Saturday, January 31, 2015

Scuba Diving Mabul and Bohey Dulang Island

Me and a group of friends went for a scuba diving trip in Mabul Island plus Bohey Dulang Island. We took an AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau at 7am. We reached Tawau airport at 9:50am. A van was waiting to drive us to Semporna town and it took us about an hour drive.

This is not my first time to visit Mabul Island. It is more like a must to do trip to distress myself whenever I have time off from work. Arung Hayat Home-stay is a comfort zone and my happy place. I have been going back diving with the team for the past 4 years now.

Once we arrived at Semporna, we went to have our lunch at Ocean Live Seafood Restaurant at Semporna town. The restaurant is located beside Sipadan Inn hotel and the waterfront is just outside the premises. I believe this restaurant is truly one restaurant that stands out from the rest.

The seafood is fresh, delicious, restaurant is clean, ambiance is beautiful, very welcoming and the price is cheap ! That's what everyone is looking for right? Kenneth the owner of the restaurant is a very friendly guy, always smiling and he make sure that the food and service is up to the standard.

The only thing is sometimes the restaurant is SO PACK and we need to wait.. but it won't take a very long time though. We are on a holiday right !!.. no rushing and relax..enjoy the life to the fullest...ooook next ..

After lunch we did some grocery shopping and we went straight to the jetty at Pakalalang Village located 20 mins drive from Semporna town. We took a 30 minutes boat ride to the island. Normal practices, usually all guest will be picked up from Semporna Jetty and the boat ride is about 1 hour journey to Mabul Island.

Our home-stay Arung Hayat has a boat pick up from the village, making the journey faster.

We did one dive on our arrival day. The weather was hot but the water temperature was about 27 to 28 degrees which is colder than normal 30 to 33 degrees. Everyday is scuba diving activity and during the night , we have BBQ dinner, fresh grilled fish.

After dinner the dive crew entertained the guest by playing the guitar and sing for us while we lay down on the wooden bridge watching hundreds of stars in the sky. The next day, some of us woke up as early as 4am to see the sunrise. The sunrise and sunset view is breathtaking.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Scuba Diving Mabul and Bohey Dulang Island

Friday, January 30, 2015

MASwings offers promotions to selected destinations

KUCHINGMASwings is offering X-Fares promotions from as low as RM21 to selected ATR domestic destinations to mark the launch of its ‘The New Beginning’ celebration starting today.

During this promotion, passengers travelling from Kuching get to enjoy all in one-way fares to Bintulu, Sibu, Miri, Mulu and Kota Kinabalu from as low as RM80; with the same promotion for passengers travelling from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan, Tawau, Lahad Datu and Labuan including travellers from Miri to Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Mulu and Labuan.

MASwings’ second edition of X-Fares promotions are up for grabs from now until June 23, with the travel period from Feb 6 to June 30 this year. The RM21 base-fares are not inclusive of airport taxes, fuel and insurance charges, which start from RM59 one-way, subject to MASwings terms and conditions.

The public could visit MASwings exhibition booth at Kuching Waterfront today and tomorrow to check out its promotions. The above offers are also available through MASwings/Malaysia Airlines ticketing offices, 24-hour Call Centre at toll-free 1300 88 3000 and website

“The New Beginning event is held to thank the people of Sarawak and Sabah for supporting the airline since its conception in 2007.

“We attracted about 10 million passengers over the past eight years and want to ensure MASwings become an icon for the people here as it belongs to Sabah and Sarawak.

“We continue to emphasis safety and improve our service to customers,” MASwings chief executive officer Capt Ritzerwan Rashid told a press conference at Hilton Hotel here yesterday.


Shifting dependency on China tourist saved Sabah arrivals

KOTA KINABALU: The quick switch of focus in tourism saved the overall total arrivals from further declining after Sabah faced a steep drop in Chinese arrivals in 2014.

The 2014 Sabah tourism report card today revealed that efforts in strengthening other market source were fruitful in arresting the overall tourism decline.

The trend of weakening Chinese arrivals was also seen nation-wide and Sarawak as well as in neighbouring country, Singapore.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said there was a -3.7% drop in the overall 2014 tourist arrivals bringing a nett total of 3.065 mil visitors compared to 3.181 mil in 2013, mainly caused by the decrease of Chinese tourists into Sabah.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Places to see orangutans in Borneo

In case you are wondering where Borneo is and what it is, it’s an island located in South East Asia, south of Malaysia and North of Australia.

Borneo is renown for its stunning rainforests, which are home to a large number of animal and plant species.

The island is divided among three countries: Malaysia and Brunei in the north, and Indonesia to the south.

Today, however, we are only “visiting” the Malaysian part, as it features numerous places where to see wild orangutans!

If you are an animal lover, this kind of vacation is perfect for you.

Trekking in the jungle, discovering local villages and having a one-on-one meeting with a red, fluffy orangutan.

Sounds like a dream vacation to me, to be honest!

Anyway, to go back to the animals, The Golden Scope selected five places that are considered to be the best to view orangutans.

Next thing you should do now is picking the one you like the most and head down there to have a one-of-a-kind experience.

Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

The Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is 12 miles from Kuching, the capital city of the state of Sarawak.

The main purpose of this center is to reintroduce orangutans back into the wild.

Kubah National Park

The Kubah National Park is also located not too far from Kuching.

The park presents a center, called the Matang Wildlife Centre, which is nestled away in the forest, and is home numerous orangutans.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Places to see orangutans in Borneo

Miri Country Music Fest on Feb 7

MIRI: Tickets are still available for the Miri Country Music Fest (MCMF) 2015 to be held on Saturday, Feb 7.

Event organiser, Planet Conventions and Events Sdn Bhd director Gracie Geikie said yesterday: “Tickets are being sold at RM80 per adult and RM40 per child.”

This year, more tickets were reserved by Bruneians.

“The ticket price for adults is inclusive of one beverage while for children is inclusive of a soft drink or ice-cream,” she added.

Country music fans who wish to attend the only country music festival in South East Asia should get their tickets early before they are sold out. The bands promised to wow the audience with their lively and energetic performances.

The second edition of MCMF 2015 this year will feature a total of seven bands of international artistes. Miri’s Scarlet band will represent the resort city as host in the international event with Hi Breed band from Kuching.

The international band line up are Kareem Salama (USA), Country Sisters (Czech Republic), Mel and Joe (Singapore), OS Pombos Band (Kuala Lumpur) and Rani and Westom Country Band (Indonesia).

Continue reading at: Miri Country Music Fest on Feb 7

Kota Kinabalu to celebrate City Day with several events

Kota Kinabalu: Several exciting events will be held in conjunction with the city's 15th anniversary this Feb 2.

The events will kick off with thanksgiving prayers on Jan 29 at the City Hall headquarters here followed by the city flag-raising ceremony on Feb 2 at Padang Merdeka, a statement from City Hall said on Wednesday.

The highlights are KK City Day Karate Championship on March 14 to 15 at the City Community Hall, the "Jom Berbasikal" event on March 15 at the Merdeka field, the 10th International Sabah Open Dart Tournament on March 27 to 29 at the Community Hall, KK City Run on Oct 11 at Padang Merdeka, KK Inter-cities Chess Championship 2015 and the KK Tourism Treasure Hunt.

The flag raising ceremony, which will be held from 8am on Feb 2 at Padang Merdeka, will include a march past by several contingents.

Eighteen contingents from various bodies are expected to be present at the ceremony.

They include all the City Hall's departments and invitees like Universiti Institut Teknologi Mara, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Sabah Cultural Board, Kg Cenderamata II Likas and the City Hall cycling team.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival is back

KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival (KKIFF) is back for the seventh year and will be held from May 31 to June 11.

It continues to be co-organised by SEDIA and SPArKS (Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah), in collaboration with Elysee Fund (through the Goethe-Institute Malaysia and Alliance Francaise) and the Embassy of the USA.

“The criteria (of materials to be submitted for competition in KKIFF2015) are simple; as long as they portray the originality and creativity of story-telling,” said KKIFF 2015 director Jude Day.

“KKIFF 2015 promises to be the best film festival yet. We have positioned ourselves as a significant film festival in the ASEAN region to build up, nurture and present young talented film directors.”

KKIFF is currently calling for applications for the Sabah Film Academy which will take place from May 31 to June 7.

The 10 selected participants from Malaysia will work in two teams with four mentors from Germany, France, the USA and the ASEAN region. In the month before they come to Kota Kinabalu, the two teams will work on pre-production of their 10-minute documentaries with their mentors and each other.

Once in KK, everyone will finalise pre-production arrangements and attend workshops with the mentors. Then they will go out and shoot their documentaries, edit them and screen them at Awards Night on Sunday, June 7. Applications close on April 30.

The film festival is also calling for applications for the Sabah Pitching Training & Awards programme on June 5 and 6. Anyone within the ASEAN region can apply with a new documentary film project. These can be feature-length (60 minutes plus) or shorts (up to 15 minutes).

The 10 selected projects can be represented at KKIFF by two people each who will receive training in making pitches before pitching to a panel who will award a total of RM20,000 in grants to help get three of the projects started.


Shorter Sabah International Folklore Festival to reduce costs

KOTA KINABALU: The 10th Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF) 2015 will be held for five days this year, instead of the nine days as in the previous years in support of the state government’s call for more prudent spending.

Efforts to reduce expenses also included seeking partnerships and sponsorships from corporate and government agencies, cancelling the premier show and limiting the number of participating countries.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun said the organizing committee would find ways to save on expenses without compromising the quality of the performances.

For the first time ever, SIFF 2015 will be held at Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang which has recently been renovated in order to cater for prestigious performances such as orchestra or theatre. The event will run from August 11 to 15.

Masidi, who is also the organizing chairman, said the government had spent RM5.9 million to upgrade the audio system, lighting and seating of Sabah Cultural Centre.

Prior to SIFF 2015, Masidi said the Sabah Cultural Centre would be the venue for Era Sayang Sabah concert and performances by the Jesselton Philharmonic Orchestra and Korea Philharmonic Orchestra.

Speaking to the media after chairing the SIFF 2015 meeting yesterday, Masidi said the committee had identified 189 groups from various countries to invite to the festival.

To date, 27 countries have shown their interest to participate in SIFF 2015, including Slovakia, Australia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, China, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, New Zealand, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Johor, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Venezuela and others.

“There is no shortage of participants; the real issue is how we can afford to accommodate everyone.”

While the participants are required to purchase their own flight tickets, Masidi said the organizing committee was responsible for providing accommodation and food to the participants during their stay here.

“In support of the government’s call to reduce expenditure this year, we are only accepting 15 countries at the international level.”

The theme of SIFF 2015 is ‘Marriage’, a concept to couple marriage ceremony in cultural dances.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sabah more marketable with court for tourists

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun fully supports the proposal made by Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak, Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum to set up a special court for tourists in Sabah.

Masidi, when asked to comment on the matter, said setting up a tourist court will enhance Sabah’s marketability as a tourist-friendly destination.

“Good tourism products are not the only selling points of a country. It also includes safety and very reliable and efficient legal system, readily and speedily available to foreigners at very reasonable cost.

“Having said that however, I hope the same quick legal recourse will also be available to local tourist handlers if they too feel that they have been taken for a ride by any tourist,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vice President Inbound of Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Datuk KL Tan said the setting up of a tourist court would be good for tourists who have been cheated by unlicensed or illegal travel agents.

He said this is the norm with these agents having given substandard services and cases where accidents happen.

“For licensed tour operators, the special court may not go well where there are cases of bogus claims by tourists. In fact there are also guides like 101 ways to complain and get a free trip.

“This will put licensed tour operators at a disadvantage. Licensed operators have professional indemnity insurance and would prefer the normal due process.

“Having said that, a special tourist court may enhance Sabah as a tourist destination with a clean and transparent image and protect tourist well being. A special tourist court will be good to handle cases whereby tourists are cheated, mishandled, short changed whereby there is no avenue for them for quick recourse,” he added.


‘Czech out’ these funky Country Sisters at the Miri Country Music Fest

KUCHING: The Country Sisters from Czech Republic will be bringing country music from the heart of Europe to this year’s Miri Country Music Fest (MCMF) on Feb 7 at ParkCity Everly Hotel in Miri.

Known for their energetic performance, the six-member band is expected to get the crowd dancing to their funky country tunes comprising traditional western country, rock and roll and their own original compositions.

According to a press statement, each of the band members masters at least two musical instruments and the band has released 14 CDs and three DVDs thus far. The band has also played in more than 2,000 concerts worldwide and receiving numerous awards.

Believed to be the only country music festival in the region, the upcoming MCMF will also feature other well-known country music bands such as Hi Breed from Kuching, Starlet Band (Miri), Mel and Joe (Singapore), Os Pombos (Kuala Lumpur), Rani and the Westom Country Band (Indonesia) and Kareem Salama (USA).

Organised by Planet Conventions and Events Sdn Bhd, the one-day festival is also endorsed by Miri City Council and Malaysia Conventions and Exhibition Bureau and supported by ParkCity Everly Hotel Miri, Sarawak Tourism Board, US Embassy, MASWings Sdn Bhd, BNB Tech Sdn Bhd and Planet Borneo Travel and Tour Services Sdn Bhd.

The day’s programme include the festival bazaar offering wide varieties of food stuff, games and souvenirs, music workshop, line dance workshop and country music concert. The bazaar will begin from noon while the workshop is from 2pm to 5pm.


Monday, January 26, 2015

10 reasons to explore Borneo, Malaysia - Part 1

Borneo is one heck of an incredible and mysterious country, where things go bump in the night and it’s usually a creature that is both exotic and rare. Craggy mountains, rainforests drenched in mist, winding wide rivers and relaxing times await for you there. Malaysia’s Borneo is a destination on many people’s bucket list for a reason, as it’s natural beauty will blow your bloomin’ mind and you’ll find yourself falling hard for those cute orange monkeys called Orangutans.

I began this post as a ‘10 Reasons to…’ but it quickly became apparent that if you had to read through my full list in one go, you would probably age about 2 years. I’ve broken it down into two posts, and this is the first half of my 10 Reasons to explore Borneo, which focuses on wildlife and the jungle.

Fly from Kuala Lumpur on the western peninsular of Malaysia over to Kota Kinabalu, which is the capital of the state of Sabah which is nestled in the northern tip. It’s the gateway to Borneo and makes a great starting point in your exploration of Borneo a.k.a. Malaysia’s eastern peninsular. You can go overland or by a super quick flight over to the east side, which has Sandakan and Sepilok’s world famous Orangutan centre.

It was the closest I’ve got to experiencing life a la Mowgli from The Jungle Book, despite not encountering a tiger (thank Jesus). Have a sneaky peruse at what I found to be it’s most glorious features and it will hopefully have you book a ticket over there quickly in case it’s beauty fades away from human destruction.

1. Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

OK, I’ll start with an important feature of Borneo which many associate with the country. And that of course, is the Orangutans. Those cute, fuzzy, orange darlings are what everyone wants to hold and cuddle when they head this way (I would’ve loved to be able to do that), but the most honourable way to see them is when they’re semi-rehabilitated and nearly integrated back into the wild.

The Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre lies in Sepilok, a mere half hour taxi ride from Sandakan’s airport.The centre was set up in the 1960’s to help orphaned orangutans get back to the wild and is set on the edge of the protected Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve. Along with other animals, such as sun bears and the occasional elephant, they are nursed to full strength and then released into the reserve. The Malaysian government has clamped down on illegal trading and poaching of Orangutans and have taken these measures to try and resurrect the sparse population.

Feeding times are like clockwork: a 10am feed and a 3pm feed. As the monkeys are pretty darn clever, they’ll make their way over to the feeding platform that is visible from a walkway to lazily take bananas from the workers. It’s lovely to see them emerge from the trees one after another to get their feed, but the less Orangutans you see the better. If they don’t return to the platform, it means they have the confidence and the skill to make it on their own out in the jungle. To try and encourage their independent foraging, they make the food as monotonous, yet nutritious, as possible.

The crowds are quite large to see these special creatures so get down there early! On our second visit, we were running a bit late and ran into a giant Orangutan who was equally as late to the feeding. He dropped straight out of the trees into our path and a few of us followed him with fingers pointing and mouths gaping, astounded that we were so close. I doubt he was very impressed.

2. Boat ride on the River Kinabatangan

In Sandakan, the River Kinabatangan snakes from the southwest mountains to the Sulu Sea. It’s the second longest river in Malaysia and is well-known for it’s bustling wildlife. Whilst the boat ride will see you picking out gibbons, rare birds, proboscis monkeys, rhino and other creatures, the reason as to why they are all so visible is quite sad.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: 10 reasons to explore Borneo, Malaysia - Part 1

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Malaysian Borneo: A Haven for Nature Lovers - Sarawak

When I was 14 years old, I leafed through an Orangutan Foundation International’s pamphlet, marveling at the wondrous red ape that lived in a far-off place called Borneo. I turned to my beige globe, spinning it around until I finally spotted the tiny island southwest of China that was composed of Malaysian and Indonesian territories. Previous to this day, I had no idea that these countries even existed. They were so far from my native United States, it seemed impossible that I could ever reach that part of the world.

That day, I signed up to sponsor an ape for a year through OFI’s Foster Parent Program and made a promise to myself. Someway, somehow, I would one day visit Borneo and see these magnificent creatures on their own turf.

17 years later, serendipitously, I found myself on a flight from Taipei, Taiwan, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I had just finished teaching an English summer program in Taiwan, and was on my way to fulfill my dream. I would be meeting up with The Travel Geek Cyle O’Donnell, photographer and filmmaker, where I would produce and write script for a documentary based in Malaysian Borneo. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life.

When I first arrived in Kuching, Sarawak, I immediately fell in love. It was, after all, the city of cats. The weather was hot, the people were friendly, and there was plenty of exploration to be done.

See, I initially wanted to see Borneo because of the orangutan, which means “man of the jungle” in Malay. However, there was so much more that this oasis offered that I had yet to discover. For those unfamiliar with this semi-autonomous region, it possesses some of the most exceptional biodiversity on earth.

Its mind-blowing landscapes include jutting caves, looming mountains, dense forests, rushing rivers, pristine beaches, and dazzling waterfalls. The array of flora and fauna is just too plentiful to even begin to list. If you love nature, you will find your paradise in Borneo.

Semenggoh Nature Reserve

I arrived at the Semenggoh Nature Reserve around 8:30 a.m. to watch the orangutans feed at 9 a.m. The guide warned us that spotting the long, ginger-haired primates was not guaranteed. Anxiously, I walked down a short pathway to an opening in the forest where, sure enough, there was an orangutan feeding on a banana.

I stood on the wooden platform, filming these amazingly graceful, yet powerful creatures. They swung from tree to tree, munching on bananas, playing, and living without a cage in sight. I put the camera down, taking in the scenery with my own eyes. I focused intently on two adult females interacting with a baby; it was a fragile vignette of an endangered species in its own habitat. The juxtaposition of these animals with the lush, green backdrop was a gorgeous vision forever etched in my mind.

Bako National Park

From the boat station near Kuching, the ride to Bako was forty minutes of bliss. With the wind in my face, my hand splashing in the water, I watched the phantasmagoric cloud formations in the powder blue sky. The massive, verdure mountains whirled by, seeming to have been individually sculpted by Salvador Dali.


Borneo Jazz Festival 2015

Borneo Jazz Festival 2015 will be held from 8-9 May at the ParkCity Everly Hotel in Miri, Sarawak and this is also the 10th year the festival is being held here and is one of the pioneer Jazz Festivals in Southeast Asia.

Having brought in numerous world renown jazz artist and performers, the Borneo International Jazz Festival is always out to surprise audiences with local and international artist. Jazz lovers should not miss this opportunity as for the 10th anniversary of the BIJF, there should be something special lined up for visitors.

The Borneo International Jazz Festival 2015 in Sarawak also promises visitors two days of exciting jazz played by various performers where four acts are done on each night. After party jam sessions are also performed at the hotel's lounge bar where performers get together and just play it out.

For the younger generation, the organizers have included a DJ session after each night of the festival where locals and foreigners can party away till the wee hours of the morning.

Other things to look out for during the BIJF 2015 is the unique Sarawakian craft bazaar which always impresses the visitors with the beautiful collections of traditional art and craft. A food and drinks bazaar is also set up at the venue for the hungry visitors where selections range from local to international cuisines. Beer and soft drinks are sold at reasonable prices too.

The Borneo International Jazz Festival 2015 attracts mostly jazz lovers from around the region and a number of expatriates from across the border, namely from Brunei, Sabah, Singapore and Indonesia.

Opening of the Borneo Jazz Music Festival

The festival always opens with a local school marching brass band which plays some jazz numbers at about 6.00pm before the main acts take stage. This also takes place in the evening before the sun sets by the sea in the back. Last years Borneo Jazz 2014 saw the Chung Hua Marching Brass Band open the festival followed by local Malaysian artist Diana Liu and her band which was well received.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Borneo Jazz Festival 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Honeymoon In Borneo: Lush Rainforests, Stunning Sunsets and Orangutans!

Last November, I (Elizabeth) took a trip to Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo.

Well, having spent seven glorious days exploring Sabah’s white sand beaches, turquoise waters, luxurious beachfront resorts and lush rainforests, I can confirm that it would make an awesome honeymoon destination!

Today I’m sharing a few of my personal highlights and photos from my time in Sabah in the hopes that they’ll inspire you to consider a honeymoon in Sabah, Borneo too.


Truth be told, before I boarded Royal Brunei’s aptly named Dreamliner flight en route to Sabah, I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect – other than orangutans. I mean, when you think of Borneo you can’t help but think of those playful, bright orange, fluffy and flexible apes, right?

And, as it turned out, high up on my trip highlights was seeing these cheeky little fellas hanging out (quite literally) in their natural habitat.

I saw them at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, in Sandakan, where the staff there are doing all they can to protect and nurture this endangered species (there are only approximately 50,000 left in Borneo). I got another glimpse of these fascinating creatures at the nature reserve at The Shangri-la's Rasa Ria Resort, who care for a small number of orangutans as part of their conservation efforts in collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department.

An Abundance Of Exotic Wildlife

Sabah is a nature lover’s dream.

The tropical rainforests, seas and freshwater ecosystems of Malaysia support a rich and diverse array of flora and fauna. There are species in Borneo that you might not even know existed (I certainly didn’t) from the critically endangered Pygmy Elephants (which were upstream when we there!) to the Proboscis monkeys with their abnormally large noses. And from the smallest bears in the world, Sun Bears, to the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia (which wouldn’t look out of place in the Little Shop Of Horrors!)


Friday, January 23, 2015

Seed fund pledged for Sarawak Museum to produce a zooarchaeologist

KUCHING: The Fifth Earl of Cranbrook Dato Sri Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy has pledged a seed fund of RM100,000 to the Sarawak Museum for a suitable candidate to obtain the qualification needed to be employable as a zooarchaeologist.

Lord Cranbrook was named a recipient of the prestigious 2014 Merdeka Award for his outstanding contribution in pioneering research and conservation of Malaysia’s forest biodiversity and the ecology and biology of Malaysian mammals and birds, and for advocating environmental conservation.

The seed fund is part of his Award winnings.

Cranbrook identified a need for qualified curatorial staff and facilities to match the new developments at the Sarawak Museum.

Major renovation works have been scheduled at the Museum including refurbishment plans for a new building on site, coupled with a new storage and curation wing following the demolishment of the Dewan Tun Razak.

“It is essential to combine efforts to ensure that zooarchaeological skills are perpetuated at the Sarawak Museum,” said Cranbrook.

“If the museum is to retain its status as the repository of highly significant collection of animal remains from archaeological sites, it is imperative to find trained zooarchaeologists or graduate biologists with aspirations in the field of Zooarchaeology.

He hoped that his pledge will be met by counterpart offers from public sector science grants and additional donations by private benefactors, including businesses and generous individuals.

In regards to training, Cranbrook proposed for the candidate to be attached to a local university such as UNIMAS, but carry out the research at an appropriate institution in Europe.

The student could also possibly be temporarily attached to the MacDonald Institute, Cambridge. Training at graduate student level is of high value for work within the field of Zooarchaeology, particularly for the separation of species from skeleton remains and any involvement in excavation campaigns.

Referring a long connection with Malaysia and her people especially Sarawak and the Sarawak Museum, Cranbrook said he was first engaged as Technical Assistant to the Curator in 1956.

Now, 58 years later, he is still Honourary Curator of mammals and a frequent contributor to the Sarawak Museum Journal.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Poor outlook for Borneo's mammals

Half of Borneo's mammals will see their habitats shrink by at least a third by 2080, according to a study.

By then, twice as many mammals as now will be at risk of extinction, say conservationists.

Climate change, loss of rainforest and hunting is a threat to many rare mammals on the island.

But there is hope for species like the orang-utan if action is taken to focus conservation efforts on upland areas, scientists report in Current Biology.

Borneo is the world's third largest island, accounting for 1% of the world's land yet about 6% of global biodiversity.

The island has already lost over half its forests, a third disappearing in the last three decades.

A team led by researchers at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, UK, used modelling and satellite images to predict where rainforest will be lost over the next 65 years, based on predictions of climate change and changes in land use.

Working with institutes in Germany, Australia and Indonesia, they mapped the likely suitable habitat for each of 81 Bornean mammals.

They found that deforestation and climate change would lead to 30-49% of mammals losing at least a third of their habitat by 2080.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Poor outlook for Borneo's mammals

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Don’t rely on government to promote tourism, Sarawak tourism players told

MIRI: The private sector, especially tourism industry players, were yesterday told not to rely on the government when promoting local tourism; instead they should be creative and be more innovative when it comes to introducing Malaysia to the curious world.

“Malaysia is celebrating its Year of Festival this year, a continuation of the Visit Malaysia Year 2014. Therefore, instead of waiting for the government’s effort, the private sector must come in with their own initiative,” said Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg at the launch of Miri City’s 10th anniversary logo and programme booklet.

“Miri is a fine example, as it is an entrance to Northern Sarawak and the gateway to many natural heritage, its colourful culture and people; these are the products that are readily available.

“The point is, how to brand, package and promote it to the curiosity of the world,” he added.

Sharing his travel experiences, Abang Johari compared the local promotion method to that of the foreigners, which he said ought to be adopted.

“It is time for travel agencies to change the way they market tourism service to suit the market in any way it needs, identify tourist needs and re-brand to fit into this particular market,” he said.

On this note, he also called for a strategic plan to promote Miri.

“All the products (natural heritage) are available. What they (industry players) need to do is to capitalise on infrastructure, improve and upgrade the facility to fit the tourists and be creative when presenting the product,” he added.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The big move to Borneo

Today was the big day! After waking up early and finishing up my stress-packing (long story short, my luggage was overweight, especially after they gave us so many teaching books/resources, so I had to do a lot of rearranging and donate a large luggage, large jar of peanut butter, and some Clif bars to lessen the load), our state group took off for the airport around 9AM. 

Though I was definitely ready to leave KL, it was a little sad to say goodbye to all the other ETAs. It won’t be until midyear that we’re all together again.

We arrived in Sabah, Borneo—our home for the next 9 months—after a 3-hour plane-ride.

As we emerged from the baggage claim, we were greeted by the cutest welcome party ever, composed of the state education administrators—who held a large banner and gifted us with colorful beaded necklaces—as well as a photographer and videographer.

It kind of felt like we were mini-celebrities. :p

My roommate and I were even told that there had already been an article about us in our district newspaper. (I wonder what picture of us they dug up…)

We were then bussed to our hotel just outside Kita Kinabulu.

We checked in and settled in for dinner at the hotel buffet (at which I appeared sweaty and red-raced, because I had went for a quick run and overestimated the time I had.

So I ended up not having time to shower. And if you’ve ever seen me post work-out, I look awful.

How people manage to look cute after running is beyond me…).

I sat with the administrators and learned some awesome things about my district, Beaufort—like how they have amazing seafood, and there are about 30 bajus waiting for my roommate and I, leftover from last year’s ETAs (sweet deal, since I only have 1 complete baju at the moment), and our house is going to be a 3-bedroom affair.

After dinner, we had a quick briefing, then blissfully settled into our rooms to rest.

Words really can’t describe how excited I am to be here. Sitting on the bus from the airport to the hotel, I couldn’t help but discern the relaxed island vibe immediately, and was reminded of Central America (especially Panama, with the isolated islands and houses built over water), New Zealand, and Asia all at once—three of my favorite places in the world.

So if my instincts are right, I think I’m going to fall in love with this place.

Continue reading at: The big move to Borneo

Monday, January 19, 2015

Exploring Borneo: The Headhunters and the Orang Utans

It’s funny how little I knew of this place I called home.

And as much as I pride myself of being a Borneo girl, with the blood of the headhunters flowing through my veins, I’ll have to admit that there’s still much left to see. Because let’s face it, we all tend to take things for granted especially when it involves things so close to home.

Up till now I’ve yet to climb the Mount Kinabalu. Nor dive in Sipadan, nor trek the great outdoors of Mulu. I’ve not even make it to Bario!

Yet during my recent trip to Padawan, Kuching – courtesy of the Sarawak Tourism Board and the Sarawak Bloggers, I’ve finally managed to strike one-off the bucketlist and that is to encounter the Orang Utans in the wild. Yep. 22 years old, grew up in Borneo and I’ve yet to see the Orang Utans, at least till now.

The trip was part of the Padawan White Water Rafting event (you can check out how they did it with just bamboo rafts and four man squad here!) where they literally brought us around, and that was pretty embarrassing considering that I’ve been to Kuching many times, even deeming it as close as my second home.

The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Sarawak

I was more than excited when I found out that we’re seeing the Orang Utans, having to fill the long drive with jittery vibes and chicken dance (like, yeay we’re seeing the Orang Utans!). The drive from Kuching City took roughly 30 – 40 minutes, depending on the traffic itself. Likewise you can always opt for Bus No.6 from Kuching City, as taxis would be really expensive. Last bus from Semenggoh Wildlife Centre would be around 5p.m, and I’ve been told that they’ll wait for the very last visitor. Entrance fee was really cheap, RM3 if I’m not mistaken.

As part of the Nature Reserve, The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre started out as a rehabilitation centre for almost 1,000 endangered animals, but it was widely known for its Orang Utan rehabilitation programme. To date the Wildlife Centre has successfully re-introduced countless Orang Utans back into the wild, nowadays playing a crucial role for the study of Orang Utan’s biological behavior.

Despite August being a fruitful season we were extremely lucky to be able to observe them, for that very same week there has been lack of appearances throughout feeding time due to the abundant fruits in the wild (which, is the foolproof that the rehabilitation is going well and they’re doing just fine on their own)

Imagine our luck when the Park Rangers spotted this nifty one on one of the trails, and off we went leaving behind the empty feeding station, scurrying across the Brooke’s Trail just to say hello to this chap over here.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Over 4.6 million Sarawak's tourist arrivals expected this year

KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg is positive that Sarawak’s tourist arrivals will exceed 4.6 million this year, given the increasing number of flights.

He said SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, had reviewed its frequency from three times a week to daily.

Without going into details, he added that there was a possibility of other airlines increasing the frequency and introducing chartered flights following positive comments from foreign travellers.

Last year alone, the state received 4.6 million tourists, up 300,000 from the figure of 2013.

“Our tourist arrivals last year saw an additional 300,000 compared to 4.3 million recorded in 2013,” he said when launching the gallery and resource centre of Sarawak Sikh Temple Association yesterday.

Abang Johari, who is also Minister of Housing, said several foreign individuals had hailed the state as a “real cosmopolitan neighbourhood”.

He said a great many of them were impressed by the harmony of Sarawak despite its diverse ethnics and religions.

Taking pride in this, he believed Sarawak is an exemplary example for not just Peninsular Malaysia but the world to emulate when it comes to tolerance and understanding among its populace.

“It is important for us to protect this (harmony) because the future lies in how people unite among themselves.”


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Visa exemption for China tourists will help Sabah tourism recover

KOTA KINABALU: The proposed visa exemption for China tourists, if approved, will obviously enhance and facilitate travel between China and Sabah, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

Commenting on Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz’s statement recently that the government would look into the matter, Masidi said Indonesia and Thailand had already implemented it for Chinese tourists.

“Malaysia needs to be a bit proactive and not just reactive so that we remain on par or even one step ahead of our competitors.

“Tourism is a very competitive industry and we need to be constantly evaluating our options to prepare for sudden changes in the rules of the game,” Masidi said.

“This year is Festivals Year@Myfest. The federal government should consider declaring 2015 as visa-free for Chinese travellers to encourage them to choose our country as their preferred holiday destination,” he said.

Masidi also said 2014 was an ‘annus horribilis’ for the Sabah tourism industry.

“Chinese tourist arrivals plunged by 50 per cent due to some incidents beyond our control.

“We should make up for what Sabah has lost last year. Making it easier for the Chinese to travel to Sabah will definitely be a big step forward to enable the Sabah tourism industry to recover in 2015,” he added. 

Chairman of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Sabah, Datuk KL Tan, said the proposed visa fee exemption for tourists from China will definitely boost the tourism industry.

“The visa exemption proposal was initiated by Datuk Seri Nazri some two months ago and supported by the various stakeholders. It is frustrating this issue is still being deliberated till today.

“Visa exemption or visa removal will definitely boost the tourism industry. Other countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia have adopted this visa exemption and have experienced positive tourist arrivals.

“Business model and consumer trend have changed and last minute bookings is now common. Having visa removal will lure back Chinese tourists,” Tan told The Borneo Post yesterday.

“Malaysia is now experiencing a drop of some 40 per cent of Chinese arrivals. Other sectors that will benefit in visa removal will be the retailing, entertainment, hotel, food and beverages and trade investments.


Korean tourist arrivals in Sabah increasing

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has been receiving an increasing number of Korean tourists every year.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said in 2013, Korean arrivals in Sabah increased by 32.1 per cent to 106,213. During the first 10 months of 2014, Korean tourist arrivals in the state increased by 16.8 per cent from 84,333 to 98,483.

Masidi said there were three airlines operating direct from Incheon (South Korea) to Kota Kinabalu presently. They are Asiana Airlines, Jin Air and Easterjet.

“We receive 18 flights with 3,158 seats weekly. As of now, Sabah Tourism Board is currently in serious discussion with Asiana Airlines to get direct flights from Busan to Kota Kinabalu. Should this plan materialises, we expect to further increase the Korean arrivals to Sabah,” he said during the grand opening of the Hana Tour Service (M) Sdn Bhd’s first office near here yesterday.

He said the numbers indicated good performance.

“However, we are cautious and will double our efforts to reach more tourists from Korea in the future,” he added.

Masidi also said his ministry, through Sabah Tourism, would encourage more airlines and chartered flights, especially from Korea to Sabah.

“The state government will continue to develop and improve new tourism products and facilities to ensure sustainable tourism and maintaining Sabah’s position as a key tourist destination,” he said, adding that this year, Sabah Tourism would work closely with Hanatour and ibis Styles Waterfront Sandakan to promote Sandakan to the Korean market.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Paradise in Kalimantan, Borneo

Our beloved island Kalimantan in Borneo – Indonesia, recently is one of the most favourite destination visited by tourists.

The big island consists of several small islands around it, where we step our bare feet on their white sands.

Maratua, Derawan, Sangalaki, and Kakaban island, a group of islands that have incredibly rich underwater nature, are located in Eastern Kalimantan, 2-3 hours by boat from the port of Berau.

We choose to stay 3 nights in Nunukan Resort, located in the finest island, Maratua.

I call it as diver’s paradise, it has so many beautiful dive spots and also the resort provides a complete diver’s equipments (suites, fins, snorkle, etc). 

From here, we can hire a boat for one full day to go around to other islands, or to dive in different kind of spots, with or without the local dive master.

We also got our breakfast, lunch and dinner in the resort, with some local taste.

Every different spot has different underwater creatures.

We pick a low season to travel, so there are not so many other tourists around.

The water was crystal clear with a turquoise colours gradation, and we can see the colourful corals clearly from the boat.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Paradise in Kalimantan, Borneo

State Kaamatan Festival opening ceremony will return to Tambunan

KOTA KINABALU: The hosting of the State Kaamatan Festival opening ceremony will return to Tambunan this year with the organizer expecting at least 30,000 Malaysians and tourists to throng the district for the much anticipated annual event held officially since the 1960s.

Deputy Chief Minister cum State-level Kaamatan Main Organizing Committee chairman Datuk Seri Pairin Kitingan in informing this yesterday, said the decision had been approved by the State Cabinet and preparations were already underway to ensure a smooth festive celebration.

“I have directed the District Officer to make the necessary preparations, including for side event to be held for the celebration, which is the Tambunan Kaamatan Charity Run that will be held on April 25,” he told reporters after chairing the committee’s first meeting at the Public Works Department building in Sembulan yesterday.

Over 100 runners are expected to take part in the charity run, which will have two categories, namely Veteran and Special.

Pairin, who is also the Kadazan Dusun Murut (KDM) huguan siou (paramount leader), said the theme chosen for the Kaamatan celebration this year is ‘Peace and Unity Through Culture’, in line with the emphasis placed by the government on strengthening inter-racial understanding and tolerance among the people.

“In today’s world, we need to stress on peace and unity and Kaamatan as one of the major festivals in the country, indeed plays an important role in bringing the people from different background together,” he said.

Pairin said the hosting of the celebration would promote Tambunan as a travel destination to locals and foreigners, especially those attending the opening.

The event, he said, has long served as catalyst for tourism-related activities, especially traditional clothing and handicrafts, food and beverage, and cultural and arts performances.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Expect the unexpected in Borneo

Did I expect to be able to climb Mt Kinabalu to watch the sun rise? Never.

Was I planning on joining orangutans for breakfast? Probably not.

But then these experiences and more were typical of my unexpected highlights in Borneo.

I chose Borneo for my next Intrepid trip because I loved the thought of seeing amazing wildlife, staying in traditional villages and I was prepared to give the mountain climb a go, but what I didn’t anticipate was just how much of a buzz I would get from exploring this fascinating land.

Getting to know the local people was a real privilege. We stayed in a Dusun village near the base of Mt Kinabalu and were warmly welcomed into the community.

It was such fun to learn how to cook regional specialities in their family kitchen and thanks to a colourful cultural show we got to understand more about the proud Dusun heritage.

On Turtle Island we could kick back after our Kinabalu challenge with plenty of swimming and sunning time, but the real thrills came after dark.

Each night green turtles come ashore and we got to watch quietly as mums dug their sandy nests for their precious eggs.

The Turtle Island Marine Park researchers also released a group of hatchlings and like little wind up toys with their flippers flapping they made their frantic scramble to the water’s edge.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Expect the unexpected in Borneo

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sabah tourism players told to grab a bigger slice of Muslim tourism market

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism industry players need to enhance the quality of their products and service delivery to grab a bigger slice of the burgeoning, lucrative global Muslim travel market.

In the year 2013 alone, the value of the Muslim tourism market peaked USD 140 billion, according to the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF).

Sabah Tourism Board Chairman, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai noted Sabah holds great potential to become a world-class destination which offers quality halal vacation packages which can be enjoyed by visitors from around the world.

“The vast prospect of the Muslim tourism market provides a bright opportunity for local industry players to develop new, improved halal holiday packages, quality services and products at the highest standard which can be enjoyed by Muslims and non-Muslims alike,” he said.

Speaking to reporters after officiating the closing ceremony of the regional seminar on Islamic tourism (RESIT 2015), Joniston believed that local industry players need to continue improving their products and services to tap into the vast potential of the global Muslim tourism market.

The explosive rise of halal tourism, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) accounts for 13 per cent of the total global travel expenditure and is expected to reach USD 200 billion by the year 2020.

Malaysia remains a top holiday destination for Muslim travellers around the world, having been rated as the most Muslim-friendly tourist destination for four consecutive years since 2011.

Director-General of the Islamic Tourism Centre, Zulkifli Md Said said travel packages for Malaysia offering halal food, products, Muslim-friendly services and facilities find approval with Muslim travellers from the Middle East and non-Muslim countries.

“Muslim tourists have religious obligations which need to be performed even while travelling and local industry players, including resorts and hotels ensure that certain conditions are fulfilled such as halal food and prayer rooms,” he said.

Held for the first time in Borneo, the annual RESIT seminar was organised by the Islamic Tourism Center (ITC) to promote greater awareness and educate local tourism industry players on Islamic tourism.

This year, the two-day programme from Jan 12 to Jan 13 at the Pacific Sutera Harbour Resort was attended by 63 members throughout the country, including international participants from Brunei, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

MAS Offers Discounts On International, Domestic Flights

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is offering low all-inclusive return tickets to London, Paris or Istanbul at RM2,499 as well as to Sydney or Melbourne at RM1,450 for travel from Jan 17 or March 1 until Nov 30, 2015.

The sale, which runs from tomorrow until Jan 24, 2015, will enable travelers to plan their travel for the entire year, MAS Regional Senior Vice-President for Malaysia Datuk Muzammil Mohamad said in a statement today.

He said other international destinations up for grab were all-inclusive fares to Shanghai (from RM999), Singapore (from RM250), and Denpasar and Ho Chi Minh (from RM450).

Great deals are also being offered on business class (from RM699) to both domestic and international destinations, he added.

"Incredible promotions from as low as RM129 return all-inclusive tickets for domestic destinations and RM199 (return all-inclusive) for international routes on economy class are also available," he said.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Hopes for Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre to be declared a Ramsar Site

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wetland Conservation Society (SWCS) is hoping to get the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre (KKWC) declared a Ramsar Site at the Ramsar Convention Day this year.

“The convention is expected to be held in Uruguay in June this year,” said society president, Datuk Zainie Abdul Aucasa.

The 24-hectare KKWC has been nominated to be declared a Ramsar Site since 2012. However, since a new procedure was introduced by the Ramsar headquarters, SWCS had no choice but to abide by it.

“We have already submitted the nomination manually through the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry in Europe last year but the procedure has changed which requires the submission to be made online,” he said. The online system is still new to many, including the SWCS members, he told reporters when met at the Jesselton Point Jetty last Saturday evening.

“To be familiar with the system, the federal ministry has sent one representative to Cambodia for training recently,” he added.

SWCS is currently working closely with the Sabah Biodiversity Centre (SBC) to do the filing for the online nomination.

Zainie told reporters that SWCS will try to expedite the process and hopefully by June, KKWC will be declared a Ramsar Site.

It will be a great achievement to SWCS as the KKWC is located within a 10-kilometre radius of the city centre, thus making it as one of the few urban Ramsar Sites in the world.

Zainie said if everything went according to plan, SWCS will hold double celebrations in one ceremony.

“One is for when KKWC is declared a Ramsar site and the other is to launch a book,” he said, adding that the book is now close to completion with only an official write-up and some photographs of KKWC that are pending.

Ramsar Site is a recognition given to a wetland area for the purpose of global biological diversity conservation through ecological and hydrological functions.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Biking through Borneo

Over two days in July I attempted to carve up around 70km of regional links to a number of disconnected Bornean towns by means of bus, bike and boot. Let it be said, however, that it’s a region of Asia which encompasses every facet of the simple life that ‘ruffians’ Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie would deem untameable.

Detached from the wider world by walls of dense ancient jungle that limit a community’s movement to walking, unless they willingly drive over several mountains to reach the nearest grocery store, adventure company Bike Borneo have packaged up the local life in the Malaysian state of Sabah and successfully sold it to daredevils and fitness-junkies alike.

Unbeknownst to us non-Olympians however is that a large proportion of the severely steep and rocky inclines are almost unsurpassable, lest you bust a lung or die trying. This might be the kind of adventure Lance Armstrong deems a cinch compared to the Tour de France, but for people like myself who barely know how to do a push-up, cycling over mountaintops sounds worse than white-water rafting down the river Styx for all eternity.

To be fair, I was completely aware of the distance I would be undertaking for the sake of exploration and exercise (I’m still convinced that a look into the mirror pre-departure was what got me in the mood initially). However, it didn’t exactly dawn on me just how difficult the task was until I was pedalling first-gear more than 500 metres uphill, heaven most certainly within reach if I were forty years older and diagnosed with an ill-fated heart condition.


Undertaking the journey was certainly a challenge.

There was blood (I managed to snag my useless limbs in the spikes of the tyres numerous times), sweat and tears – mostly in response to high humidity and temperatures soaring above 35 degrees celsius. What I didn’t see coming my way were the moments of utter magic; for despite every minute of wishing my legs would go numb and the pain would no longer be unbearable, I knew that this battle with my bicycle placed me in a position of the world that was still, in comparison to mainland Asia, largely unexplored.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Biking through Borneo

Attenborough documentary sheds light on unique Borneo wildlife

KOTA KINABALU: The launch of British naturalist Sir David Atten­borough’s documentary film Con­quest of the Skies will bring Sabah tourism to greater heights, said state Tourism, Culture and En­vi­ron­ment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He said the documentary would boost Sabah as an eco-tourism destination and create more spin-off jobs for the local tourism industry.

Attenborough’s documentary, which debuted on New Year’s Day, shows a variety of insects and animals with bones that have evolved to fly.

One segment of the documentary shows, among others, flying reptiles such as frogs and snakes in Borneo.

The film also analyses gliding reptiles, parachuting mammals, acrobatic insects and the exquisite and intricate aerial world of birds on location at a number of locations all over the world.

Masidi said the state government was also expecting a larger number of Australian and British war veterans to visit Sabah to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

In his New Year’s message in the Sabah tourism magazine, Masidi said many visitors came to Sabah to see nature.

He added that the state would create more policies to protect and promote conservation.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Tambunan to host State-level Harvest Festival launch

TAMBUNAN: Tambunan will host the launch of the State-level Harvest (Kaamatan) Festival on May 1 this year, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said here yesterday.

He said this would give the State Legislative Assembly an opportunity to play host to about 500 delegates from Commonwealth countries.

“I ask the people of this region, including the Interior to participatein the event by stepping up efforts in putting up an exhibition about the background, history and culture in this state,” he said in his message to the heads of state and federal departments at a meeting held at the District Office Operation room here.

To prepare early for the festival, Pairin, who is alsoTambunan Assemblyman, advised people from the Interior to take an active role to ensure the success of the launching ceremony held at Pisompuruan Plain here.

He said all the programmes would be held this year, organized by the Districtl Office, including improving the quality of work of government departments and staff to be more responsible.

“As a leader in this area, I ask all parties, including heads of government departments in this area to do their best for this year in an effort to improve the quality of this area in the eyes of tourists.

“We also hope that the government departments would improve performance, especially in the tourism, agriculture, manufacturing sectors in conjunction with the launching of this festival,” he said.

Pairin, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development, said Tambunan District had been given the opportunity to launch a state-level Kaamatan Festival as required by the State Assembly to faciliate the participation of about 500 representatives of Commonwealth countries.

“I ask the people in this area to take this opportunity to make this area to be recognized by the international community.”

He said the presence of representatives of Commonwealth countries is historical and the was a need to intensify something unique to be put forward in conjunction with the launch of the festival on May 1.

He said, as a district famous for bamboo, the people here have shown also need bamboo because there was still need the tools around them than they are easily available.

“The bamboo can be used as a tool to beautify by having a bambo fence competition along the road from Kampung Tangaban to Kampung Pupulutan.