinabalu: Major works on the expansion of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) terminals and runway will begin this year.

In announcing this, Deputy Chief Minister and State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Tan Sri Datuk Chong Kah Kiat said the project is expected to be completed within 30 months to cater for the projected increase in air traffic.

"KKIA is well positioned to be the eastern gateway into Malaysia and the strategic air-hub for this region.

"Being the second busiest airport in the country after Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), the KKIA has served some 3.9 million passengers last year, an increase of 56 per cent above its operating capacity of 2.5 million passengers," he said at the presentation ceremony of the Sabah Tourism Awards 2005 at Sutera harbour Resort here last night.

On the tourism industry, Chong said Sabah had continued to witness the dramatic growth of the industry due to many direct flights from Australia, China, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand.

For example, visitor arrivals from China increased 98.5 per cent in 2004 over the previous year with the operation of direct MAS flights from cities such as Guangzhou (four times weekly) and Shanghai (thrice weekly).

The introduction of the twice weekly Osaka flights and the additional third Tokyo flight to Kota Kinabalu further boosted Japanese arrivals from 24,500 in 2003 to 44,006 in 2004, an increase of 79.6 per cent, Chong disclosed.

He said with the projected growth of visitor arrivals we expect to see a corresponding growth and development of tourism infrastructure and facilities in the state to cater for the increase.

However, the nature of Sabah's touristic assets and resources calls for sensitive and sustainable development which demands not only in the development of appropriate physical infrastructure but also in the development and maintenance of high standards of services and creation of innovative packages.

New Straits Times journalist Jaswinder Kaur grabbed the Best Tourism Article Award under the Best Malaysia-based Writer category while her sister Harjinder Kler from The Borneo Post grabbed the Best Malaysia-based Writer (Sabah) award.

The Minister's Special Recognition Award went to Reto Klauser, the ex-general manager of the Shangrila's Rasa Ria Resort, Tuaran.

Numerous other awards were also given under various categories such as The Cleanest Town, Best Shopping Complex, Best Entertainment Spot, Best Restaurant, Best Tour Guide, Best Tour Operator, Best Tourist Attraction and Best Hotel Services.

Courtesy of Daily Express

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Big lure of Sarawak Regatta

KUCHING: The Sarawak Regatta, which began at the Waterfront here yesterday, is merrier this year with a record 250 entries, including an all-women team from Dubai.

Organising chairman Abang Affandi Abang Anuar said the team was one of four international squads, with two others from Singapore and one from Brunei.

“The women, wives of expatriates working in Dubai, formed the team with the help of the Sarawak Tourism Board and the Urban Development and Tourism Ministry.

“They will compete in the 20-paddler longboat tourism category with the other international teams.

“They will not just compete against the men only, as the Singapore teams comprise both men and women,” he told reporters yesterday.

Abang Affandi said the competitors, while having fun, would help promote Sarawak as the regatta was an annual event on the state’s tourism calendar.

The tourism category race is slated for this afternoon.

Abang Affandi said the Sarawak Regatta was the culmination of other regattas held earlier in Lawas, Tanjung Manis, Sri Aman and Krian.

“Winning teams from these regattas have converged here to compete against one another,” he added.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who launched the regatta, described the event as “historical” as it was initiated 130 years ago by Rajah James Brooke to turn tribal rivalries into healthy sporting contests.

“Till today, the competitive spirit remains strong among the participants,” he said.

Taib later flagged off one of the heats of the men’s 20-paddler longboat event.

The regatta ends today, with finals in all the categories. The prestigious TYT Challenge Trophy is up for grabs in the 30-paddler longboat race.

Courtesy of The Star

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Crisis: Some Comments From Borneo

From Borneo, our heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which slammed into Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on the US Gulf Coast, and affected several other states.

It may be one of the worst natural disasters in US history, but it was initially not taken much notice here in Malaysian Borneo. The disaster did not even warrant front page news in the daily papers as Malaysia was in the midst of its Independence Day celebration.

It is not that we were unsympathetic or uncaring. Our thoughts went out to the victims and the destruction caused by the deadly ravage.

But this was in America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, and the perennial leader in relief and rescue efforts in other less developed countries. We have been amazed and even inspired by the poise of the US in overcoming the 911 tragedy.

We were sure that they would clean up the mess and evacuate everyone to safety in a day or less. After all, no matter how big a natural disaster, you can always count on the US to come to your rescue.

When the US government’s response and recovery efforts were seemingly not forthcoming by the third day after the catastrophe, we suddenly took notice. But it was the images of the devastation that really caught our attention.

By the infrastructural damages and flooding, we would have thought this looks familiarly like Aceh after the Tsunami.

By the racial composition of the bewildered survivors still trapped in the mostly-submerged city of New Orleans, we could almost swear that this is not the Big Easy, but somewhere in a Third-World African country.

There were looting, gun shots, buildings on fire, and the dead left behind on the street side. There were people starving, suffering and dying. Tourists were still stranded and some were mugged. The whole episode depicts a chaotic and disorganized system of governing.

This is not the America we know. This is a scene from “Escape to New York” or some apocalyptic Hollywood movie.

The lesson learnt here is that even the world’s only Superpower will not be able to withstand the aftermath of a natural misfortune, not only physically and financially, but also socially and politically.

In this respect, the citizens of the world (regardless of creed, religion and race) from the less-developed and developing nations, should come together to dig deep into our hearts to see how we can offer some form of assistance (e.g., donations, prayers, etc.) to ease the plights of the victims.

Our best wishes for a speedy evacuation, recovery, and restoration process.

The Editor,
Travel Borneo Blog

Relief Effort: How to Help

The US Emergency management officials recommend that those wishing to assist Hurricane Katrina victims give cash donations and resist going to affected areas. Donations can be made to charitable organizations recommended by the US's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the following URL:

For online donation, you can visit the special site donated by Yahoo! for contribution to the American Red Cross' Hurricane 2005 Relief at the URL below:

Friday, September 02, 2005

Lambir Forest Challenge 2005

The 3rd Lambir Rainforest Challenge which will be held at the Lambir National Park in Miri on September 25, which is organised by the Miri Resident Office in collaboration with the Ministry of Urban Development and Tourism, Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Sarawak Tourism Board.

The unique Lambir Rainforest Challenge 2005 is listed in the Malaysia tourism calendar, and this year's race will be the first to be held since Miri attains city status.

The respective reigning men and women champions - Sefli Ahar of Brunei Darussalam and Hasny Salagan from Sabah - will also take part this year to defend their titles as the king and queen of Lambir.

The 2005 prize money totalled some RM22,950, and the organisers has added another category in the competition - for 46 years and above. This year's route will range from easy to extreme.

Interested participants may obtain entry forms from the Miri Resident or District Office or from Thompson Jerry (tel: 006085 430210).

Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu opened its doors to guests

Kota Kinabalu: The five-star Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu opened its doors to guests Thursday, the latest addition to the number of international hotels recognising Sabah's rising importance as a premier tourist destination in Borneo, in general, and Malaysia in particular.

It is the second Le Meridien hotel in Malaysia, following the first that opened in Kuala Lumpur last year. Currently, there are 137 luxury and upscale Le Meridien hotels in 56 countries located in top cities throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, Africa and Middle East.

Its General Manager, Winston L. Reinboth, said the hotel has 306 rooms, 32 of which are suites plus a presidential suite priced at RM3,500 per night.

However, only 127 rooms are available thus far at special rates inclusive of breakfast for two during the months of September and October.

"We expect full occupancy in late November or early December since it is the peak months for hotels in Sabah," he said at it's soft launch.

In line with the Government's call for 5-star hotels nationwide to offer minimum rates of USD$80 (RM288) by next year, he said those offered by Le Meridien are relatively cheap for European travellers.

Reinboth said the hotel, located in the heart of downtown Kota Kinabalu, offered guests easy access to local attractions, the commercial district, retail and entertainment facilities, many of them within walking distance.

It is the fifth and latest hotel hugging the coastline stretching from Tanjung Aru to Likas to capitalise on the scenic vistas offered by the five outlying islands and South China Sea.

"The hotel is only minutes from soft adventure, beaches and golfing and also the ideal location for business travellers, a leisure stay or alternatively for meetings and incentives," he said.

Nevertheless, the hotel aims to build its image as a business and leisure accommodation facility for meetings and trans-independent travellers, among others, he said.

The meeting and event facilities are located on the third floor comprising three meeting rooms equipped with the latest in modern technology and boasts an impressive view of the South China Sea.

Reinboth said the main ballroom could accommodate up to 360 guests for banquets. "The banqueting area is not as large as other resorts (operating within the city area) and we don't intend to compete with them on this aspect.

"And we can only handle one major group at a time unlike other resorts which can accommodate up to several groups," he said.

For leisure, he said the hotel features a gym with modern weight and cardiovascular equipment including an outdoor pool with full panoramic sea views and complemented with a pool bar.

The hotel also offers a restaurant facility, a cigar room and lounge.

Reinboth said the property was purchased in January this year with the deal signed on June 3. On why Kota Kinabalu was chosen as Le Meridien's second location in Malaysia, he said the city had huge potential as a major regional centre for business.

"The Government and tourism board has also been very supportiveÉwe can expect to see tremendous growth in the capital and there will be a lot of demand for accommodation facilities."

Its presence would lead to healthy competition between the international hotels operating in the State capital. He would be working closely with the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) on matters pertaining to tourism.

Reinboth said it would also benefit the local community in terms of employment opportunity, the majority of the 200-strong staff being Sabahans.

When fully operational, the hotel expects to have about 237 staff to run the daily operations.

Le Meridien was established in 1972 by Air France to provide a "home from home for its customers" with its first facility, a 1,000-room hotel in Paris that was named Le Meridien Etoile.

In late 1994, Le Meridien was acquired by UK hotel giant, Forte, which in turn was acquired by the Granada Group in 1996.

In April 2000, it signed a global strategic alliance with Japan's Nikko Hotels International while in December, 2000, Lehman Brothers Holding acquired the senior debt of Le Meridien.

Reinboth said several facilities would be launched in Thailand and China next year. It has 26 offices worldwide while its head office located in London.

Meanwhile, Mariany Ham, an Application Consultant for Hotel Systems for Micros-Fidelio Singapore Pte Ltd, was Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu's first guest.

"I certainly feel great being the first customer and I will definitely come back to the same hotel on my next trip," she said. Although not her first time in Sabah, it was definitely a surprise being the first customer for the hotel.

Courtesy of Daily Express

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Malaysia Merdeka (Independence) Day

Yesterday (31 August) was Malaysia's independence day. Thousands attended State-level parades and festivities, which was held throughout the country to mark the nation’s 48th National Day.

The Malaysian Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak also joined in the colourful Merdaka celebration in a dazzling show of patriotism and national pride.

In Kapit, which hosted the Sarawak-level Merdeka celebrations, more than 2,200 participants from 54 contingents took part in a parade at the sports complex.

In Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, the state Merdeka Day parade took on a colourful ethnic twist with dancers garbed in the traditional costumes of its indigenous communities performing the sumazau of the Kadazandusuns, the daling daling of the Suluks, and the monggigol of the Rungus.

Sabah leaders also rightfully reminded the nation that "Malaysia is 42, not 48 years old" as reported in The Star by Ruben Sario as follows:

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah leaders want to set the record straight: the National Day that the state and neighbouring Sarawak will be celebrating is for 42 years of independence – not 48.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said that while the states in the peninsular became independent on Aug 31, 1957, the two eastern Malaysian states ceased to be British colonies on Aug 31, 1963.

“Sabah was, therefore, literally a nation before Malaysia was formed.

“Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah were formalised as Malaysia under the Malaysia Agreement on Sept 16, 1963,” he said.

“Malaysia is therefore only 42 years old today, not 48.

“Let us not continue this unnecessary distortion of history,” said the United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation president in his National Day message.

“The time has come for us to express openly what is on the lips of many Malaysians in Sabah and, perhaps, in Sarawak, too,” said Dompok.

Deputy Chief Minister and Parti Bersatu Sabah president Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan shares this sentiment in his message.

He added that Sept 16 should be a significant date in the country's history, as important as Aug 31.

In his National Day message, Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said Malaysia came into being 42 years ago and had since overcome numerous political, economic and social obstacles because of the people’s perseverance and hard work.