Thursday, June 30, 2016

Travelmefit: The wild man of Borneo, Sepilok

The drive from the Tip of Borneo to Sepilok was to be our longest drive in Borneo.

We estimated it would take us around 5.5 hours but it in fact took us over 6 hours due to terrible road quality. NB: It is easy to drive in Borneo and a car provides so much more independence, you will however have to be very aware of pot holes and at some points just glorified dirt tracks.

The day was tiring and long and we were grateful to arrive at our accommodation, Sepilok Forest Edge Resort.

With manicured gardens and a pool the resort is fantastic for chilling out.

The restaurant is hidden in the treetops making you feel like you really are in the rainforest!

The food is good, although perhaps as expected the local food by far surpasses the western options.

Tim opted for the chicken sandwich at one point which was not quite what we expected it to be …

The only downside to the accommodation here is that you have the choice of either a dorm room or a chalet.

The chalets were completely out of our budget and so we opted for the dorm, which although completely fine for two nights, is basic.

The reason anyone ever comes to Sepilok is to visit the wild man of Borneo – the orang-utan.

Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orang-utans are currently found in only the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.

The Bornean orang-utan population has declined by 50% in the past 60 years, mostly due to logging and forest fires, as well as fragmentation by roads.

Hunting is also a major problem and orang-utans are killed for the bushmeat trade, crop protection, for pets or for use in traditional medicine.

The Sepilok Orang-utan Conservation Centre does two feedings a day, at 10am and 3pm.

It is advised to get there at least 30 mins before feeding time to get your ticket and make your way to the feeding platform.

The centre was set up in 1964 for orphaned orang-utans, today the reserve has 60-80 resident orang-utans.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Travelmefit: The wild man of Borneo, Sepilok

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wanderingwhitbymermaid: Borneo - Turtle island

I have always wanted to visit Borneo to see the orangutans, particularly after hearing my grandparents talking about their trip there when I was younger, and also as it is one of only two places in the world where orangutans live in the wild.

I had a few days spare on my trip so decided to make a flying visit to Malaysian Borneo!

I decided to do a tour in sandakan in north east Borneo with a guide as I didn’t feel safe going there alone.

I chose to go to turtle island, the orangutan rehabilitation centre, kinabatangan river and the gomantong caves on a 4 day search for wildlife!

Once I had finished my tour of Cambodia through to Vietnam I got an early flight to sandakan via Kuala Lumpur.

Turtle island

On the first day of my tour, my tour guide picked me up early from my hotel in sandakan and we then went to pick up two ladies from New Zealand who were both called Tash. He took us to the jetty where we boarded a speed boat to turtle island, which took 1 hour.

I slept most of the way there, but whilst I was awake I saw the tiny water bungalows where the locals lived and also many pretty desert islands on the way.

We arrived on the beautiful Selingan island, which is actually one of 10 islands that make up the turtle islands.

3 of these islands are Malaysian and the other 7 are part of the Philippines, but Selingan island is the only one which allows a few overnight visitors.

Every night the sea turtles come ashore onto the islands to lay their eggs, and the park rangers then collect these eggs to keep them safe until they hatch, when they are then released back into the sea.

Luckily the guide helped me carry my massively heavy backpack across the sand when we arrived at the island, and I checked into my chalet for the night.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Wanderingwhitbymermaid: Borneo - Turtle island

Tanjung Aru Eco Development involves reclaiming 226 ha

KOTA KINABALU: About 226 hectares (558 acres) of land reclamation would be carried out for the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED).

Project management director Peter Adam told a press conference here yesterday this would encompass 65 percent of the entire project area of about 348 hectares or 860 acres.

Reporters were given the assurance that the reclamation work that would be carried out for TAED would not adversely impact the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TARP) or the surrounding coral areas.

It was also mentioned that hydraulic studies have been done to ensure the reclamation works carried out would not pose a problem and the Tanjung Aru beach would remain stable (not erode).

It is a known fact that the Tanjung Aru beach, including the Prince Philip Park, had undergone serious erosion issues for years and the studies carried out would hopefully help to mitigate the issue.

Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai told reporters that the Tanjung Aru beach has been facing erosion problem since 1985.

“This is one chance for us to transform the beach,” he said.

Yeo also reminded that among the most beautiful developments in the city, the Sutera Harbour Resort, was made possible through land reclamation and that areas in the city such as Segama was also formerly part of the sea that was reclaimed.

He added that he has been involved in the National Coastal Erosion Study and in the protection of beaches since 1985.

He also disclosed that the environment undergoes dynamic changes all the time and goes through a lot of transformation. Yeo also mentioned that studies carried out on the beach water found large concentration of e-coli of between 3,000 to 4,000.

“There will be no more emission of septic tank wastes into Tanjung Aru (beach),” he said.

Yeo also said that efforts will be made to transplant the heritage trees that would be affected by the development. He said they were “cracking their heads” figuring how to maintain and ensure the survival of as many trees as possible.

He also said that the City Hall kept an inventory of all the heritage trees and mentioned that there were about 200 of them with 600 large trees.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Miri Country Music Fest 2017 to attract 3,500 music lovers to Miri

MIRI: Planet Conventions and Events is targeting to attract more than 3,500 festival-goers to the Miri Country Music Fest (MCMF) next year.

Its general manager Letitia Samuel said the MCMF, to be held for the fourth time next year, had been scheduled for two days – on Feb 25 and 26.

“Since the festival was introduced in 2014, we have been holding the event for one day. Owing to overwhelming response, we have decided to add another day for the festival next year,” she said during a press conference on MCMF 2017 at ParkCity Everly Hotel Miri yesterday.

Letitia said this year’s MCMF, which was held on Feb 27, recorded 2,740 festival-goers – an increase of 30 per cent versus last year’s 2,100.

“After another good outing this year, MCMF is heading towards being bigger next year. The venue for the festival will remain the same, which is Parkcity Everly Hotel Miri – the official hotel and also the main sponsor of the event.”

Letitia said to cater for the two-day festival and the increasing number of festival-goers, the organiser would be bringing in more international bands, adding that the shortlisted ensembles would include those from USA, Australia, Germany, Indonesia and Brunei. Moreover, there would be more Malaysian bands taking to the stage this time, she said.

“The concept (for MCMF) remains – it will begin with the festival bazaar and a music workshop before the concert in the evening.

“On Sunday, the concert will commence earlier so that the finale can end earlier as well. This is in consideration for the festival-goers who have to go to work the next day.”

In addition to that, Letitia said the organiser would also be planning to include more activities to further enhance the festival-goers’ experience.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Ancient 'Deep Skull' from Borneo full of surprises

A new study of the 37,000-year old remains of the "Deep Skull" -- the oldest modern human discovered in island South-East Asia -- has revealed this ancient person was not related to Indigenous Australians, as had been originally thought.

The Deep Skull was also likely to have been an older woman, rather than a teenage boy.

The research, led by UNSW Australia Associate Professor Darren Curnoe, represents the most detailed investigation of the ancient cranium specimen since it was found in Niah Cave in Sarawak in 1958.

"Our analysis overturns long-held views about the early history of this region," says Associate Professor Curnoe, Director of the UNSW Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives Research Centre (PANGEA).

"We've found that these very ancient remains most closely resemble some of the Indigenous people of Borneo today, with their delicately built features and small body size, rather than Indigenous people from Australia."

The study, by Curnoe and researchers from the Sarawak Museum Department and Griffith University, is published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

The Deep Skull was discovered by Tom Harrisson of the Sarawak Museum during excavations at the West Mouth of the great Niah Cave complex and was analysed by prominent British anthropologist Don Brothwell.

In 1960, Brothwell concluded the Deep Skull belonged to an adolescent male and represented a population of early modern humans closely related, or even ancestral, to Indigenous Australians, particularly Tasmanians.

"Brothwell's ideas have been highly influential and stood largely untested, so we wanted to see whether they might be correct after almost six decades," says Curnoe.

"Our study challenges many of these old ideas. It shows the Deep Skull is from a middle-aged female rather than a teenage boy, and has few similarities to Indigenous Australians. Instead, it more closely resembles people today from more northerly parts of South-East Asia."

Ipoi Datan, Director of the Sarawak Museum Department says: "It is exciting to think that after almost 60 years there's still a lot to learn from the Deep Skull -- so many secrets still to be revealed.

"Our discovery that the remains might well be the ancestors of Indigenous Bornean people is a game changer for the prehistory of South-East Asia."

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Ancient 'Deep Skull' from Borneo full of surprises

Announcing the Launch of our Newly Designed Website - E-Borneo.Com

We are very excited to announce the launch of our newly designed website.

After several months of hard work and dedication, we are delighted to officially announce the launch today on 27 June 2016.

Visit us at our new web address

The site’s homepage features bright colors, beautiful pictures and an uncluttered design.

We wanted to make the new website faster, easier to navigate, and more user-friendly in addition to being mobile-friendly.

Our goal with this new website is to provide you, our visitors an easier way to learn about’s travel services and also to allow you to browse information based on their own choice.

We sincerely hope you will find the new website with a fresh look, easy to access information and we also wish to establish this website as a source of information for those who visits our site.

Thank you.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pinantung - Delicious, sticky Sabah indigenous treat from sago

PINANTUNG is a delicacy among the Kadazandusun and Tatana people who reside in Kuala Penyu, Sabah, but it is also one of Brunei’s iconic traditional fare, where it is known as ambuyat.

It is sometimes referred to as nantung or nontung.

Pinantung is made from sago, a plant so abundant in the district of Kuala Penyu that an annual festival is held to honour its socio-economic contributions to the community.

At first glance, the dish does not seem much — just a gluey, thickened web of sago in a bowl, which is why pinantung is enjoyed with a variety of dishes, from sour to extra spicy.

A bite-sized amount of sago paste is skilfully twirled on a pair of chopsticks and dipped into the condiment or dish laid before you, be it ikan asam pedas gravy or the more traditional bambangan (a local mango) gravy.

It can also be enjoyed with a variety of spicy, salty and sour dishes, including another local favourite pinasakan (fish braised and boiled in a special broth using ingredients with fermenting qualities, hence it can be eaten several days after it is prepared).

An important tip when eating pinantung is that one should just swallow it and don’t chew.

While it is not commonly found at regular coffee shops and restaurants in Sabah, there are a few places that offer pinantung on the menu.

Look for restaurants that specialise in authentic Sabahan fare such as D’Place in Kepayan Perdana or even Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu; one of the few hotels and resorts that have taken the initiative to introduce traditional dishes through their Tampatan menu.


Kota Kinabalu International Airport is underutilised

KOTA KINABALU: Future development plans are on the horizon but not yet set in stone for Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), said Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd (MASB) senior airport manager Sunif Naiman.

Sunif said KKIA could cater up to nine million passengers per year but its current capacity is at 6.5 million passengers, an underutilization even after Terminal 2-AirAsia consolidation on December 1, 2015.

“If we refer to the figure at this point in time, there is no necessity for expansion of the terminal or whatsoever, but again this is a decision by the top management,” he said during a media briefing at KKIA on Friday.

“Answer, there is but have yet to decide because it (the airport) is below capacity,” he said in response to the Borneo Post.

Sunif revealed that MASB had received notification that certain airlines were interested of turning Kota Kinabalu into a hub.

This includes Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which had also requested for six night -stop aircraft at the airport.

“For info, currently AirAsia, they have six night-stops, MAS five, Royal Brunei one, and MASwings, in fact, has six aircraft but they go to its hangar,” he said.

Sunif said the average passenger growth was approximately five percent year-on-year basis and the terminal is able to cater for the increasing number of passengers for another six to 10 more years to come.

He maintained tha the consolidation had provided comfort and convenience to passengers during normal and peak seasons with no congestion, especially in light of the over utilization of Terminal 2, two million maximum capacity, which had catered up to 3.5 million passengers per annum.

Since the consolidation six months ago, a total of 12,338 AirAsia flights have flown in and out of the terminal at the rate of 68 flights daily.

The airport is designed to cater to a maximum of 3,200 PPH.  However, the current PPH during peak period now is only at 1,764 PPH, which shows that the terminal is still under utilised by 55%.

Statistical study shows that after the consolidation, the SLA for queue time at the check-in counters has significantly reduced to eight minutes compared to 23.92 minutes at  Terminal 2 due to availability of more check-in counters.

Improvement is also seen in queue time at the immigration counters from 17.17 minutes at Terminal 2 to only eight minutes after the consolidation at Kota Kinabalu (BKI) terminal, he added.

“KKIA also experienced smooth operations during last Christmas, Kaamatan, Chinese New Year, and we anticipate seamless operations during Aidilfitri, estimated an increase of 0.2% compared to normal monthly average of approximately 552,000 passengers,” said Sunif.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mysterious attraction to Sarikei and Sibu

SIBU:  Sarikei and Sibu are the two towns which we will try not to miss whenever we are on the current trunk road linking Kuching to Miri.  They seem to have some mysterious magic that tends to pull travellers to them, at least for a short stay.

Though about 100 km apart, Sarikei and Sibu have many similarities.  They are both Foochow settlements where each town has its own strengths.  And because both are Foochow towns, food found in both towns are rather similar.

Perhaps their biggest difference is that Sarikei and especially Jakar which is considered part of Sarikei is famous for its prawn noodle while Sibu cannot boast about the same dish.

For both Sarikei and Sibu, Foochow dishes such as kampua, preserved vegetable vermicelli rice noodle (zao cai hun gan) and red wine chicken vermicelli are commonly served.  Then there are cheap and delicious pastry and cakes like the egg cakes and kompia (the Chinese bagel) as well as “zheng dong pian”, another variety of kompia.

As for BAT6, there is one place that we will always frequent for breakfast – Lai Lai Coffee Shop. Initially it is because the coffeeshop is right below our lodging place.  However, we slowly fell in love with the food offered in the coffeeshop where there is a variety of Foochow dishes including the lesser known “fried pa kuek” which is something quite similar to kuek tiao but thicker and of a different texture.

Apart from the fact that it offers good food, what makes BAT6 like to stop by the place is that those running the coffeeshop are not only friendly but honest people.

In one of the previous trips, one of the BAT members lost her expensive dark glasses.  The coffeeshop owner kept them safely for her until she came back to look for them.

During this trip, the same BAT member lost her purse which contains all the important documents – credit card, debit card, driving licence, identity card and few hundred ringgit of cash in the coffeeshop.  The purse was returned untouched.

BAT6 was waiting at the coffeeshop for a friend to pick them up.  When the friend came, all hopped onto the car excitingly.  Upon reaching the restaurant, the BAT member found she had lost her purse.  They rushed back to the coffeeshop instantly.  On the way, the BAT member who lost the purse thought that there was very slim chance of recovering the purse because the table they were seated earlier was on the five-foot way outside the coffeeshop.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Mysterious attraction to Sarikei and Sibu

Friday, June 24, 2016

Sarikei a bustling riverside town

SARIKEI: Sarikei is a bustling riverside town with the mighty Rajang River flowing next to it, and is not called the ‘Fruit Basket’ of Sarawak for no reason. Its iconic pineapples are something the town should be proud of for their crunchiness and sweetness are unlike other pineapple species.

But the town is not only producing its famed pineapples but also other fruits such as green oranges, bananas, mangoes, corns and watermelons.

Being a vital agricultural centre, a visit to Sarikei would be incomplete without a trip to the wet market.

Hence, the Borneo Post Adventure Team 6 (BAT6) visited the wet market to have a look.

The wet market serves as a main trading centre for the local farmers to sell their produce such as kangkung, pumpkins and chillies.

Besides fruits and vegetables, there are stalls selling fruit saplings, potted flower plants and clothes as well, making the market a one-stop centre for the local communities.

Driving around the town, we realised that it is no less vibrant than the market itself.

It is easy to find fast food outlets such as Sugar Bun, KFC, Pizza Hut and even Pezzo.

When there are many traditional Foochow foods such as kampua, mee sua and kompia available around Sarikei, most foodies would not have a second glance at these fast food.

For those visiting Sarikei for the first time, do not be surprised that a big cup of hot drink in the coffeeshop costs only RM1. Furthermore, there is no such thing as small cup of hot drink like coffee or tea because they only serve one size of beverage.

The town is definitely fast growing as it has opened its doors to international retail outlets such as ShareTea, Guardian, Watsons personal care stores, The Body Shop and Blackball-original Taiwanese tea and dessert.

We also noticed a row of Bodhi trees at the town centre. The Bodhi tree is easily distinguished by its heart-shaped leaves. It was under the tree that Buddha was said to have attained enlightenment.

Slowly leaving Sarikei town centre, we passed a few birdhouses along the way. They are hard to miss as the buildings are dull-looking without any window except for tiny holes. It is at these birdhouses that swiftlets nests are harvested and processed.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sarikei a bustling riverside town

Monday, June 20, 2016

The future is still bright for Sabah’s tourism industry

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah tourism industry is set to march into a brighter future after enduring two challenging years as statistics now show positive signals for the next six to nine months.

Sabah Association of Tour & Travel Agents (SATTA) chairman Dato Seri Winston Liaw said based on statistics, in the first quarter of this year tourist arrivals to Sabah have increased by 5.24 per cent compared to the same period of last year. The international arrivals made up 50.41 per cent of the visitors.

The steady increase was contributed to by the China market with 60.3 per cent, Taiwan with 8.31 per cent, South Korea with 33.9 per cent, Australia with 60.8 per cent, Germany 75.7 per cent and the rest of Europe saw 14.19 per cent, he disclosed during the SATTA bi-annual dinner cum launching of their inaugural SATTA Almanac 2016 by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun on Saturday.

However, there was a slight drop in arrivals from the United Kingdom as well as the United States and Canada which declined by 60.75 per cent affected by the travel advisory issued by the US government, he said.

Looking forward, he said starting from July to August this year, all the 4 to 5 star hotels rooms are fully booked which shows the tourists are beginning to return.

Despite the positive sign, Liaw is also concerned that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will implement a new policy to limit the chartwe flight services per destinations to only three months per year. “I just received news that the CAAC is mulling the idea of introducing a new policy, and if they implement it I think it will affect our plans to mount regular charter or series of flights from China to Sabah because we cannot fly continuously,” said Liaw.

“I urged the CAAC to not implement the policy because it will restrict us to flying only three months per year, and also creates a more hectic schedule for charter flights as everybody will select to fly from June to August, thus creating congestions at the airport,” Liaw explained.

“I hope my plea will be taken into consideration by the CAAC and I hope they will consider deferring this new policy,” added Liaw.

On another issue, he said he has urged Sabah Tourism to put up bilingual notices in languages such as Mandarin and English or Bahasa Malaysia at tourist sites to warn visitors off disturbing the flora and fauna.

“We need to preserve our natural resources and I would like to propose that Sabah Tourism impose fines on the tourists or visitors who are caught disturbing, for instance, the marine life, as their misbehaviour could kill or destroy these creatures,” said Liaw in referring to the many complaints that tourists who are holidaying in Sabah had disregarded respect for the state natural resources during their tours.

He believes the fine could serve as awareness to visitors on the importance of preserving our natural resources. Other than that, Liaw said he had also held a meeting with the Penampang Kadazan Culture a fortnight ago to discuss ways of promoting Kadazan culture as a tourism product.


Sabah Wildlife Dept considering relocating Lok Kawi Wildlife Park to Penampang

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department is looking into the possibility of relocating the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park to Penampang if sufficient land in the district can be found, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun disclosed recently.

“In terms of tourism, this is our contribution to Penampang but the people there have to be receptive to the idea and the leaders there must come and tell us how to make it happen,” said Masidi as the ministry wants to create a tourism product for Penampang to enable them to benefit from the booming tourism industry in suburban Kota Kinabalu.

Presently, the wildlife park is located along the old Penampang-Papar road. “Penampang also has some good land and good paddy field scenery with potential as tourism attractions,” said Masidi during the Sabah Association of Tour & Travel Agents (SATTA) bi-annual dinner cum launching of the inaugural SATTA Almanac 2016 at a hotel on Saturday.

He said Kinabatangan, Kota Belud and Klias have become popular destinations for Europeans and Chinese tourists because the natural beauty has been preserved, unlike Penampang which needs better land development planning.

He said he had discussed the matter with the Penampang District Officer because the irresponsible hill cutting in the district garnered highest number of complaints; an eyesore for visitors.

“I am not criticising the people there, I am just reminding myself and all of you that we need to have planning that serves the future needs of our State. We cannot just take everything now and leave nothing for the future, if one is serious about leaving a better industry for our future generation, I think we need to invest starting now,” said Masidi.

“I would like to apologise for my comments on why the visitors don’t go the Penampang simply because most of the beautiful paddy fields have vanished, now converted into housing estates.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Over 2,000 expected at Highland Folk Music Festival

MIRI: An over 2,000-strong crowd is expected to attend this year’s Highland Folk Music Festival in Long Bedian on Nov 25-26.

Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau, who is organising chairman, said the festival will showcase and promote local music and culture, especially among the younger generation in a rural setting.

“It is promoted through social media, Internet and newspapers for visitors and tourists to come while the multi-ethnic Orang Ulu community will display their cultural dances and etc,” he said during a recent press conference.

It is jointly organised by the Telang Usan Community Service Centre, Miri Resident and District Office, Long Bedian village security and development committee and Federation of Orang Ulu Associations of Sarawak (Forum).

Dennis said the Kayan, Penan, Kelabit, Saban, Bisaya, Lun Bawang, Berawan, Kiput and Kenyah communities are expected to participate in the festival, which also celebrates Long Bedian being elevated to a sub-district under the Telang Usan District.

“The uniqueness of this cultural festival is it’s held far deep in the hinterland of Sarawak in Kampung Long Bedian and nearer to the Orang Ulu community’s lifestyle,” he said.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Dervish whirling dance from Syrian band Broukar at Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival

KUCHING: Syrian band Broukar will be performing the ancient Dervish whirling dance of mysticism at the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), which is set to be held at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Damai from Aug 5-7.

The dervish dance represents a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through mind and love to attain perfection.

The whirling movements symbolise turning towards the truth, while the changes in his attire as he dances symbolise his growth through love, deserting his ego and finding the truth and arriving at “perfection”.

Accompanied by a traditional Arab music band, the performance emphasises topics within Sufism, as this dance is based primarily on the rotation and hand movements in reference to the name of God and His spiritual gift to mankind, where He embraces all mankind and creation with affection and love and ultimately, the dancer portrays that man can learn to do the same.

The dance portrays the spiritual journey as a man who learns to love and to be of service to the whole of creation, to all creatures without discrimination of believes, races, classes and nations.

Named after an ancient hand-made fabric from Damascus, Broukar was founded in 2007 in Syria by Taoufik Mirkhan, Amer Dahbar and Adnan Fathallah and now includes other participating band members such as the Dervish Whirling Dancer, Ahmad Alkhatib, the cellist hadil Mirkhan, percussionist Modar Salama as well as an oud player and vocalist Bayan Rida.

Together, the main concern of the band is to provide authentic oriental music in all its colours and sources, with the revival of the musical heritage of the East.


Donut boat rides to become next tourism attraction on Sarawak River

KUCHING: The city will soon have another tourism attraction centred on Sarawak River.

The ‘Ooha Donut Boat Ride’ is expected to become an alternative means for locals and tourists alike to enjoy the river, apart from the existing express boats, river cruise and ‘penambang’ (wooden roofed boats).

Each of the ‘donut’ boats — all six units owned and to be operated by Sanjung Inspirasi Sdn Bhd soon — is roofed and

has a round table down the centre for passengers to enjoy snacks on.

On Thursday, state officials and members of the media got to experience the ride on these ‘river gazeboes’.

Assistant Minister for Entrepreneurs Development Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais, who officiated at the soft launch of the new service at a hotel here that night, said although the concept was a new one in Sarawak, services similar to it had

already been operating in other states.

“We actually saw this concept from China and we thought that it would be a lovely addition to Kuching’s activities of attractions. This service offers the scenic view of many places of attraction, such as the iconic and historical buildings along Sarawak River — or more specifically, along Kuching Waterfront,” he added.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Promotion for Sabah International Folklore Festival launched

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman yesterday launched the promotion for the 11th Sabah International Folklore Festival 2016 (SIFF) at the compound of Wisma Innoprise here yesterday.

Eleven countries, including Malaysia, will be participating in the 11th SIFF to be held from July 24 to 30 at the Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang.

The participating countries are Australia, Ireland, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Estonia, South Korea, Republic of Sakha Yakutia Russia and Malaysia.

Also those present were the three deputy chief ministers — Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin, Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah and Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan as well as Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

According to Sabah Cultural Board chairman Tan Sri Wences Angang at the launch of the promotion drive for the festival at Wisma Innoprise, they were also waiting for the confirmation from Kazakhstan to take part in the festival.

“If they join, then we will have 12 countries participating,” he said.

There are three main programmes in this year’s SIFF with the theme “Warrior”.

These include the KK City Folklore Parade on July 26 from 2pm to 5pm here; the Sabah Traditional Food and Handicraft Exhibition at the Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang on July 25 to July 30; and the main event, the International Folk Dance competition from July 28 to July 30.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sarawak to woo China and private sector to boost tourism

KUCHING: The Sarawak Government is reaching out to China and the private sector to grow tourism, which saw a drop of 7% in foreign arrivals last year compared to 2014.

Greater spending will be directed at major cities in China including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. The Sarawak Tourism Board is also targeting second-tier cities like Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Fuzhou, Xiamen and Tianjin.

State Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg (pic) said efforts included briefings, training for front-liners, business sessions and trade engagement. So far, a combination of these activities have been carried out in Hong Kong, Taipei, Xiamen and Tianjin.

"The next series in August will cover Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing," said Johari during his ministerial winding up speech at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly here on Wednesday.

"The short haul markets of Greater China has gained our interests over the years. Many (tourists) are looking for alternative destination or extensions of their holidays from places like Sabah, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore."

Sarawak received 4.5 million foreign arrivals last year- down from 4.9 million in 2014 - which brought in an estimated tourist receipt of RM9.87bil, about 9% of the state gross domestic product. National parks remain one of the main draws.

"To meet expectations, the Forest Department and Sarawak Forestry Corporation have identified a few national parks that will be managed by the private sector, namely Bako, where business proposals have been submitted by interested companies and are awaiting Government approval," Johari said.

Other national parks identified for potential private sector management are Semenggoh Nature Reserve, Lambir Hills National Park, Fairy Cave and Wind Cave Nature Reserves.


Confident of successful Visit Sibu Year 2017

SIBU: The Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) is confident that Visit Sibu Year (VSY) 2017 will be successful, thanks to the securing of some RM3 million in funding.

SMC deputy chairman Datuk Andrew Wong said on Monday that the council had received RM1.2 million from the state government last year, and RM1.52 this year.

“Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has promised to give RM200,000,” he said.

“All in all, since last year we have secured close to RM3 million. So, I think VSY 2017 will do well, and everything is on schedule.”

He said since VSY’s launch last March, there had been a lot of publicity on social media including the Facebook page Travel Sibu, which has close to 60,000 page views.

Wong added the target would be 292,000 page views by the end of the year.

He said SMC would be targeting young and adventurous backpackers aged between 18 and late 20s, who would be enticed by food and nature.

“The segment of tourists is into adventure tourism,” he said.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Drawing lessons from Mount Kinabalu tragedy

THEY may be gone but are never forgotten. One year has passed since the tragedy of the Mount Kinabalu earthquake, but the memory is still etched in the minds of the affected residents, survivors, families of victims, “malim gunung” (mountain guides) and other Malaysians.

They remember the day like it was yesterday. On June 5 last year, Mt Kinabalu and the surrounding districts were jolted by a series of earthquakes, which started at 7.15am with an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale.

Eighteen climbers, including four mountain guides, were killed when the earthquake rocked the mountain. On that day, there were 195 people on Mount Kinabalu, an iconic and spiritual symbol of the people of the Land Below The Wind.

Although life is slowly returning to normal with the mountain trails opened to the public and tourists flocking to highland destinations in Sabah, the scars of the tragedy will never fade, just like the 2004 tsunami which claimed more than 250,000 lives in 14 countries, including Malaysia.

The trauma of the climbers, guides and rescuers is felt until today, while the families of the victims are still coming to terms with the tragedy.

The mountain guides were the real heroes who put their own lives at risk and four of them died while protecting climbers during the earthquake. In fact, they were among the first killed in that tragedy.

The guides, who knew the area well, had done the main rescue work by cutting temporary trails through the devastated mountain landscape to bring climbers down the mountain. They risked life and limb to save the lives of others.

The sacrifices of these unsung heroes should be forever remembered and their roles and contributions recognised and appreciated.

For the guides who died in the earthquake — Valerian Joannes, Ricky Masirin, Robbie Sapinggi and Joseph Solungin — they will always be in our hearts.

The disaster has shown that Malaysia can no longer be regarded as being free from natural disaster. It is time for the country to establish a centre that pools domestic and foreign expertise to provide an emergency response plan for any disaster. This should be a priority for Sabah, which is prone to such natural disaster.


Monday, June 13, 2016

20 tour agents from HK taking a peep into Sarawak

KUCHING: Twenty tour agents from Hong Kong were pleasantly surprised by ‘exotic cats’ scattered around Pullman Hotel’s lobby when they arrived here on Saturday evening.

The tour agents are Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents (Hata) members, and they flew in using Hong Kong Airlines’ direct flight for a five-day visit to experience the state’s unique cultures, nature, adventure and food.

The ‘exotic cats’, who are performers from Sarawak Cultural Village, later presented a vibrant dance show to welcome them.

Pullman Hotel collaborated with Cat City Holidays and Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) to host a welcoming dinner for the group. They were treated to a variety of traditional delicacies and local delights, including ‘ayam pansuh’, midin, ‘umai’, ‘terung asam’ soup and beef rendang.

Cat City Holidays managing director Venia Mok told the guests that Sarawak was an excellent place to relax and for adventure.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 20 tour agents from HK taking a peep into Sarawak

Sunday, June 12, 2016

From settlers to snorkelling, Hong Kong has long had links to Sabah

East Malaysian state of Sabah, in northern Borneo, has become a favoured holiday destination for outdoorsy Hongkongers.

Diving and snorkelling on pristine reefs, whitewater jungle rafting and strenuous hikes on Mount Kinabalu, Southeast Asia’s highest mountain, are popular recreational pursuits and only a short flight away.

Less well known are the earlier connections between northern Borneo and Hong Kong, which significantly changed the region’s ethnic composition and ultimately led to indirect – and then direct – British rule.

For centuries, northern Borneo had come under the Sultanate of Sulu (now absorbed into the southern Philippines) and the Sultanate of Brunei.

The western section, Sarawak, was eventually ceded by Brunei to the Brooke family, the legendary “White Rajahs” who ruled from 1841 until 1946, when the territory became a separate colony. In effect, the Brookes sold Sarawak to Britain.

From 1881 until 1946, North Borneo – the northern part of the island excluding Sarawak – was administered by the British North Borneo Company.

As well as generating a profit for their shareholders, chartered companies were responsible for infrastructure development and administration in the territories they controlled.

Other 19thcentury chartered companies included the British South Africa Company, which was largely responsible for investments and expansion into Central Africa, and the Royal Niger Company, which had extensive assets in West Africa.

All were modelled on the by-then defunct British East India Company.


Miri Crocodile Farm attracts visitors to the city

MIRI:  The Miri Crocodile Farm (MCF) at Kuala Baram has in the last 25 years (since its official opening on August 16, 1998), attracted over one  million visitors and tourists to Miri City, which achieved its city status in 2005.

Attracting visitors to the farm, which is only 24km away from the city is easy as it is the only wildlife farm and mini zoo in northern Sarawak and the second such farm after Jong Crocodile Farm and Zoo in Kuching.

However, for sustainability of the farm and in keeping with the standard operating procedures (SOP) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES, Registration No. A-MY-509), is no easy task especially with no funding from the government or other relevant agencies unlike zoos operated by the government.

Thus, it is not surprising that the farm gets critical comments or complaints from the public including the recent one by the Friends of the Orangutans. Among the complaints are appalling conditions where the wildlife including sunbear, pythons as well as horses are kept and also the safety of both the visitors and animals.

“The sun bears are visibly stressed and are suffering from zoochosis as a result of living in a concrete tomb without enrichment. No readily available clean drinking water is seen.

Skinny horses are not fed enough and/or are sick.

They need to be urgently attended to by a vet. A palm civet lives in a tiny cage. Many animals live in cages which are too small, no enrichment is provided, putting all animals under great stress,” commented Friends of the Orangutans.

thesundaypost had the opportunity to interview the managing director of the farm Kapitan Chai Kuen Ming recently to hear his views on the complaints and also various aspects of the crocodile farm management.

Chai believed the complaints were due to misunderstanding adding that the Sarawak Forest Department had suggested the upgrading of the cage for the sun bear even before the complaint was lodged last week.

“We have started upgrading the sun bear cage before Gawai celebration (June 1) and it will be ready soon. Now we have four sun bears, one pair was given by the Forest Department 15 years ago and the one born at the farm is very friendly to human.

“Rest assured that whatever animals that the public can handle are those friendly ones, we don’t compromise on public safety as well as the animals themselves,” assured Chai.

So far he said the farm has clean record with no incident of wild animals or other animals in the farm attacking humans.

“Safety is our top priority. We take every precaution and follow the SOP of CITES and the relevant laws in the state.

“Precautions taken included keeping public at a safe distance from the wild animals like crocodiles and also putting signage to warn public of the danger, while at the same time providing information for educational purposes,” stressed Chai.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Miri Crocodile Farm attracts visitors to the city

More cultural activities drawn up for Bario Nukenen Festival

MIRI: ‘Pesta Nukenen Bario’ (Bario Nukenen Festival) to be held on July 28 to 30 will have extra traditional and cultural activities to ensure guests and tourists have an enjoyable experience and come for a repeat event.

There will also be more traditional food of the Kelabit community to cater to the large number of guests and tourists expected.

“In Kelabit culture, food is associated with hospitality and an expression of friendship, demonstrated by the serving of food at any arrival of neighbours or visitors.

“This culinary heritage is at the very heart of the Kelabits, the Highland community, its socio-economic fabric, culture and tradition,” Rurum Kelabit Sarawak president Dato Isaac Lugun told a press conference at Pullman Hotel here yesterday.

The festival, the 11th of its kind, is organised by Rurum Kelabit Sarawak and will be held in Bario, a village located in the centre of the Kelabit Highlands in the northeast of Sarawak.

According to Isaac, the three-day celebration would showcase the cultural and culinary heritage of the Kelabit Highlands in northern Sarawak.

Pesta Nukenen Bario or ‘Festival of Food’ was initiated to preserve the traditional processing methods of indigenous edible plants, and safeguard local plant and animal species.

“It also serves as a platform to draw the close-knit community closer because over the past decade, the festival has evolved into an annual event to celebrate the legacy of the traditions of the Kelabit community, and a unique and distinctive way of life,” Isaac explained.

Such a unique community-hosted event was a pioneering endeavour with no parallel or precedent in the country.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Room rates in Sibu to stay despite higher operating cost

SIBU: Hoteliers here are keeping a lid on their room rates, despite soaring operational costs as any increment could be counter productive to their business.

Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association chairman Johnny Wong Sie Lee was asked if he anticipated any increase in room rates, come the implementation of the revised minimum wage taking effect this July 1.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in tabling Budget 2016 in October last year, announced that the minimum wage rates had been fixed at RM1,000 (from RM900) in Peninsular Malaysia and RM920 (from RM800) in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan across all sectors, except domestic services or domestic maids.

On this, Wong remarked: “So far, no members have proposed (on the revision of room rates) yet, but most likely not as business is already slow due to lack of tourists.

“Hence, any increase in room rates will hurt us further. We have been hard hit by illegal hotels such as the ‘room-for-rent’ units.”

Nevertheless, he did not deny the implementation of the revised minimum wage next month would increase their already ballooning operational costs.

Asked if their members had any difficulty in following the revised minimum wage, Wong said he had yet to receive any feedback.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Wanderlust: 7 things you must do in Borneo

Impenetrable rainforests, rare wildlife and diverse culture – Borneo is perfect for adventure and nature lovers alike. Here’s what you need to do to get under its skin

1. Swim with turtles in Sipadan

Imagine kneeling on a sandy seabed ogling a large hawksbill turtle, only an arm’s length away. That’s the kind of encounter that awaits you under the crystal clear waters off Borneo’s Sipadan Island.

And it’s not just turtles. Drift across the shallow reef plateau on the eastern tip of this tiny uninhabited island, and you’ll be surrounded by curious batfish and clouds of brilliant-yellow snappers. Snorkel out to where the reef drops away to deeper waters and you’ll meet jacks, barracuda and tuna, as well as the occasional giant Napoleon wrasse.

Sipidan truly is a snorkeller’s paradise.

2. Climb South East Asia’s highest mountain

Standing majestically at 4,095m above sea level, Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. It is also one of the most accessible, with well-maintained paths, and the world’s highest via ferrata.

Whichever route you choose, make sure to look up from the path as you climb. The mountain is a botanist’s Mecca. As well as insectivorous pitcher plants, there are 1,200 varieties of orchids thriving here in the cool, moist climate. It’s home to frogs are tiny as your fingernails too, but, understandably, they are harder to spot.

While it is possible to climb the mountain in one day, most climbers prefer to overnight at Laban Rata, a spacious hut at 3,272m, before setting off before dawn to reach the granite dome of the summit. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a long, revitalising soak in the Poring Hot Springs nearby.

3. Head up river

The mighty Kinabatangan River acts as a pathway into the tangled interior of Borneo. It is a land of pygmy elephants and proboscis monkeys and traditional tribespeople, straight off the pages of a Boy's Own Adventure.

Cruise the river at dawn and dusk, stay in a bamboo hut at Sukau or Abai Village and savour the great food being served. Take a night walk in the jungle with a local guide who will find things you would never have spotted on your own.

The nearby Gomantong Caves are worth a visit for the bats and swiftest and their nests – a spectacle straight out of a David Attenborough documentary.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Wanderlust: 7 things you must do in Borneo

Good response to Hong Kong Airlines flight to Kuching

KUCHING: There has been positive response to Hong Kong Airlines flying here ever since its first flight to the state capital on May 28 which registered about 80 per cent load.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said this is despite the sector being a new route for the airline.

“On June 1, both the inbound and outbound were at full 174 passengers, while on June 4, the inbound was at 174 passengers and the outbound to Hong Kong was at 170.

“On June 8, the inbound flight was at 174, while the outbound was at 150. With Chinese tourists making out most of the numbers,

we see this as an exciting development to the state tourism sector,” he said.

He added that the Sarawak Tourism Ministry was also getting Malindo Air and Air Asia to have direct international flights from Shenzen and South Korea to Miri to promote Sarawak’s northern city as another tourist hub for the state.

He was speaking to reporters at a press conference after the briefing and handing-over of duty from the Youth, Sports and Solidarity Ministry to Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.


Thursday, June 09, 2016

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival Instagram photo contest

KUCHING: A Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) Instagram Contest is being held in which participants stand a chance to win tickets to the festival from Aug 5 to 7.

Organised by the Sarawak Tourism Board, the contest is opened to the public. Participants are to pose at the photo booths, have their pictures taken, and then post their most creative poses to #RWMF2016InstaContest on Instagram.

Contestants are advised to have their Instagram account settings on ‘public’ to allow the contest organisers to view their pictures for judging.

First, second and third places will respectively get four, three, and two complimentary three-day festival tickets as prizes. There will also be consolation prizes of one-day tickets to be won.

The contest is open to those aged 13 and above and winners will be contacted through their Instagram accounts.


Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Bobohizans: The shamans of Sabah teeter between old and new worlds

Even though the person in front of us was clad in the traditional Kadazan gaung of a gold-trimmed black shirt and holding the spiritual kombuongo talisman, it was hard to believe this is a Bobohizan — the spiritual shaman or ritual specialist of the indigenous Borneo tribe.

For one, Adam Gontusan is not a woman.

Most Bobohizans are betel nut-chewing women with wrinkled faces and a wise disposition. Even standing against the authentic backdrop of a wood and bamboo hut in Monsopiad Heritage Village, at the heartland of the Kadazan people in Penampang, the 25-year-old Gontusan is hardly the picture of a traditional Bobohizan.

But modern technology, lifestyle changes and Western ideas over the decades have changed many traditions of this, the most populous tribe in Sabah.

Cultural keeper

The Bobohizan’s role in the Kadazan community was a pivotal one.

They were doctors to the sick, advisors to the troubled, midwife to the pregnant, mothers to the community, mediator in conflicts, keeper of the culture but above all, the spiritual leader.

“They are essentially the expert on spiritual matters and ritual specialists. Kadazans beliefs are rooted to spirits in Nature and the Bobohizan is the medium between our world and that of the spirits... to maintain harmony between the two worlds,” said Kadazandusun Language Foundation chief executive officer Rita Lasimbang.

“When matured, they are also the top of the social order, followed by the village chiefs and then the warriors,” said Lasimbang.

To become a Bobohizan, years of “Bobohizan school” followed by even more years of apprenticeship are needed to permanently etch the many inait or ritual prayers in one’s memory, along with cultural knowledge, beliefs and practices passed on orally and  through observation.

The practitioners are most often women, as the men’s primary job was to hunt while the women took care of the home.

In sub-ethnic groups like the Dusun Darat in Kota Belud, they are known as Bobolian, while to the Dusun Lotud in Tuaran, they are referred to as Tantagas. Their language and rituals may differ but they serve the same purpose.

“Before, people came to me for natural remedies, and I used plants my aunt and mother taught me about. Any reason they don’t feel right, they come to us. Sometimes, people feel their departed relatives are still roaming the house and I have to ‘meet’ them to find out what is wrong,” said a Tantagas from Tuaran, who declined to be named.

She said these requests have lessened over the years, although she was called upon to contact the spirit mountains following last year’s deadly earthquake in June.

For the majority of Sabahans, the most they will see of the Bobohizan is the Magavau thanksgiving ceremony which plays out publicly at the uber popular state-level Harvest Festival.

Penampang’s last hope for a Bobohizan

Gontusan had a typically middle class urban upbringing in the state capital, the second son of a cafe owner who brought the whole family to church every Sunday.

“Growing up in a Catholic family, I never thought I would end up doing this, but when you get a calling, you follow it,” he said with a smile.

Gontusan’s early mentor was the sixth direct descendant of legendary Kadazan warrior Monsopiad, the late Dousia Moujing and his wife, both of whom were Bobohizan during their time. But they, along with other elder Bobohizan in Penampang, were too old and not able to conduct any rituals or fully pass along their knowledge.


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Diversteve: It's raining, it's Poring

We have now arrived in Borneo, the third largest island in the world. It is not a single nation but is made up by parts of Indonesia and Malaysia and all of Brunei. We are in the Malaysian region of Sabah and moving around from Kota Kinabalu to Sepilok via Kinabatangan and Sandakan.

First things first, check out the local eateries and from what we can see the national dish of Malaysian Borneo looks to be either KFC or Pizza Hut, there does seem to be a profusion of these purveyors of high quality nourishment and sustainence. Normally we would try the local cuisine but we'll be giving these to a miss for now so it's back to our normal diet of noodles and rice with everything.

As we wandered aimlessly around town watching the rats go about their business near the dockyard in Kota Kinabalu (capital of Sabah) the heavens opened up and we ran into one of our favourite kinds of restaurant around here (plastic tables and chairs outside and heaving with locals not eating the national dishes). Here we feasted for the princely sum of about £6 between us.

The next morning we jumped on the 11:30 bus to Ranau, we got on the bus with a bit of time to spare which was lucky as the bus left at exactly 45 minutes after it was due to. You've got to hand it to these Asian bus companies they know how to make you feel right at home.

The feeling of being at home continued on the journey as the bus took us over a mountain pass and through some torrential downpours. Our driver was highly skilled at rally car driving and seemed to be keen to prove it on every occasion, shame he was driving a minibus really. It's probably fair to say that there will never be any criticism of Steve's driving ever again.

Anyhow despite our driver's best efforts we arrived safely in Ranau where we picked up a lift to Poring to meet up with the rest of our tour group. The rest of the group were currently descending Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia, we'd been unable to join the trip in time to climb the mountain and so had to be content with looking at it from a safe distance.

At 4096m (13438ft) Kinabalu dominates the scenery for miles around, it is the 20th highest mountain in the world and also the world's youngest non volcanic peak! The highest point is Low's Peak but there are several other smaller peaks at the top. Kinabalu is also still growing at a rate of 5mm a year so at that rate it will be the nineteenth highest mountain in about 2000 years.

We eventually met the intrepid explorers as they hobbled into the restaurant. Having climbed a 3000m peak six years ago we could feel their pain but we also knew they would be walking like that for another week or so. They told us the harrowing tales of their descent in the rain and the relentless slog up to the top, not mention the 2am start but they all did it. We will have to wait for another time and as the mountain is still growing our walk will obviously be much much tougher.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Diversteve: It's raining, it's Poring

Monday, June 06, 2016

Monument unveiled to mark Mount Kinabalu earthquake tragedy

KUNDASANG: Kinabalu Park yesterday officially unveiled a monument to mark the first anniversary of the worst earthquake to have taken place at Mount Kinabalu.

The monument made of a brass plaque etched with the names of those who perished and mounted on a slab of granite made from a boulder that chipped off the top of the mountain during the quake, was unveiled to the media and family of the victims in a solemn ceremony yesterday.

Park officials, led by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, hosted the ceremony at the site of the monument at Kiau view point, about a kilometre up from the starting point of the recently reopened hiking trail at the mountain.

The ceremony started with a one-minute silent prayer for the quake victims followed by wreath laying by Masidi. Others also laid flowers at the monument.

Masidi said the monument was symbolic and reflects the people’s sorrow over the tragedy and serves as reminder that the safety aspects in mountain climbing must be continuously improved.

The minister also led a tree-planting initiative at the memorial site in memory of the four mountain guides who died during the quake.

The early morning 6.0 magnitude quake killed 14 climbers and four mountain guides descending the mountain, making it the worst ever disaster in the Park’s history.

Those killed were mountain guides, Joseph Solungin, Ricky Masirin, Robbi Sapinggi and Valerian James. Also listed on the plaque were Malaysians climbers, Lim Choon Seong, and Muhammad Loqman Abdul Karim. The others were Singaporeans Ameer Ryyan Mohd Adeed Sanjay, Emilie Giovanna Ramu, Matahom Karyl Higuit, Terrence Sebastion Loo Jian Liang, Muhammad Ghazi Mohammed, Muhammad Daanish Amran, Navdeep Singh Jaryal Raj Kumar, Rachel Ho Yann Shiuan, Sonia Jhala and Peony Wee Ying Ping. Also memorialized on the plaque were Japanese Masahiro Ozaki and Chinese national Lu Qi.

Meanwhile, a heartfelt ceremony was held earlier at Laban Rata by the family members and friends of the Singaporean students and teachers who were killed in the quake.