Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kaamatan Traditional Shows Strengthen Cultural Understanding

PENAMPANG -- Traditional shows put up during Pesta Kaamatan can strengthen cultural understanding between the various races and ethnic groups in Sabah.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the understanding forged via dances and exhibitions will strengthen unity and make them recognise and accept the heritage.

"This makes Sabah the best model for 1Malaysia Concept that should be joined by all regardless of political leaning", he said at the closing of Sabah Pesta Kaamatan at Hongkod Koisaan here Tuesday.

He believed that the spirit of Pesta Kaamatan will remain and used as a unifying platform by the people of Sabah.

Continue reading at: Kaamatan Traditional Shows Strengthen Cultural Understanding

Unlocking village's tourism potential at Kadazandusun Cultural Village

KOTA KINABALU: A new era beckons the cultural village in the compound of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association building, also known as the Hongkod Koisaan or "Place of Unity".

A suspension bridge, a handicraft centre, a landscape garden with a pond and a fully functional stage look set to become the latest attractions complementing the 11 traditional houses at the cultural village.

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

Tapping Sabah's booming tourism industry, a team dedicated to promoting the assets within the Hongkod Koisaan grounds has been set up to showcase the unique cultures and traditions of the people here.

The venture's chairman, Datuk Richard Bainon, said the Hongkod Koisaan was a magnet for revellers during the final week of the month-long Pesta Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) celebration in May but remained idle the rest of the year except for a few activities.

"We plan to bring guests from all over the world to the place regularly and introduce them to the culture and traditions we have in Sabah," said Bainon, who is also the KDCA deputy president.

There will also be stage shows with performances from the various ethnic groups in Sabah, interactive exhibitions inside the 11 traditional houses showcasing the lifestyles of the people and sale of handicrafts.


Kaamatan kicks off with fun and games

KOTA KINABALU: An age old Dusun ritual to appease the rice spirits took centrestage at the two-day state level Pesta Kaamatan harvest celebrations.

The ritual known as Bobogo to mark a bountiful padi harvest was performed by a group of Tatana Dusuns from Kuala Penyu in southwest of Sabah and leading them was a chief priest known as Babaga.

The ritual was then followed by Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman and Kadazandusun paramount leader (Huguan Siou) Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan trying their hand at making a sago delicacy known as ambuyat.

Musa later beat the gong to mark the start of the Pesta Kaamatan celebrations at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association grounds in Penampang here yesterday.

The colourful annual celebrations of the Kadazandusun, Murut and Rungus communities saw a series of 11 traditional games, which included a tug-of-war match in which Musa and other VIPs took part.

Among the other games played were rampanau (bamboo stilt walking), mipulos (arm wrestling), momolistik (catapult), membujak (spearing), sumpit (blowpipe), pounding padi husks and gunny sack race.

Visitors were entertained with traditional music and dance by the various ethnic groups at this year's celebrations themed “Cultural Understanding The Way Forward”.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Kaamatan kicks off with fun and games

Gawai Dayak Best Celebrated At The Longhouse

KANOWIT (Sarawak) -- The longhouse is the place to be when the Dayak community in Sarawak ushers in the annual Gawai Dayak harvest festival at midnight tonight.

Most of the 5,000 longhouses and villages across the state will reverberate with rejoicing as the community of Iban, Bidayuh and others, making up 40 per cent of the state's 2.4 million population, begin the celebrations.

The community will usher in the festival with a toast of the "Ai Pengayu" or longevity drink, which is usually the "tuak" made of fermented glutinous rice.

This will be preceded by Christian prayers by some and the traditional "miring" and "bebiau" ritual offering by others, seeking God's blessings for a better harvest, health and fortune for the coming year.

The toast is a highlight of the Gawai, said longhouse chief Mathew Sembilan anak Asap, 63, from Nanga Tada here.

"In all longhouses, each family will contribute their "tuak" and an assortment of tidbits for the gathering at the "ruai" or public gallery of the longhouse.

"Of course, before the feast begins, the chiefs or their deputies or elected representatives will make the traditional speeches, offering well wishes," he said.

After the "Ai Pengayu" toast, the feasting and revelry will go on until dawn. Fire crackers and fireworks will be let off as the people feast on chicken, fish and pork and curries as well as the "kuih lapis"(Sarawak's famous layer cake) and the traditional "kuih chuan" and "sarang semut" biscuits.

"To enjoy the festival at its best, the longhouse is the place to be. This is the reason why folks from far away will make a beeline for their homes in the last week of May each year," said Mathew, a former RTM Iban journalist.

Continue reading at: Gawai Dayak Best Celebrated At The Longhouse

Monday, May 30, 2011

Kaamatan, Gawai Dayak Festivals Worthy Of World Attention

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Kaamatan and Gawai Dayak festivals celebrated by ethnic communities in Sabah and Sarawak this week serve as an opportunity for Malaysians to showcase the country's cultural and ethnic diversity to the world.

The Prime Minister expressed hope that Malaysians living in Borneo would share their rich culture with other people with pride, including with fellow Malaysians from the peninsula.

Najib said peninsular Malaysians should take the opportunity to learn more about the country's cultural heritage.

"We shouldn't forsake our age-old traditions that bind us as one race, as we strive to transform Malaysia into a developed nation of high income.

"It all starts with our homeland, the need for us to appreciate our rich cultural heritage," Najib wrote in a posting on his www.1malaysia.com.my blogsite Monday.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Homestay Programme A Boon Or Bane For Sarawak Tourism Industry?

KUCHING -- Registered homestay programme operators in Sarawak are crying foul over an increase in the number of illegal homestay facilities in the state.

Sarawak Homestay Association chairman Mahmud Sabli said with no specific laws to punish such offenders, it would be hard to take action against them.

"The best that we can do now is to demand stricter enforcement against them, either by local councils, or the federal Tourism Ministry," he told Bernama here Sunday.

Mahmud said the association had received feedback on the illegal homestay in Sarawak with some even going as far as to advertise their 'illegal' homestay programmes on the internet.

Feedback received by Bernama showed that there were more than 100 homestay operators in Sarawak who are registered with the Tourism Ministry but due to lack of enforcement, there has been an increase in the number of illegal homestay in the state.

Although there were no specific figures available for the state, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen was quoted on Feb 8, that was an expected 900 unlicensed homes or budget hotels using the homestay status in the country.

She suggested that to fight the rising problem of illegal homestay, stricter issuance of homestay permits by local councils was needed to allow only those registered with the Tourism Ministry to provide such services.

Meanwhile, Jamilah Shukri who runs a successful Santubong Homestay about 30km from here said there was a lot of misconception in registering homestay programmes.

"Actually the state and federal government had made it easier to legalise their operation by setting a standard regulation and attending a course that is free of charge," she said.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Vying for Unduk Ngadau title can cost a lot

KOTA KINABALU: No pain, no gain. That is true in a beauty pageant, including the Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan contest that involves having to use specific costume, hairdo and makeup.

The mother of one of the Unduk Ngadau finalists this year said the higher the level of competition, the higher the cost.

“If you want to win a beauty pageant, you’d better be prepared to spend a pretty penny and before you get to the pageant, there are clothes, hair and makeup costs that you should think of.

“In the Unduk Ngadau competition, the district level competition would only need a few hundred ringgit but once chosen to be in the state level competition, you are talking of thousands of ringgit,” said Emelty Sebastian who accompanied her daughter at the registration session of the annual beauty pageant at Le Meridien Hotel yesterday morning.

Without any expectation to win the state level competition, Emelty is trying to do the best for her daughter, Magdeline Evone Michael of Kunak.

She told The Borneo Post that even though she had to spend about RM700 only for the makeup and hairdo for the three events in the five-day Unduk Ngadau journey, there were many other things that they had to prepare right after her daughter was crowned as the Kunak Unduk Ngadau recently, including clothes, shoes, jewellery and others.

That will be the cost for a mother like Emelty.

As for the contestants, the pain will be the suffering from strict diets in order to stay slim and look nice.

Continue reading at: Vying for Unduk Ngadau title can cost a lot

Sibu's green jewel


Sibu, 60 kilometres upriver from the South China Sea, began life in the 1850s as a tiny Melanau encampment, and has grown into Sarawak's third largest city, with a population of over 200,000, and its biggest port.

One of the first things that visitors will notice in Sibu is an abundance of gardens and public parks with a variety of flowering shrubs and shady trees.

Beautiful and well-maintained, they have become popular places for locals and visitors alike to relax and enjoy the surroundings teeming with lush green and serene water features.

The jewel among these is Bukit Aup Jubilee Park, winner of numerous national awards as well as home to the popular annual Bukit Aup Jubilee Run that attracts thousands of participants annually.

Legend has it that the park used to be the dwelling place of an Iban princess called Naga Bari. She was said to be beautiful, kind and caring towards her subjects. Unfortunately, there are scarcely any written records of the princess and she remains a mystery though she is certainly remembered among the Ibans.

Another account of the story states that there were six Iban warriors, who together with Naga Bari protected the community around the area in the early days.

Today, the 22-hectare park is a popular place for leisure activities including picnics, nature walks, exercise and photography.

Set in a cluster of hillocks in an otherwise flat plain, its observation tower provides a panoramic view of Sibu town and the countryside.

Other facilities include a children's playground, a suspension bridge, a garden of meditation, sky steps, a pavilion, an amphitheatre, a large koi pond, a lagoon, a canteen and gazebos.

Bukit Aup is widely recognised all over Borneo for its mystical power for good fortune and health. Hundreds of Iban go to the park every year to seek the blessings of Naga Bari. They believe that the place is sacred and that those who come to seek her divine assistance would be rewarded.

A small pond, named in Naga Bari's honour, midway up the hill is one of the most popular stops for visitors. Legend has it that the pond has never dried up even in times of drought since it was dug, possibly about the time when the first Iban settled in the area.

The spot is where visitors give their offerings to Naga Bari. The pool is believed to help any childless couple wishing to conceive and students who pray for good examination results.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Kaamatan and Gawai Harvest Festival 2011

In conjunction with the cultural Harvest Festival celebrations ("Kaamatan" in Sabah; and "Gawai" in Sarawak), e-borneo.com would like to wish all Kadazans, Dusuns, Muruts, Rungus, etc. as well as the Dayaks a Happy and Safe Harvest Festival.

"Kaamatan" culminates on 30 and 31 May of each year, which are public holidays for the state of Sabah, whereas, the "Gawai" or "Gawai Dayak" on 01 and 02 June, which are also an official holiday for Sarawak.

In view of the State-wide celebrations, our office will be closed from Saturday, 28 May 2011 until Wednesday, 1st June 2011.

For travel and related requests, do note that all your e-mails enquiries may be replied to during this holiday period (depending on priority and/or importance) but earliest confirmation can only be processed on Wednesday, 1st June 2011 (working hours +0800 GMT MYT).

Any inconvenience caused is very much regretted.

Warmest Regards,

Management and Staff
[ Travel Company of e-borneo.com ]

Lot No. 7, 2nd Floor, Block C
Lintas Jaya Uptownship
88200 Penampang
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Tel: +6-088-722606
Fax: +6-088-727606
URL: http://www.e-borneo.com/


New Itinerary For This Year's Kaamatan Celebration

PENAMPANG (Sabah) -- Over the years, local residents and tourists have been flocking to Hongkod Koisaan (which means the Unity Hall in the Kadazan language), the venue for the state level Kaamatan festival held every May 30 and 31.

Regular or repeat visitors already familiar with the traditional houses, the multipurpose hall and the handicraft and food stalls erected around the vicinity know what to expect during the two-day programme.

However, this year the organizer, the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA)of Sabah, has decided to go for a major revamping, therefore visitors to the event can expect a refreshing change, both with the itinerary and the facilities for the harvest festival.


The renewal literally starts at the doorstep, with visitors greeted by the 'KDCA Cultural Village' arch which leads them to a hanging bridge with a man-made pond underneath.

After crossing the bridge, there is a new open stage on the left, and just further up, a handicraft outlet awaits those interested in bringing home souvenirs. It would be hard not to notice the new cafe next to it.

Also, some of the traditional houses now sport a new look.

"Renovation work on landscaping and those on traditional houses started about two months ago."

"Most of the houses have been given touch-ups, but we even went to the extent of demolishing one of the houses, namely the Tambunan house, and erected a new one," said KDCA Secretary General Suman Yasambun.


While some may think that all the preparations may be too much, compared with previous years, there is actually another reason for it.

After the Kaamatan celebrations end, the KDCA Cultural Village will be promoted as a tourism destination through a joint venture company to generate year-round economic activities at Hongkod Koisaan.

KDCA and Tombituon Enterprise had jointly established KDCA Cultural Village Sdn Bhd to manage the Cultural Village, which would largely promote the 11 traditional houses through daily activities for visitors and tourists.

"Over the years, local and international tourists alike have been crowding this place during the Kaamatan state-level event.

"KDCA is embarking on this new area of advancement, we want to use these traditional houses for money-making activities," said Suman.

At the same time, they also hope to provide an educational avenue for students and younger people, to remind them of traditional cultures and their ancestor's activities through demonstrations to be held at the houses.

"Most of the youths nowadays are not familiar with their own cultural background, so if we introduce this tourism product, it can also give them some knowledge and maybe they will get to know traditional rituals or tools used from the olden days," he explained.


On the itineraries, the highlight of the celebration is the Unduk Ngadau or the Harvest Festival beauty pageant.

George Mijin, the programme head for the state-level Kaamatan celebration, said that previously the event was held on the second afternoon with results expected at the end of the day.

However, this time around the first round will be held on the morning of the first day and the 15 short-listed finalists will continue on to the finals on the second day.

"The beauty contest is usually held inside the multipurpose hall, but this year we will hold the first round on May 30 at the open stage to accommodate a bigger audience."

At the same time, George said that this year's state-level Kaamatan celebration will also showcase, for the first time, a 'menabib' demonstration, which is the ancestral art of making 'lokub'(rope) using rattan.

This rope, back in the old days, was tied onto the buffalos' pierced nose and used to pull the animal, he explained.

"This demonstration is specifically requested by our KDCA President, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, and the art originates from Tambunan, his district of origin," he added.

Another new element that the public will get to see this year is the symbolic 'moginum orang tatana' ceremony during the launch of the celebration, which is unique to the district of Kuala Penyu, which is the district chosen for the launch of the next Kaamatan festival, said George.

Continue reading at: New Itinerary For This Year's Kaamatan Celebration

Plan to build WWII memorial garden at Batu Lintang, Kuching

KUCHING: The Tourism and Heritage Ministry will look into the plan proposed by Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) to build a World War Two memorial garden and to upgrade a museum at Batu Lintang.

“The proposal will need to be studied to find out what can be done.

“We will need to work with the British, Australian and even Japanese governments on this. If they could reconcile and work together to build the museum, we will support it,” said its minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg yesterday.

Earlier, STF Heritage Development Committee chairman Lim Kian Hock in his briefing said the proposed project would include the development of a memorial square, a Japanese garden and sculptures as well as the development of a wartime heritage museum and restoration of a Punjabi Barrack.

“There are even remains of a Japanese bunker. We would like to request that the Sarawak Museum team excavate the area to find artefacts that could be valuable contribution to our wartime history,” Lim said.

He added that, should the project take place, STF would collaborate with the Australian ANZAC group and also the British Commission in Kuala Lumpur to make the memorial more complete and meaningful to remember those who had lost their lives in the war.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

An unforgettable climb - Tips and guidelines for conquering Mount Kinabalu

If experiencing the natural beauty of a tropical rainforest and mighty mountains sounds like your dream vacation, then Mount Kinabalu might just be your ideal destination, and a truly once in a lifetime experience.

For centuries, stunning images of Mount Kinabalu have captured the interest and imagination of explorers and travellers from around the world. Even today, the towering granite peak and natural wonders of Mount Kinabalu remain strong attractions for mountaineers who climb to the summit just to get a glimpse of the breathtaking sunrise at 4,095m above sea level.

Situated in the East Malaysia state of Sabah on the island of Borneo, Mount Kinabalu is famed for its biological diversity. And with a height ranging from 500 to 4,000m, the mountain is home to many varieties of flora and fauna. In fact, Kinabalu Park has documented more than 608 species of ferns, which exceeds the number of species found entirely in mainland Africa. Kinabalu Park is roughly 80km east of Kota Kinabalu (formerly Jesselton), the capital of Sabah state in Malaysia.

From the foot of the mountain to the summit plateau, visitors get a chance to gradually see all the different flower and plant species, from small ferns and moss with tiny flowers in the tropical rainforest to an array of subalpine plants close to the summit throughout their ascent.

Though the trail to the summit is less than nine kilometres long, most mountaineers need two days to scale up the steep slope, while contending with thin air, before reaching the rocky granite peaks of Mount Kinabalu. However, to experience the natural wonders up close and be able to look down the mountain after a long ascent is well worth the climb.

All who wish to climb Mount Kinabalu must buy a climbing permit and book accommodation in advance before heading to Sabah, as the hotels there can accommodate only 150 people per night; most climbers stay overnight at Laban Rata Resthouse since it offers heated units _ the only other lodging that has heated units is Gunting Lagadan Hut _ and it has the only restaurant. It is recommended that visitors book five months in advance.

All climbers must also notify the park one day before climbing.


Top three winners of Unduk Ngadau stand to become MASwings cabin crew

KOTA KINABALU: The top three winners of the upcoming State-level Kaamatan Festival Unduk Ngadau pageant stand a chance of being recruited to work as a cabin crew for MASwings.

“If they wish to join as cabin crew, 50 per cent is already considered acceptable while the other qualities will be looked into during the interview. They will also become our icons in billboards to reflect our identity,” said MASwings managing director, Dato’ Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang.

He said this at the presentation of sponsorship to the State-level Kaamatan Festival, organising committee chairperson, Jornah Mozihim, in a form of a business class fare for the champion and an economy class fare for the first and second runner-up at a hotel yesterday.

The sponsorship tickets covers air travel to any destinations in Sarawak and Sabah served by MASwings, as well as the BIMP-EAGA region such as Brunei and Kalimantan, which the airline is still awaiting for approval from the respective governments.

Nawawi said they are eyeing to start operations in July to provide services to and from Kota Kinabalu to Bandar Seri Begawan and Kuching to Pontianak. Then, in October, the service from Kuching-Mulu-Bandar Seri Begawan and Kota Kinabalu-Tawau-Tarakan is expected to be launched.

These are all viable routes which are under ‘MASwings International’ programme and also within the operating capacity of the aircraft which is one hour, he said.

On their sponsorship for the Kaamatan Festival, he said it is under their newly launched programme called ‘Wings of Love’.

“Since we are serving here, in future we want Sabah and Sarawak to consider that this airline belongs to them. Furthermore, 90 per cent of our staff come from these two states and we also want to position MASwings as the icon for Sabah and Sarawak,” he stated.

Continue reading at: Top three winners of Unduk Ngadau stand to become MASwings cabin crew

Sarawak Art Museum holds Gawai exhibition

KUCHING: The Sarawak Art Museum is holding the Gawai Exhibition 2011 to promote and educate visitors on the rich culture of the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu communities.

Themed ‘Gawai Customs and Traditions’, the exhibition will run until the end of June.

“Our main objective of this exhibition is to introduce the customs and traditions found during the Gawai celebration. Throughout the exhibition, we will also try to get ‘live’ cultural performances to celebrate Gawai until its closing ‘Ngulung Tikai’ celebration,” said Sarawak Museum acting director Dr Charles Leh when officiating at the opening on Tuesday.

“These exhibits would focus on promoting the true meaning of the Gawai Dayak celebration to locals and foreign visitors alike.”

He was representing Sarawak Museum department director Ipoi Datan.

Through the years, he said, the Sarawak Museum had worked hard to document the different Gawai of the state’s various ethnic groups.

“As custodian of our rich culture, protected under the Sarawak Heritage Ordinance 1993, we are tasked with keeping our oral tradition and material culture intact, not only in the storage of the museum but also in practice.

“We are organising many topical exhibitions from this year onwards to showcase our rich heritage.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Art Museum holds Gawai exhibition

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

MASwings Set To Fly To Brunei and Pontianak Soon

KOTA KINABALU -- MASwings, which currently operates within Sabah and Sarawak, is expected to commence flights to Brunei and Pontianak, Indonesia, soon.

Its managing director, Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang, said MASwings had already submitted the proposal to the Transport Ministry for approval.

"Based on the positive response from the ministry, I'm quite confident that the flights from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei and from Kuching to Pontianak (West Kalimantan) will take off on July 1 or in July," he said during a luncheon with the media here today.

He said if these flights were successful, MASwings planned to introduce flights from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau and Tarakan (East Kalimanan) and also from Kuching to Mulu and Brunei in October.

"Plans are also in the pipeline for other destinations within BIMP-EAGA region and we hope to provide flight services from Sabah and Sarawak to major cities such as Palawan and Mindanao in Southern Philippines as well as Manado in Sulawesi, Indonesia, in the future," he said.

BIMP-EAGA stands for Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), a subregional economic cooperation initiative in Southeast Asia.

Mohd Nawawi said MASwings was aware of the need to improve air connectivity within this region as it was constantly discussed among leaders of the BIMP-EAGA member countries at meetings of the grouping.

Apart from that, he said MASwings would also explore the possibility of embarking on international flights from Sabah and Sarawak with immediate focus being on the Kota Kinabalu-Kuala Lumpur and Kuching-Kuala Lumpur sectors.

Continue reading at: MASwings Set To Fly To Brunei and Pontianak Soon

Mount Tambuyukon, Sabah's third highest peak to be promoted

Sabah wants to promote Mount Tambuyukon, its third highest peak to avoid overcrowding and to protect the heritage site of Mount Kinabalu.

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said that Kinabalu Park is not the only spot offering the best view of Mount Kinabalu.

Equally impressive sights of the highest mountain in South East Asia can be seen from Tamparuli, Ranau, Kota Belud and Tuaran.

He said this at the EAC photography competition prize giving ceremony held at the State Library near here yesterday.

According to Masidi, only 192 people are allowed to climb up the mountain daily to avoid overcrowding and to protect the heritage site.

To avoid disappointing those eager to experience the mountain, he urged the introduction of packages which allow visitors to explore the foot of Mount Kinabalu.

His ministry, through the Sabah Parks, hopes to divert visitors eager to ascend the highest peak in Sabah to other places within Sabah that offer equally remarkable sightings and experiences of the mountain.


1.1 mln hectares for nature conservation in Sarawak

KUCHING: The state will not neglect nature conservation in the quest to sustain physical development, said Assistant Minister of Planning and Resource Management Mohd Naroden Majais.

He said this is because the state acknowledges the importance of providing ample land for conservation of wild life habitats.

According to him, the state is targeting to gazette a total land area of 1.1 million hectares by the year 2020 as national parks, nature reserves and wild life sanctuaries known also as totally protected areas (TPA).

Naroden disclosed that to date, the state already has about 780,000 hectares of TPAs with more than half trans-boundary in nature.

Among them are Batang Ai National Park and Lanjak Entimau Wild Life Sanctuary with a total area of about 1,927 square kilometres, which are adjacent to Indonesia’s Bentung Kerihun National Park in Kalimantan.

“It becomes a policy tool for us (state government) and helps in improving state laws in protecting wildlife,” he said at the opening of ‘Heart of Borneo: Wild life crime buster’ course for investigators and prosecutors, at Pullman Hotel, here yesterday.

Naroden, who is also Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office, pointed out that the state already has laws to protect wildlife, among them the Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998 and National Parks and Nature Reserves Ordinance, 1998, which were being enhanced from their 1958 and 1990 editions.

He explained that the enhancement was carried out following the state’s acceptance of the Sarawak Wild Life Master Plan, a report prepared for the state in collaboration with Wildlife Ordinance Society in 1998.

Continue reading at: 1.1 mln hectares for nature conservation in Sarawak

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Improved KK Jazz Fest in store

Kota Kinabalu: One of the striking differences about this year's KK Jazz Festival is its line up, which includes international names and highly talented local bands and singers.

Acknowledging the immense talent of the people from the Land Below the Wind, KKJF serves as a stage in showcasing our local artists. Celebrity DJ Serena C will be emcee for the event.

This was disclosed by the 5th KK Jazz Festival 2011 Committee when they paid a Courtesy Call on Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Environment Sabah recently.

The Organizing Committee members briefed the officials of the Ministry about the latest developments of the 5th KK Jazz Festival 2011 scheduled to be held on 17 & 18 June 2011 (Friday & Saturday ) at the Covered Tennis Court, Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club.

Rotary Club Vice President Jack Ong said the event is an annual fund raising jazz extravaganza jointly organized by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) and the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (SPArKS).

"Jazz Music and all art is an essential part of the 'human experience'.

A basic understanding and appreciation of music can only serve to broaden ones character and deepen the connection with those around us.

I fully support this event and I hope that people out there support this event by purchasing tickets," said Masidi.

This year, KKJF is giving away 4 units of HTC ARIA, 2 units of Blackberry Bold 9700 and 2 units of Blackberry Curve mobile phones during the lucky draw over the two nights of the festival, prizes courtesy of Digi (winners will have to sign up for a Digi plan).

Continue reading at: Improved KK Jazz Fest in store

Kalstar launches Kuching-Jakarta route

KUCHING: Kuching International Airport (KIA) now offers connectivity to Jakarta through Kalstar Aviation, which made their maiden flight here yesterday.

The maiden flight, which arrived with Indonesian tourism players and media, utilises its newly-furbished Boeing 737-300 aircraft which has the capacity to carry 148 passengers.

The inclusion of Kalstar brings the number of airlines operating at KIA to eight.

The others are Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia, Firefly, Batavia Air, Royal Brunei Airlines, Tiger Airways and Silk Air.

Kalstar commenced scheduled daily flights for the Jakarta-Pontianak-Kuching and vice versa route with arrival in Kuching at 9:45am and departure for Pontianak at 10.15am every day.

“Malaysia Airports (MAB) welcomes Kalstar’s operations to KIA and wishes them all the best for this service. We are delighted with this as it offers connection to Jakarta, with stopover at Pontianak, which will benefit passengers from Sarawak in terms of choices.

“MAB is actively collaborating with the government to ensure that we maximise the effectiveness of our marketing investment to attract new airlines and establish new routes,” Malaysia Airports managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad said.

Meanwhile Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chairman Dato Rashid Khan said the route would profit Kalstar as well as tourism stakeholders in the state.

“We will further the cooperation between tourism stakeholders in both countries by organising more promotional campaigns such as participating in trade shows and travel fairs in Indonesia and we will also arrange for Indonesian stakeholders to come here,” he said.

The flight is seen as a welcome addition to Kalstar’s route expansion and the airline looks forward to continuous growth for this operation.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Kalstar launches Kuching-Jakarta route

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bridging the gap for Orang Utan migration

KINABATANGAN: Several organisations have joined hands with the Sabah Wildlife Department to re-build a rope bridge for Orang Utans, which had collapsed due to severe floods at the Takala River, a tributary of the Kinabatangan.

Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu said artificial bridges at the tributaries along the Kinabatangan, Sabah’s longest river, allowed the Orang Utan to migrate from one patch of forest to another.

Those extending their support to the department were the Danau Girang Field Centre, community-based organisations Hutan and Mescot, Ropeskills Rigging Sdn Bhd and non-governmental organisation (NGO) Borneo Conservation Trust Japan.

“This project is made all the more special by the fact that the Japanese NGO felt the project was important enough to pursue, despite the national difficulties it faces in Japan, following the earthquake and tsunami.

“Veterinarians, scientists and staff from Japanese zoos have joined the team,” Laurentius said in a statement yesterday.

Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens said Orang Utans in the Kinabatangan area were becoming isolated as their ability to move around was restricted by rivers and man-made drains.

Continue reading at: Bridging the gap for Orang Utan migration

Green Tourism: Marudu’s bay of opportunity

KOTA KINABALU: A Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) study has identified several business opportunities in Marudu Bay such as “green” tourism and oyster breeding,

Science, Technology and Inno­vation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said other opportunities included homestays, aquaculture, sea cucumber and cage fish rearing, mangrove boardwalks and observatories for birds.

He said an integrated eco-resource management study by a team of university researchers on Marudu Bay was almost completed.

The study – involving UPM, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Sabah – spells out sustainable development programmes to preserve the eco-system in Marudu Bay, while using the resources to uplift the livelihood of the people there, he said.

“Some of the findings, such as UPM’s Mangrove Ecosystem Study and Resource Management for Seafood and Sustainable Eco-tourism for Coastal Communities’, have been documented,” he said at the launch of the Marudu Bay Carnival in Kota Marudu, about 120km from here yesterday.

As a result of the study, a workshop on eco-tourism management was conducted for 32 participants from eight villages, which have the potential to be developed for eco-tourism.

It is part of a series of workshops meant to expose participants to the eco-diversity of Marudu Bay and its potentials.

Continue reading at: Green Tourism: Marudu’s bay of opportunity

Sarawak continues to draw tourists from Peninsula Malaysia

KUCHING: Sarawak will continue to be a popular destination for tourists from Peninsular Malaysia.

Tourism Deputy Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos said Sarawak had so far become the number two popular destination among Malaysians.

He said the state enjoyed about 18% or 10.32mil local arrivals in 2009 after Kuala Lumpur. Johor is third with 8.23mil visitors.

Dawos, who is Mambong MP, said the Tourism Ministry has allocated RM46mil to develop the tourism industry in Sarawak under the Tenth Malaysia Plan to ensure state is among the top choices for domestic and foreign tourists.

He said the ‘Cuti Cuti 1Malaysia’ was expected to increase the domestic tourism profile and arrivals in Sarawak as the state continued to grow as a popular eco-tourism, nature and culture destination.

Continue reading at: Sarawak continues to draw tourists from Peninsula Malaysia

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sabah Mega Carnival from June 4 to 11

Kota Kinabalu: A large-scale carnival dubbed as 'Sazarice - Sabah Mega Carnival' will be held at the parking lot of the Likas Sports Complex from June 4 to 11.

The carnival held for the first time is targeted at families.

It is organised by Sazarice and managed by SR Events in collaboration with the National Integration and Unity Department (JPNIN) Sabah branch, RTM, three radio channels, Grand Borneo Hotel and a private company.

SR Events Managing Director, Sharom Abdul Ghaffar, said the carnival will provide a family atmosphere through various activities suitable for children, adults and senior citizens.

"This Sabah Mega Carnival will be held during mid-year school holidays so that Sabahans will not miss all the exciting activities.

"Not only that, the carnival will also become one of tourist attractions in the State Capital as we have received strong support from the Sabah Tourism Board to put this event in the annual tourism calendar," he said.

Sharom said a mini water park would also be set up for the children to play during the event, from 8am to 11.30pm.

Continue reading at: Sabah Mega Carnival from June 4 to 11

Brunei's biodiversity hotspots grab Oxford's attention

By Azlan Othman

There is a high potential for Brunei Darussalam having a higher percentage of biodiversity 'hotspots' (high species diversity, high endemic diversity and high risk of losing species and habitat loss).

This was highlighted by Dr William Hawthorne from University of Oxford who delivered a talk on 'Hotspot measurement and biodiversity management in Brunei, Heart of Borneo (HoB)' yesterday at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.

The chief guest was the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Dato Paduka Dr Awg Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah.

Dr William Hawthorne also highlighted Oxford University activities on biodiversity conservation such as hotspot measurement, mapping and publication; biodiversity database development, field guides, education and training in biodiversity assessment and taxonomy and plant genetics.

He also touched on proposed Oxford/HoB collaborative activities or interventions such as national botanic survey, training of Forestry, herbarium, UBD staff and students in rapid botanic survey (RBS) techniques, database including photos of the Brunei flora and its distribution, rapid field guides by project and others, building Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), mapping hotspots at local and broader scales, producing Brunei biodiversity-related websites and recording local name and usage data along with basic RBS.

The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources said Brunei Darussalam is one of the assemblage sites for rich tropical biodiversity contributing significantly to the Borneo biodiversity. The country should take stock of its present advantage of having rich biological resources and therefore, exploring new technology and more advanced scientific approach on this biological resources is very timely.

The biodiversity survey, in particular on flora, is one of the biodiversity resources strategies to document and develop further the national herbarium database.

In line with the ongoing construction of the nation's first Tropical Biodiversity Centre situated within the Andulau Forest Reserve, Jln Labi to house biodiversity database in complementing the existing facility in the national herbarium, Brunei Forestry Centre, Sg Liang, the project will help to further develop the existing institutional capacity.

There have been many research projects undertaken by the Department of Forestry under the purview of the Brunei HoB initiative collaboration in which the experts from the department have an opportunity to work together with regional and international researchers or scientists.

The research projects currently undertaken are NITE, Japan on forest microbes; Nparks, Singapore on mangrove and biodiversity resource management; SMART, Singapore on Carbon monitoring at peatland and wetland international on peatland management and rehabilitation.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bold and beautiful Sarawak Kek Lapis

By Rosli Abidin Yahya

Layered cakes are usually featured during Hari Raya Aidlfitri and are mostly baked by housewives in Brunei.

I remembered my late mother usually baked the cakes during the festive season but somehow the cakes have evolved from homely cakes into signature tourism product of Sarawak instead.

It is now better known as Sarawak Kek Lapis and a visit to Sarawak is not complete without tasting these mouth-watering delicacies.

Perhaps the best-layered cakes can be found in Kg Gersik in Kuching.

Tourists come in droves to Kg Gersik just because the cakes tasted super tasty there.

I sampled one of the cakes and it is definitely tastier than the others. The cakes are made from butter instead of margarines.

Buyers who bought from Kg Gersik had their cakes packed into a super package.

I did ask my late mother why she did not make any more kek lapis during the festive season.

She said she did not have the patience to make layer cakes anymore and it was much easier to buy from the shops.

I cannot blame her as she was getting older and my sisters did not bother to learn making the cakes from her.

And in just a few years, Sarawak Kek Lapis is a well-known cottage industry product of Sarawak.

During a recent trip to Kuching. I fell in love with Kek Lapis Sarawak as it is bold in colour and design, and more tastier than other cakes imported from neighbouring countries found on the shelves of Brunei supermarkets.

However I refrained from eating a lot just because I believe it is high in calories.

I asked about the manufacturing process of the cakes from the woman who made the cakes at one of the stalls of Kg Gersik.

Yes, it takes a lot of patience to make layered cakes, said Siti.

Of course, a simple layer cake is self-explanatory. Mix two or three colours of batter and bake them layer by layer, pouring each colour in alternation to achieve the desired effect. But come the question of how the image of a flower, or perhaps a complex arrangement of geometric patterns in equally complex colour combinations is achieved and the head scratching begins.

"You have to imagine the forming of a picture in terms of squares and triangles in addition to having the ability to visualise the cake from all dimensions.

"Then you have to take an image apart so that you can put it together again," said Siti who has been making Sarawak layer cakes for eight years.

Then i asked why her cakes were tastier and moist.

"When you choose the best ingredients you get the best cake," said Siti.

A stickler to quality and taste, she revealed that they only used the best ingredients such as Golden Churn butter and Cadbury chocolate, which made her cakes stand out from others.

There is indeed a big demand for cakes but players like herself cannot meet the demand. The more detailed designs would take three days to complete, said Siti.

She said this challenge could be addressed if simple layered cakes could be done with automated machines.

Right now, all her cakes are just enough for local consumption and the tourism industry.

Another challenge is to prolong the cake's shelf life, which is why these cakes are not sold in local supermarkets, she said.

"We do not use preservatives in our cakes, so the shelf life is between two and three weeks in room temperature, and up to six months if refrigerated."

She said preservatives could spoil the taste so ways must be found to overcome this.

She said if the shelf life could be improved, they could penetrate supermarkets and the big hypermarkets in other countries. Her plan is to mass-produce the layered cakes but is still looking for ways to do so.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Kadazandusun and Dayak Chambers to organise Kaamatan-Gawai celebrations

PENAMPANG: The Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sabah (KCCI) and the Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sarawak (DCCI) will jointly organise the fifth Pesta Kaamatan/Gawai Dayak celebrations on June 24 and June 25.

KCCI’s publicity committee chairman, Pius Jaua told press members during a press conference held at the KCCI headquarters near here yesterday that the event will take place in the State capital.

Among the activities which have been lined up for the event will include a golf tournament to be held on June 24 at the Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club and members of both chambers vie for the Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok challenge trophy.

On June 25, there will be a business matching hi-tea where members will be briefed by the officers of th Federal Ministry of Finance on the ‘Teraju’ scheme.

There will be a signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between KCCI and DCCI and also between companies in the oil and gas, construction and tourism industries.

Jaua added that the president of KCCI, Alli Matajam and DCCI president, Tan Sri Leo Moggie will be attending the event.

Also in attendance will be several government and local dignitaries from Sabah and Sarawak.

“The purpose of organising this event is to come together in merry making, cultural exchanges and business networking and also to put into practice the call by the government for greater national unity and integration.

Continue reading at: Kadazandusun and Dayak Chambers to organise Kaamatan-Gawai celebrations

Friday, May 20, 2011

Kuching International Airport now operating round the clock

KUCHING: Kuching International Airport (KIA) will operate round the clock from today.

Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd KIA senior manager Sunif Naiman said a final inspection on the runway was carried out yesterday so that the airport could officially open 24 hours.

“By tomorrow (today) effective from 5.30am, we can accommodate the arrival of airlines after midnight. That means we are open round the clock,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference in conjunction with Firefly’s inaugural Johor Bahru-Kuching flight, Sunif said the inspection was carried out by Malaysia Airports, the consultant as well as main contractor.

Without disclosing details, he revealed that the runway project was behind schedule.

“The completion date was scheduled for last year, but due to certain hiccups, it has been slightly delayed,” he said.

The largest aeroplane that the KIA runway can accommodate is the Boeing 747-400 series.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan said KIA’s 24-hour operations would be an added advantage for STB to further promote tourism.

“If the airport is operational round the clock, it would help to attract many airlines especially from North Asia.

“This is because their aircraft are land idle on ground, so, they can actually use the same aircraft to come here and go without distracting their normal flight schedule. That is an opportunity for us to be more marketing savvy,” he said.

He revealed that STB plans to invite top leaders of airlines to visit Sarawak this October to showcase KIA and the state’s tourist attractions.

“At least if they can’t operate regular schedules, they can operate chartered (flights),” he said.

On Firefly’s inaugural flight from KIA to Johor Bahru, Rashid said the move is in line with the airline’s target to make KIA one of its hubs.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Kuching International Airport now operating round the clock

Less sweet tuak for Gawai Dayak this year

SIBU: Tuak, the traditional Iban rice wine, which is a must serve for Gawai celebration, might taste a little different this year due to the increase in the price of one of its main ingredients – sugar.

A homemaker Nancy Mit Jerangku, who has already started making the tuak about two weeks ago, said her tuak tastes less sweet this year because she had to reduce the amount of sugar.

“It tastes less sweet but it’s ok. In previous years, I will use up to 4 kilogrammes of sugar to fill a 15 litre container but this year, I only use 3kg,” she said when tasting the freshly brew rice wine at her rented house in Huo Ping Road here. The main ingredients for making tuak, she said are glutinous rice, yeast and sugar which she learned from her mother and friends.

The 29-year-old will be bringing the tuak back to her longhouse in Nanga Lasi, Julau as she is planning to return home for the Gawak Dayak this year as her husband who is currently working in South Africa will not be back for the festival.

“My husband will miss the Gawai celebration for the second time this year because he will only be returning home at the end of the year,” she said. Husband Jeffery Malang works as a grader driver at a timber camp in South Africa.

Continue reading at: Less sweet tuak for Gawai Dayak this year

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Foreign airlines can operate charter flights to increase air accessibilty into Sarawak

KUCHING: Foreign airlines can operate charter flights into Sarawak without disrupting their regular scheduled services to increase air accessibility, once the Kuching International Airport (KIA) starts operating from round-the-clock tomorrow, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan said today.

He said there were many airlines, especially in north Asia, whose aircrafts were actually lying idle and which could be used for charter flights to bring in foreign tourists as the KIA’s extended runway can now accommodate wide bodied aircraft, including the Boeing 737 and Airbus A380.

“It is an opportunity for us to be more savvy in marketing the KIA because doing so is also about tourism,” he told reporters here, after welcoming the Firefly inaugural flight for the Johor Bahru-Kuching sector with 118 passengers on board.

Last week, Sarawak Tourism and Heritage Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state’s tourism stakeholders wanted to work closely with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and other airlines on air accessibility to certain selected destinations, following the KIA’s new runway extension, which was completed last year.

Rashid said STB, the ministry’s marketing arm, was looking at holding a promotional event to showcase the KIA and the state’s tourism products with chief executives and chief commercial officers of airlines being invited here sometime in October this year.

He was confident that they would be convinced by what Sarawak has to offer in coming and seeing for themselves the infrastructure available as well as its product experience, especially in nature and adventure.


Santubong will become tourist destination with waterfront project

KUCHING: Areas surrounding Santubong village can expect more development to turn them into tourist attractions once the proposed Santubong waterfront is completed, said Santubong MP Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

As such, to develop the said proposal critical soil protection in the vicinity of the village must upgraded at a huge cost.

He said for a start, the proposal to build the waterfront would include the upgrading of the existing retaining wall to withstand the strong waves.

“The erosion is critical and soil protection in these areas needs to be upgraded. In fact, areas in Santubong, Lundu, Sematan and Buntal have been identified as having critical erosions. We are seeking funds from the federal government to overcome them,” he said.

He said this after inspecting the area to be developed together with officers from Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) Putrajaya at kampung Santubong yesterday.

He said with an estimated cost of RM8 million, the project is expected to commence as soon as the plan is approved by DID.

“It will take about two to three years to complete.

“It doesn’t matter as we have been waiting for quite sometime for the place to be developed and now is the time,” he added.

He said once approved, the project will roll with RM1 million for a start.

“At the moment, we have RM3 million allocation, which is definitely not enough, and we will continue to ask for funds from the federal government.”

Wan Junaidi said he would seek aid from the state Tourism Ministry to spruce the whole area up.

The Santubong waterfront is expected to see a higher retaining wall, a 12 feet walkway on top, lighting at night and stalls for tourists to enjoy the night breeze.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

KDCA Welcomes Suggestion For Kaamatan Festival To Become National Celebration

KOTA KINABALU -- The Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) has welcomed State Assembly Speaker Datuk Seri Salleh Tun Said Keruak's suggestion that the federal government should recognise the state-level Kaamatan Festival, observed annually on May 31, as a national-level celebration.

Deputy President Datuk Dr Clarence Bongkos Malakun said the move would allow the celebration to be organised on a larger scale.

"In the past, we had to rely heavily on sponsorships from corporate companies every year to make this event a success, since the state government could only give us a limited allocation.

"If it is elevated to a national celebration, then we hope we will get a higher allocation," he told reporters after signing a sponsorship agreement with DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd for the Kaamatan Festival, near here, today.

On Sunday, Salleh said that a national-level Kaamatan Festival would be in line with the government's goals under the 1Malaysia concept, which aims for unity within a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural society.

Malakun, who is also the chairman of the Kaamatan Festival Coordinating Committee, said the Tourism Ministry and the Information Communication and Culture Ministry could play large roles in organising the festival given that it was one of Sabah's biggest tourist attractions, and promoted the cultures and traditions of the Kadazandusun and Murut.

Continue reading at: KDCA Welcomes Suggestion For Kaamatan Festival To Become National Celebration

2011 Iban Kumang Gawai Harvest Festival Queen

MIRI: Twenty-one-year-old Velentine Hellyiza Stephen from Ulu Sebauh, Bintulu was adjudged ‘2011 Kumang Gawai’ of Miri City.

Velentine outshone five other contestants in the Iban category of the Kumang Gawai (Dayak Harvest Festival Queen) contest at the ‘2011 Miri Divisional Gawai Dayak Celebration’ at Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club here on Monday night.

The first runner-up was 22-year-old Elizabeth Gia Amui of Kanowit, while Shandra Petrus Juline, 25, from Nanga Geremai, Kanowit was the second runner-up.

In the Bidayuh category, the Gawai Kumang title went to 23-year-old Jennifer Ubung Nawan of Kampung Skiat, Bau.

She beat five others, including 20-year-old Venezia of Kampung Benuk, Padawan and 18-year-old Marie Paye Steve of Kampung Tanjong Poting, Singai who were second and third place winners respectively.

18-year-old Stephanie Singa from Trusan, Lawas was adjudged ‘Gawai Keligit’ in the Orang Ulu category, defeating five others.

Jessica Bulan Stephen, 20, of Long San, Baram took the second place and 19-year-old Karen Disa from Long Selawan, Ulu Baram came up third.

The three ‘Kumangs’ each brought home RM1,000 in cash plus a sash, a trophy, a certificate of participation, a hamper by Maggi and bouquet.

As for the first runners-up in each category, everyone received RM800 and the second runners-up RM600 each, plus a trophy, sash, hamper and bouquet.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 2011 Iban Kumang Gawai Harvest Festival Queen

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Borneo Jazz finale draws 5000 crowd

MIRI: The weather was good when an audience of more than 5,000 gathered for the finale of Borneo Jazz 2011 on Saturday night.

The festival running into its sixth year drew lovers of jazz music from Malaysia, Brunei, the peninsula and overseas.

A random survey conducted by The Borneo Post at the event that night revealed a large number in the audience who want Malaysian jazz queen Sheila Majid to perform in the next edition of Borneo Jazz.

A fan believed Sheila could attract more locals and Bruneians. She would stir interest in and awareness of jazz music among the people.

“I think it would be interesting if we could see Sheila Majid perform in this festival and I’m sure she will attract more people. I have never missed this festival and always wonder if she is among the performers,” she added.

“If they can invite famous jazz performers such as Maria Muldaur and John Hammond from US, why can’t the organiser invite Sheila. I believe most of her fans and jazz music lovers wish to hear her sing in this festival,” she added.

Muldaur and Hammond were the main performers in Borneo Jazz 2011 which concluded Saturday.

The other performers were SIU2 from China, State of Monc (Holland), Les Doigts De L’Homme (France), Yuichiro Tokuda’s Ralyzz Dig (Japan), Cunha E Piper (Brazil/Australia), Victor Yong and The Electric Carnival Band (Malaysia/Canada), Dhruv (India) and CQuence (Miri).

The audience was captivated by Muldaur’s energetic performance and powerful voice.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo Jazz finale draws 5000 crowd

Miri can be jazz haven

MIRI: With its mix of multi-racial and cosmopolitan society, Miri should be able to become a jazz music centre in this region.

Expressing this optimism, Minister of Tourism and Heritage Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said he was inspired by the good response from performers and jazz music lovers at the Borneo Jazz 2011 which concluded on Sunday night.

“We have two international music festivals in the state, namely the Rainforest Music Festival in Kuching and Borneo Jazz here in Miri. Rainforest Music Festival has become the icon of the traditional, ethnic and folk music and songs internationally,” he said.

Abang Johari, accompanied by his wife Datin Jumaani and permanent secretary to the Ministry of Social and Urban Development Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, was among the audience at the festival held at ParkCity Everly Hotel here.

Abang Johari noted that the festival had attracted a growing following every year and more participation from places beyond Asia such as America, Canada and Europe.

“Apart from that, Miri is also located near Brunei which is where we could tap into the international visitors and tourists including the expatriate communities to come as tourists to Miri,” he added.

The presence of Miri born Victor Yong and The Electric Carnival Band also boosted his confidence.

Born in Miri and now living in Canada, Victor marked his musical return to Miri through Borneo Jazz with his Latin inspired Carnival Band.

Though growing up with rock and roll, Victor’s love for jazz eventually moved him into a career as an international guitarist.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Miri can be jazz haven

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sabah Kaamatan suggested To Be A National-Level Celebration

KOTA BELUD -- State assembly speaker Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has suggested that the federal government recognise the state-level Kaamatan Festival, celebrated annually on May 31, as a national-level Kaamatan celebration.

By doing so, he said, there was no longer a need for a separate national-level Kaamatan Festival as had been the case previously.

This was in line with the government's aspirations under the 1Malaysia concept which prioritized unity among the multiracial, multireligious and multicultural society, he said.

"A separate state-level and national-level Kaamatan Festival would give the impression as though there is a disagreement between the state and federal governments.

"This may cause certain quarters to wonder why a celebration should be held separately when in fact it can be held simultaneously. That is why I'm suggesting that the federal government recognise the state Kaamatan Festival as a national-level Kaamatan celebration," he said when opening the district-level Kaamatan Festival, here Saturday.

Among those present were Kota Belud member of parliament Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Kadamaian assemblyman Datuk Herbert Timbon Lagadan.

Salleh, who is United Sabah Bajau Organisation (Usbo) president, said the move would also help save the budget in organising the celebration.

"Turning the state-level Kaamatan Festival into a national-level Kaamatan event will also make it merrier, and showcase the multiracial unity more. This will also help spur the state's tourism sector," he said.


15 strongmen to battle for Sarawak World Harvest Festival title

KUCHING: A total of 15 strongmen of the preliminary round qualifiers will battle for the next round of the Ironman competition held in conjunction with the World Harvest Festival (WHF) 2011 at Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) on May 22-30.

In the next round they will climb mount Santubong.

The 15 are Mohd Firdaus, Wan Azahar, Fazri Sedi, Reinto Jamal, Syed Ahmad, Amir Hanafi, Mohd Ghadafi’ Syahrul Nizam, Mustaza Zaini, Mohd Hazlamie, Rizal Jamali, Jackson Michael, Roslan Ibrahim, Jury Amirul and Khairuddin Amir.

Twenty participants competed in the preliminary round held at Kuching Waterfront yesterday.

During the preliminary round, the might of the contestant were tested by requiring them to throw 15kg gunny sack, carrying 60kg wood block, carrying water gallons and pulling car.

Winner of the Ironman WHF will walk away with RM1,000, first and second runner-up will purse RM700 and RM500 respectively.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 15 strongmen to battle for Sarawak World Harvest Festival title

Firefly Takes Delivery Of Third Boeing 737-800 For Kota Kinabalu Operations

KOTA KINABALU -- Firefly, a community airline subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), took delivery of a third Boeing 737-800 aircraft to be stationed here, officially marking the start of Kota Kinabalu as its eastern hub.

Firefly currently flies daily between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu with its two 737-800s, but with the arrival of the latest aircraft, there will be three aircraft flying six times daily to service the route.

Managing Director Datuk Eddy Leong, in welcoming the new aircraft at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), said the launch of Kota Kinabalu as its eastern hub was part of the company's plan to strengthen its domestic network.

It also plans to soon launch Senai in Johor as its southern hub.

"For the eastern hub, our ultimate aim is to have one flight departing every hour from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur.

"Eventually, we will have three hubs; Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang (KLIA), Senai International Aiport in Johor and the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

"By next week we will take delivery of our second Boeing 737-400, which will be based in Senai, and begin our Johor Bahru-Kuching route by May 19. By June 16, we will start the JB-Kota Kinabalu routes," he told reporters when met at the airport here Saturday.

Launched on April 3, 2007, Firefly initially started operating out of the Penang and Subang hubs before shifting its main operations to KLIA.

It connects various points within Malaysia, Southern Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, aligning itself with the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) agenda.

Todate, its fleet comprises 10 ATR 720-500, one B737-400 and three B737-800.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Borneo Jazz kicks off with a preview

MIRI: The Borneo Jazz 2011 kicked off with a welcoming dinner and preview show held at Marina Bay Restaurant on Thursday night.

The dinner for performers, sponsors and invited guests was graced by Assistant Minister of Tourism Mong Dagang and Assistant Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communication cum Senadin assemblyman Datuk Lee Kim Shin as well as Miri mayor Lawrence Lai.

“This event is very appropriate. It has put Miri and Sarawak on the world map where jazz lovers from all over the world gather to be part of the event,” said Mong in his address.

He revealed similar events in the pipeline apart from Borneo Jazz and Rainforest World Music Festival to make Sarawak known among music lovers of various genre all over the globe.

The event on Thursday was also to give the audience a sneak peek at what will be served at the actual event last night (May 13) and tonight.

Entertaining guests at the preview show or opening concert were Miri’s own ‘CQuence’ and ‘Dhruv’ all the way from India.

There was a cultural performance by the Orang Ulu community to the accompaniment of live sape music by local musicians.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo Jazz kicks off with a preview

Royal Brunei Airlines gives Sarawak tourist destinations a boost

MIRI: Sarawak was given a boost yesterday when Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) brought in Australian travel agents to the state on a familiarisation tour.

“There is certainly a market for jazz and this is definitely a product catering for different segments of the market. After trekking in the tropical rainforest, they can relax and have a good time in the festival,” said RBA sales account manager Carol Baker.

The airlines yesterday played host to 10 Australia agents on a familiarisation trip to both Mulu National Park and Borneo Jazz.

According to Baker, the agents on the trip were mostly Borneo wholesalers and specialists offering special packages to Sabah, Brunei and Sarawak.

“They specialise in adventure and trekking holidays. They have come to experience what Sarawak has to offer to different Australian tourist market,” said Baker adding that Thailand, Fiji and Bali were traditional destinations among Australians.

The airline is looking at Borneo as a new exciting and energetic destination.

It is becoming a trend among Australians to appreciate nature through activities such as jungle trekking, caving, and boating.

The familiarisation trip is also to illustrate to the Australian agents the easy connectivity from Brunei to Miri by road (three-hour drive).

Meanwhile, Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Rashid Khan told The Borneo Post that the initiative was in response to the board’s trip to Australia where they had marketing talks with Royal Brunei Airlines in Brisbane and Tourism Malaysia’s Sydney office.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Royal Brunei Airlines gives Sarawak tourist destinations a boost

Friday, May 13, 2011

Borneo a long-time lure for rare plant collectors

A few weeks ago I was writing about local plantsman Keith Adams. You may not have heard that Keith died last week. We will miss him. He was an extraordinary character who made frequent plant hunting trips to Borneo during his retirement years.

One of the plants Keith collected in Borneo, Rhododendron lowii, took 16 years to flower at Pukeiti. Not exactly speedy, but worth the wait, according to the Pukeiti team. It's a vireya or subtropical rhododendron with bright green glossy leaves and gleaming golden yellow trumpets.

I was fortunate to be given a plant of R. lowii recently by Mark and Abbie Jury and, to my delight, it has flowered twice already. It's a real collector's piece, which is understandable given that it can take 16 years to flower.

The plant is named after Rajah Low, and I thought I would tell you a bit about him. Although he should be famous for his rhododendron, he is actually better known in the orchid world. We should not forget also that he was a very able and popular administrator in Borneo and Malaysia.

As a young man he became interested in plants, not surprising given his father ran a London nursery specialising in orchids. This was the era when orchids were top of the pops and nurseries were sending brave young men all over the world to find exciting new species. When he left school, Hugh Low became one of these intrepid young men, agreeing to go out to the Far East collecting orchids for his father's nursery. Thankfully, his collections were a huge success and there are at least eight orchids named after him.

In those days, orchid nurseries would spend vast sums to obtain new species and plants were stripped from jungles all over the world. Apart from being beautiful, orchids had two things in their favour. They were expensive to maintain in heated greenhouses, plus their scarcity value meant only rich people could afford to acquire a collection. Nurserymen loved this scenario as they could name their price for new introductions. Collectors were sent to all the islands of the Pacific in search of orchids.

There were few white men in Borneo at this time so everyone knew everyone. Hugh Low fell in with Rajah Brooke who, by all accounts, was a rogue. Englishman James Brooke sailed to Borneo in the late 1830s with the intention of trading spices. His timing was perfect as his crew helped the Sultan of Brunei put down an insurrection and Brooke was given the title of Rajah of Sarawak - rajah being chief or king. Nothing like giving yourself airs.

In those days, enterprising Englishmen sailed off and claimed bits of the world and the government in London had to play catchup and paint a bit more of the map in British pink. India was the classic case where a single company controlled the country and similar things happened here in New Zealand.

Hugh Low became Brooke's secretary for the next 20 or so years. In many ways he had the perfect life living on the island of Labuan just to the north of Borneo, giving him easy access to the mainland to go botanising or exploring. Low was the first European to venture far inland and was quite at ease with the headhunting natives. In later life he wrote books about his adventures and the people he met.

Continue reading at: Borneo a long-time lure for rare plant collectors

Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival returns bigger and better

KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival (KKJF) returns bigger and better than ever.

KKJF is an annual fund raising extravaganza organized by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) and the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (SPArKS).

Staged in the picturesque nature resort city of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, the jazz festival brings together a musical melting pot of talents from around the world.

KKJF recorded a crowd of over 2000 people during the two -night performance in 2010. The 5th edition of KK Jazz Festival in 2011 promises to be another ground-breaking experience not to be missed by lovers of all things jazz.

One of the striking differences about KK Jazz Festival is its lineup of artists, which includes international names and talented Sabahan bands and singers. Acknowledging the immense musical gifts of the people from the Land Below the Wind, KKJF also serves as an ideal stage for showcasing local artist.

The KKJF is widely regarded as a signature highlight in Sabah’s annual calendar of events, and is also a key component of the Kota Kinabalu Arts Festival.

The KKJF consists of several other events apart from the main stage performances such as Sabah Jazz talent Search, Fringe shows and Workshops – all perfectly tying in to the lead-up to the KKJF.

On the first night during the festival, the crowd will be entertained by Momain Blues, Elixir Trio (both from Kota Kinabalu), Spice of Tones (Labuan), WVC Trio (Kuala Lumpur) and Lucky (a singer from Indonesia).

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival returns bigger and better

Activities planned in Sabah for cultural village all year

KOTA KINABALU: Year-round cultural activities are being planned for the Kadazandusun and Murut “village hub” at the Hongkod Koisaan (Unity Hall) in Penampang.

Traditional replica homes of various Sabah ethnic communities come to life annually in May as the indigenous communities celebrate Pesta Kaamatan but now the Kadazandusun and Murut Cultural Association (KDCA) plans to keep it alive all-year round.

KDCA president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is the Huguan Siou or paramount leader of the community, said they were identifying suitable cultural-based economic activities to be carried out within the hub throughout the year.

He said it would be in line with the promotion of cultural and economic activities that would be an added lure for the state’s tourism.

“Hongkod Koisaan has the potential that has yet to be unlocked and explored similar to other places of interest in Sabah,” he said when launching new facilities including a hanging bridge at the cultural village on Wednesday.