Friday, January 30, 2009

Muslims urged to enhance understanding of religion

CONGRATULATIONS: Daud (right) presents the darul Falah challenged trophy to the representative of surau Al-Mustaqim RPR Kidurong that emerged overall champion of the Quran recital competition while (from left) Suhaili, Bohari, Zarni and Khalifah look on.

BINTULU: Muslims here are urged to improve their understanding of their religion by reciting and practising of the Quran. Assistant Minister in the Chief Minsiter’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said the Quran was the only reference for Muslims to live the life of tru Muslims. “The Quran is not only meant to be recited but its passages must be understood and practised. “Most of us can recite the Quran well, even the pronunciation, but one thing missing is that many do not know the meaning of passages read,” he said when officiating at the closing and prize-giving ceremony of a Quran recital and Nasyid competition at a Penan Muslim village at Mile 10, Jalan Bintulu-Miri recently. Daud also reminded Muslims that knowing the true meaning of the Quran and Islam was not confined to religious elders and the experts. “It is the responsibility of all Muslims to upgrade themselves on their religion and the Quran,” he said. Daud also reminded the committee members of Masjid Darul Falah to come up with more activities that could attract youths in particular to be close to the mosque. He said the mosque was not just a place of worship but a place where Muslims could hold activities to strengthen their faith.

31,000 rural folks to get RM RM22.6 million fuel subsidy

BINTULU: Some 31,000 rural folk in Sarawak with outboard engines will be given a RM22.6 million fuel subsidy by the federal government.

Announcing this on Wednesday, Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tans Sri Alfred Jabu, said the disbursement of the subsidy would be based on the lists recorded by the Resident Offices in the state.

He said the disbursement of the fuel subsidy would be done one-off to three categories of outboard engine owners.

Owners of 10 horsepower engines and below will be eligible to receive RM350 per unit of engine while owners of outboard engine of between 10 to 20 horsepower will receive RM500 per unit engine.

Those with 20 horsepower outboard engines and above will receive RM750 per unit of engine.

“Those who have been left out can approach the Resident or District Officer in their respective areas for registration.

“However, the outboard engine must be authenticated to be in working condition,” said Jabu.

He told reporters this during working visits to Bintulu yesterday, he inspected the road erosion in Tatau, landslides and floods in sebauh and Ulu Sebauh.

Meanwhile, Jabu also gave away fertilisers to hill padi farmers in Ulu Sebauh. Each bag of fertilisers weighed 25 kg and cost RM168.

Damaged roads will be repaired, DCM assures

BINTULU: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang (right) said as of Jan 24 a total of 98 damaged roads state-wide were reported.

These damages included potholes, cave-ins and uneven road surfaces, he said.

Out of 98, 18 cases were reported in Bintulu and 20 cases in Betong, the highest number to be reported, he said.

To a question he said he was happy that his constituency had reported the damages of roads earlier, thus made it easier for th ministry to monitor and the act to repair the damages.

"It is estimated that around RM1 to RM3 million is needed to repair damaged state and federal roads. The cost can be more," said Jabu to reporters at a press conference in Bintulu Airport yesterday.

According to Jabu the damaged roads were now being repaired.

New road system will benefit many longhouses

ALL EARS: Jabu listens to residents of several longhouses in Ulu Sebauh to better understand their problems and grouses.

BINTULU: The government has agreed to start constructing a new rural road system, which is Sebauh Ulu Pandan road, by constructing a Baily bridge across Sg Sebauh near Sg Tisay.

Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communication Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, in disclosing this yesterday, said the road alignment would pass through various longhouses along Sg Tisay.

“The direction is moving towards Ulu Pandan which will form the Ulu Pandan road system,” said Jabu to reporters at the site of the Bailey bridge at Ulu Sebauh near here yesterday.

Asked when the Baily bridge and the Sebauh Ulu Pandan road would begin construction, Jabu said the piling work of the bridge and other construction works would begin before Gawai dayak when all parts had arrived on-site.

“PWD will be responsible to arrange for the transportation and also for the construction here which requires abutment from this bank and abutment from the opposite bank,” said Jabu.

He added that the construction would ensure that the river would still be passable to big boats, meaning the bridge would have reasonable overhead clearance.

“I’m very thankful to the state and federal government for their joint effort which enables one system of rural road in Sarawak to be realised,” Jabu said.

Jabu who was accompanied by Kemena assemblyman Dr Stephen Rundi Utom and several government department heads had earlier visited the landslide victims of 24-door Rh Medan longhouse in Sebauh.

During their visit, Jabu donated RM15,000, Rundi RM20,000 and Bintulu member of parliament Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing RM15,000 to be used for buying building materials.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Proposed: Dance and music academies for a friendly city

BINTULU: It’s time to set up more dance and music academies in Bintulu town in line with its aim to be a Friendly Industrial City by year 2020.

This suggestion came from the manager (Environment Section) of Bintulu Development Authority (BDA), Wan Ibrahim Wan Ali, representing its general manager Mohidin Ishak at an appreciation dinner for Sri Budaya Bintulu dance troupe recently.

Ibrahim said this should start now, in tandem with the town’s development.

He called on government, private and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to begin considering performing arts as a crucial industry to be nurtured for the entertainment of dwellers in a developed city.

“Sri Budaya Bintulu formed in 1999 under the supervision of the Minsitry of Social Development and Urbanisation Office (KPSU) is a good example of a dance troupe which is extremely active in Bintulu,” Ibrahim said.

He said BDA would be supporting performing arts bodies like Sri Budaya Bintulu.

A good foundation is important when nurturing local talents in the performing arts.

A school or academy of performing arts would allow talented people to contribute to its development in the division, Ibrahim said.

He revealed that a museum will be built in Bintulu in the near future but before it opens to the public, it must have something to offer, particularly in terms of art.

“We don’t want the museum to be filled with international paintings and handicrafts, for example, but will focus on local arts,” he said adding that the museum to be built in the centre of the town will need more effort from local artists.

Avoid illegal moneylenders, public reminded

BINTULU: The public, particularly Muslims were told to avoid borrowing money from illegal financial institutions including ‘alongs’.

They should also keep off from the legal ones which claim they are using Islamic procedures and regulations but still charge higher interest (riba) rates.

That advice came from Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman when asked to comment on the subject that there were financial institutions which use the Islamic law but in actual fact were like ‘along’.

Daud said any loan given by financial institutions to the public under the name of Islamic banking but carried hefty interest rate was ‘haram’ for Muslims to continue the transaction.

“Borrowing money from ‘alongs’ is ‘haram’ because they bring negative consequences to the people and the community and should be avoided,” said Daud when met after he officiated at the soft opening of Masjid Darul Falah at the Penan Muslim village at Mile 10, Jalan Bintulu-Miri.

The assistant minister hoped Muslims would not fall prey to the financial institutions that offer easy loans, adding that they should realise that loans with higher interest were a burden not only to themselves but also other family members.

“Loan schemes which are easy to get an approval for are likely the hardest ones for the borrowers to get out from and in the end, it will take them a long time to settle the amount due.”

He said the public should be aware of how the loan sharks would act if they could not settle their loan instalments, especially the interest due.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Culture, arts vital for integration: Dr Rundi

CONGRATULATIONS: Rundi (right) presents a prize to one of the winners

BINTULU: Understanding, respecting and accepting the cultures and arts of other races is vital for integration of communities and for a harmonious and stable country.

Kemena assemblyman Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said this when officiating at the closing of a programme ‘Merakyatkan Seni Budaya’ at Sebauh district.

Rundi said the diverse cultures in Malaysia, particularly in Sarawak, make the state special.

“Different background, religion and way of life will not be an obstacle to unity. Therefore we must preserve the art and culture we inherit from our ancestors,” he added.

The younger generation must understand that culture is a medium to enhance the bond and relationship among people from various groups.

He said the people might have a diversity of culture and arts depending on race and tribe but they share one culture - solidarity.

“Don’t let anyone instil negative values in our culture and community. I’m sure each and every one of us doesn’t want something or someone to destroy the harmony, growth and development we achieved in the 45 years of our independence within Malaysia.

“There is no reason for us to destroy the harmony and evoke chaos in the country, as that will not bring any good to the community,” Rundi said.

He urged the community to respect each other, recognise good culture and try to learn from it and if it’s bad try to correct and give some guidance and advice.

Rundi said respect for the culture of communities set one on the path to becoming a progressive and developed nation.

“In my opinion, vision 2020 is our vision and not about others hence we have to be true to ourselves,” he added.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

General Operation Force camp to be set up in Bintulu soon, says CP

LOOKING SMART: Mohmad (seated eighth left) poses for a group photo with the other police and enforcement officers after the meeting

BINTULU: One platoon of the General Operations Force (GOF) will be set up in this division soon, said Sarawak Commissioner of Police Datuk Mohmad Salleh at a media conference recently.

Without stating the exact date the new platoon would be set up, he said an application had been forwarded to Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) to find a strategic site to locate the GOF camp.

He said a platoon of around 40 to 50 GOF officers in Bintulu will be an addition to the three GOF battalion camps in Sarawak, namely the 10th battalion camp in Sibu, the 11th in Kuching and the 12th in Miri.

Speaking to reporters after chairing a three-day state Royal Malaysian Police Leadership Meeting at ParkCity Everly Hotel recently, Mohmad disclosed that the crime index in Sarawak for December last year so far has shown some decline of 10.35 per cent compared to the previous month.

Also present at the press conference were Bintulu police chief Superintendent Sulaiman Abdul Razak and other district police chiefs.

Bintulu FM goes on air

DJ Razali in da club...

Razali put on the tag name of Bintulu Fm in front of the studio as Monshi (left) looks on.

BINTULU: Bintulu FM on frequency 97.5MHz has been aired to the public for the first time on Jan 1 from 9am to 7pm.

The soft opening of the new radio station of Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) in Bintulu, locatd at Jalan Sommerville, was launched by Bintulu Resident Dr Razali Abon.

The old Bintulu Development Authority building is being transformed to house RTM Bintulu, with just a studio for its DJ ready, revealed acting Sarawak RTM director Monshi Abdullah.

A recording studio, TV studio and editing studio will be added later, Monshi said in his keynote address.

For now, he said they ha ddeployed some 10 to 12 staff from Kuching and Miri, with locals to be recruited after they have received the operating licence.

Bintulu FM will operate for 10 hours in two languages- Bahasa Malaysia and Iban-at about three hours per segment. The morning segment from 9am to 12pm would be in Bahasa Malaysia followed by Iban and back to Bahasa.

For the beginning, the programme will find out taste of the local audience in Bintulu with the DJ opening an interactive line to interact with listeners.

Monshi hoped listeners in Bintulu will give their ideas on how to make the station enjoyable and educational.

RTM engineering director (Radio) Abdul Wahid Hamit who represented RTM director Datuk Abdul Rahman Hamid was among those present at the function.

More non-Bumis needed in dentistry, say dental officer

ORAL HEALTH: (From third left) Thaddius, Tan and Dr Un with Rotarians, dental officers and children from the Salvation Army

BINTULU: The number of non-Bumiputeras working in government dental clinic, particularly in Bintulu is low.

Hence it is timely that dental clinics here recruit more non-Bumiputera officers and dental nurses.

This was pointed out by divisional dental officer Dr Thaddius Herman maling when conductin a career talk for youths from the Salvation Army during Oral Health Awareness Day.

It was jointly organsied by the Rotary Club of Bintulu and a dental clinic at its premises along Jalan Abang Galau.

Thaddius said there should be employees of diverse races in dentistry, so it was possible for employees to take time off during festivities.

“I only have two Chinese- a dental officer and a dental nurse- which is not enough to accommodate the large number of patients,” he admitted.

He said prospects in dentistry were good and that they could get better payment and incentives if working for the government.

They would also have opportunities for further studies and to attend courses to upgrade their knowledge and skills. This would lead to promotions and increase in salaries.

Thaddius said those with PMR, STPM and tertiary education could apply to be dental surgery assistants, dental nurses, dental techno-engineers and dental officers.

He said those interested in careers in dentistry can apply through Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Awam (SPA) using an 8i form from its website at

The basic salary is RM862.73 with allowances for an assistant in dental surgery; RM1,493.44 for dental nurses and dental techno-engineers; and RM2,366.55 with benefits and allowances for dental officers.

He hoped the on day talk would give exposure on dentistry as a profession and instill oral health awareness among youths.

Teeth, according to Thaddius, is vital for the general health of humans since the body needs power generated from food, and teeth is needed to eat-that is good teeth equals good nutrition.

“It doesn’t matter how nice the food is if you don’t have good teeth,” pointed out Thaddius.

He said teeth were related to self-esteem and personality as good teeth gave confidence to interact with people, such as in job interview.

Earlier, dental officer Dr Goh Ee Shung conducted a health talk on healthy teeth and how to achieve it.

Also present at the function were Rotary Club of Bintulu president Dr UnChuan Hock, Salvation Army Captain Tan Guat Hai and Rotarians.

BDA to hawkers: Look after sanitary aspect of market

BINTULU: Hawkers and food stall operators in Pasar Utama Bintulu (PUB) were urged to work together with the authorities in looking after the market’s sanitary aspect.

The called was made by Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) general manager Mohidin Ishak.

He urged food stall operators on the upper floor to dispose of their waste properly and not simply throw it around.

“Through our routine checks conducted on the area, I’m sad to see something like spoons and forks being thrown into the drains, causing their blockage,” he said.

Mohidin asked the hawkers to forward their complaints to BDA should they encounter any problems.

Problems should be solved through discussion and BDA is ready to listen to their problems provided they are forwarded through the proper channel.

He also welcomed efforts by political party members to assist, explain and seek solutions among the traders.

Mohidin assured the traders that complaints raised by them pertaining to maintenance of facilities like pipe, lighting and others would be attended to quickly.

Pasar Utama to be upgraded to 3-star facility

BINTULU: Pasar Utama Bintulu will be upgraded to a three-star market in line with a drastic development in the town’s central business district, says Bintulu Development Authority general manager Mohidin Ishak.

The market is one of facilities in downtown Bintulu to be upgraded, and once all these are completed, that part of the town would become a vibrant business centre, in keeping with city-status once it achieved.

The present three-kilometre stretch of the Bintulu Promenade, Mohidin said, which is smack in the town centre, would be a boon to business activities and a must-see and must-visit place for many years to come.

“The downtown are will be expanded and enhanced according to the town’s masterplan and also in line with the vision to turn this town into a city in a not-too-distant future,” said Mohidin.

The BDA, Mohidin said, would continue to assist the state government in implementing the various projects in Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

The BDA, he added, was ready to coordinate the implementation of a proposed new township in Samalaju if the state government required their assistance.

“At the moment we are assisting in the development of Similajau Industrial Park by providing the infrastructures and other related facilities for the investors,” he said.

Mohidin also said they would bid for more funds in the Tenth Malaysia Plan in order to build more facilities and amenities for the people here.

“One of such facilities is a market cum bus terminal at Parkcity Commercial Centre, which is about 85 per cent completed. It would be operational by April,” he added.

Pasar Utama to be fenced up

BINTULU: Traders operating in Pasar Utama Bintulu (PUB) can now heave a huge sigh of relief as the proposed new fencing has been approved by the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) and is now under construction.

BDA general manager Mohidin Ishak said the RM238,588 project is expected to be fully completed in three months.

The fencing covers a total of length of 316 metres and the project contractor had started works since Jan 2.

Theft and other negative activities at PUB had triggered uncertainties among the traders and they raised the issue to the BDA’s attention a few months ago.

Fencing up the PUB could minimize theft problem at the market, said Mohidin after signing of contract agreement between BDA and the project contractor, Wahon Glass & Aluminium Sdn Bhd at Wisma Bintulu.

Representing the contractor were its managing director Ngu Koh Kee and general manager Dorothy Pau while Mohidin signed on behalf of BDA.

Also present were representatives from political parties (SPDP and SUPP) and the Bintulu traders association.

Conceding that PUB, as a public place, is not too suitable to be fenced, Mohidin explained they had no other choice.

He said BDA had already employed a guard to take care of PUB and since their funds are undersized, spending for more than one guard would be costly.

“Actually, we are thinking of engaging security services for the area but the cost is too high and beyond our allocation,” Mohidin said at the media conference.

He assured that BDA and the contractor would come up with a user-friendly fencing design.

“We don’t want businesses to be affected by the fencing,” he said.

On the opening hours for the market, Mohidin said the traders needed to liaise with the guard on duty.

A systematic way needs to be worked out to avoid vandalism or uninvited guests sleeping at the market, he said.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

MP: People-police cooperation crucial to security

BINTULU: Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (right) wants to see better security in the country in 2009, calling on the people and the police to cooperate.

He said citizens must have trust in the police and should not hesitate to offer information that could help in bringing criminals to book.

“If you have given your full cooperation but the police did not do their job accordingly, I know what to do,” he said without, however, elaborating on what he actually do.

“The people must understand that the country’s security is a joint responsibility that should be shouldered by everyone, especially when it comes to fighting crime,” he added.

The MP was speaking to reporters after attending a special briefing on the security in Bintulu Division at the Resident’s Office here.

Illegal immigrants, crime, lack of police manpower and land issues were among the main subjects touched during the briefing.

The briefing was attended by heads of government departments and agencies, including the police, immigration and customs.

Village heads and other community leaders also attended.

Asked on the involvement of illegal immigrants and foreigners in criminal activities here and in other divisions, Tiong said they had noted the issue and had a few round of discussions with the police on how to overcome the problem.

“The police have taken drastic action and I think so far we control quite well.

“Of course, unfortunately there would be cases of people being robbed,” he said.

Tiong did not explain in details as the cases were still under police investigation.

Ops to ensure traders don’t hike prices

Below are the list of 11 priced-controlled items (retail and wholesale) in Bintulu, Tatau and Sebauh. Maximum retail and wholesale prices of price-controlled goods:
Khalid Abdul Hakim
BINTULU: The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (DTCAM) here is to conduct an operation from Jan 18 to Feb 2 to ensure that traders do not hike the prices of controlled items.

The ministry’s enforcement chief here Khalid Abdul Hakim told reporters that his officers and he himself would be on the ground to monitor the situation.

He reminded traders, be they wholesalers or retailers, to abide by the relevant trade regulations, warning that strict action would be taken if they flout the laws.

Khalid pointed out that anyone found selling price-controlled items above the ceiling price could be imposed the maximum compound of RM7,500 or not less than RM250 under the Price Control Act 1946.

“As stated in the regulations for controlled items, traders should display pink-coloured price tags on these items,” he said.

Those found not displaying the pink tags and failing to put price tags on the items they sell could be fined a maximum of RM7,500 or not less than RM100.

The officer also said traders who were yet to apply for the licence to enable them to sell price controlled good should do so before the upcoming festival.

“Actually we have been issuing the licence since Sept 24 last year, and traders can still apply for them until Feb 2,” he said.

Those who had the licence were automatically entitled to continue using the licence issued by the ministry for the sale of controlled items during three festive seasons.

He said the licence was free of charge.

Khalid, who had earlier held a meeting with wholesalers in the division assured that there would be sufficient supply of controlled goods here for the coming festive season.

He assumed the post of enforcement chief here about a fortnight ago when the acting enforcement chief Balraj Singh was appointed the ministry’s enforcement chief in Sibu.


FUN TIME IN THE WATER: Residents ham it up for the camera.
Flash floods unexpectedly struck Bintulu town on Friday evening (Jan 8). It affected most of the low-lying areas like Kampung Baru, kampung Masjid, Kampung Kamunting and Kampung Jepak. Rising water levels also inundated stretches of roads in the town centre. The prediction of continuous rainfall over the next few days might see flash floods revisiting residents in low-lying areas. The obervation made around the town about 8pm Friday found most of the traders busy moving their belongings to higher grounds. The traffic flow was badly affected as drivers conscious of the risky situation decided to slow down their vehicles. One of the residents in Kampung Baru when met in fron of his house said the water started to rise around 5pm. He added during that time the water level in the nearby stream was rising pretty fast and by 6pm the village was under water even though the rain was not that heavy. Meanwhile, one of the residents in Kampung Kamunting in a telephone interview said this time the flood was bad in their area. Unlike last year, the flood caused by the downpour on Friday evening was unexpected, he said, adding that this was probably due to the poor drainage system. What made it worse was the strong wind, he said. In another scenario, a food stall operator in Kampung Baru was seen operating his business despite the main road and the village premises under water. Personnel from the Fire and Rescue Department patrolled the affected area in case the residents needed their assistance. As usual, children played in the water without fear for their safety. It was said the roads to Pandan were closed due to flash floods last Friday evening.
Some of the pictures taken on Jan 8 at Kpg Baru and around the centre of the town

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Man Behind Sri Budaya Bintulu

>>>Quick chat with Tuah Jili

FEW people in Bintulu know that Sri Budaya Bin-tulu has been around for almost 10 years.

The dance troupe, previously known as Sri Wawa-san Bintulu, was set up in the Division in 1998 and had its name changed a year later.

Managed by the Social Development and Urbanis-ation Ministry office (Bintulu branch), the troupe stages cultural performances at official functions and hotel receptions and has even represented Sa-rawak in cultural dance competitions.

Comprising mostly the younger generation, and even though its members keep changing every year, Sri Budaya Bintulu is still strongly committed to preserving local cultures through dances.

After almost a decade, the group remains unchan-ged basically under its 38-year-old founder, Tuah Jili. The members are looking as sharp as ever, having made the state proud with their positive results in national-level performances and compe-titions over the years,

Tuah Jili, also known as TJ, is a well-known local choreographer dedicated to putting Bintulu on the map through his creative ideas in arranging dance repertoires.

thesundaypost talked with him recently to find out more about his profession and the impact of Sri Budaya Bintulu on a town moving towards be-coming a city by 2020.

Q: Can you tell us a little of yourself?

A: I’m from Kampung Kudei, Kuching. I’ve spent almost nine years in Bintulu as a choreographer under the Social Development and Urbanisation Ministry. I’ve been associated with cultural dances and the performing arts since 1985 when I was 15. A few years ago, I also recorded a few albums of Iban songs.

Q: Am I right to say you are more into dancing than singing?

A: Precisely. But both are equally close to my heart although presently, I’m more inclined to dance than sing.

Q : Why so?

A: Dancing gives me more freedom and opportu-nity to express my ideas and creativity – there
is greater space to use my imagination in planning
dance programmes.

In singing, if you are not the lyrist and composer, then you are just a singer who sings the other peo-ple’s songs. Totally different from dancing. I can dance and create the steps for my dancers at the same time. Creativity is the one thing that spurs my passion in this field.

Q: You formed Sri Budaya Bintulu in 1999 even though it was already set up in 1998 under a dif-ferent name. What changes do you see then and now?

A: Time is moving so fast and now we are 10 years old. Of course, a lot of things has change, and over the years, we have gained more experience and the troupe is now more matured in its perfor-mance. Of course, I have also changed in some ways.

Q: What’s the feedback to your work, especially from the younger generation?

A: The new generation have shown interests in dancing -- if not, you might now find all our dan-cers from the older generation ... grandmas and grandpas. (laughter)

Q: How do you keep the troupe constantly reple-nished with new dancers?

A: Apart from performing at official functions, we are committed to carrying out our objective of promoting and preserving local cultural dances.

Since the troupe is under a government ministry, I open dancing classes for the public, government agencies and the private sector.

Some come to us and show an interest to be in our troupe. Actually, most of our dancers are govern-ment employees and from the private sector.

Q: What is the response from the public?

A: When I first started the group, the people in Bintulu viewed us as something strange. During that time, most of the public were not exposed and educated enough to know and understand the meaning of our dance movements. But now, they know they represent the ethnic groups in Sarawak -- their cultures are illustrated through dances and this something precious that needs to be apprecia-ted.

Q: What do you do to introduce a dance to the youths in particular?

A: Apart from my dancing classes, I move from school to school and collaborate with their dance clubs or associations in organising dance work-shops and giving them information on the latest developments and changes in dancing -- its pro-spects and how it can boost self-esteem and con-fidence. As dancers, we emphasise discipline, and in a way, dancing can also strengthen relationships and promote teamwork.

Q: In what way can dancing help youths?

A: It’s a form of exercise that’s good for health. Most importantly, it helps promote self-discipline. Learning new movements demands high disci-pline. Moreover, through dancing, youths can use their time wisely and avoid social ills.

Q: When it comes to dancing, some people give negative comments, particularly on men who dance?

A: Okay -- I don’t blame them for thinking like that.
But you can’t look at dancers with just one eye. Most have good profession and come from good family. We should not simply judge a book by its cover. We have to look deeper before making any judgement.

Q: Some people think men who dance are soft?
Is it true?

A: No. We dance because we love this art and its aesthetical values. It’s not just about work but also interest in being an entertainer. If men prohibited to dance because some people think they are soft, then who is going to dance on behalf of the male gender? Cultural dances are part of our tradition and cannot be solely referred to as a gender pro-blem or anything bad. We cannot give a negative conclusion just like that.

Q: How do you envisage the growth of cultural dance troupes in Bintulu?

A: In a positive manner, I’m glad schools coope-rate closely with us as a backbone of cultural dan-ce performances in the Division. Most of my dan-cers today used to perform in their school dancing clubs.

We provide them with a platform to advance their interests in dancing after they graduate – even just as a hobby. Even tertiary institutions have their own dancing clubs or associations. I also conduct dancing classes for these students -- for example in Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu Campus.

Q: What’s the best thing that has ever happened to you as a choreographer?

A: Recognition and trust to take part in either a state or national dance performance or compe-tition.

Q: What is the worst?

A: Not winning any awards in a dance competi-tion.

Q: What is your planning in the future? Do you still want to be a choreographer for Sri Budaya Bintulu?

A: I can’t say I won’t go anywhere because I be-lieve the farther you go, the more knowledge and experience you get. But honestly, I still love my troupe and it’s hard for me to go just like that. I’ve been through a lot -- good and bad times -- with my dancers over the past decade. But you never know if it’s fated that I should move next year. Be-fore that, I will make sure the troupe is in good hands … that my successor can bring Sri Budaya Bintulu to even greater heights.

Q: Do you have dreams for your own career?

A: What else I can do – I was born to be in this field. I wish to have my own dance academy some-day, if possible, an academy for Sarawakians. So pray for my wish to come true. We also plan to set up a junior Sri Budaya troupe in the future.

Q: Any last word?

A: I hope Sri Budaya Bintulu will be given full su-pport by the people in the Division, particularly in terms of promoting local cultures through dances. For my dancers, I wish them all the best -- I know they have sacrificed a lot for the group. To their parents, I thank them for their support, trust and permission to let their children join us in many performances and competitions through the years both locally and nationally. Lastly, I hope Sri Buda-ya Bintulu dancers will find more success and make a name for themselves as the best dance troupe in the state even without me around.

The numbers in the group:

1998-20 persons
2001-35 persons
2003-40 persons
2005-50 persons
2008- Present-60 persons

The group’s committee members:

Chairman/ choreographer-Tuah Jili
Secretary-Shariff Brahim
Treasurer-Azizi Nawawi
Clothes-Faizal Abd Rahman/ Gloria Jimbai
Props-Nicholas Salang

Sri Budaya Bintulu’s achievement at a glance

- Represent Bintulu Division to ‘Festival Tari Negeri Sarawak’ (FTNS)

- Emerged the overall champions in FTNS
- The Best group
- The Best Creative Dance
- The Best Choreographer for Creative Dance

The Best Performer for Dramatari Santubung in FTNS

- Represent Sarawak to ‘Festival Tari Kebangsaan’ in Selangor
- Performing at ‘Citrawarna Malaysia’ in Kuala Lumpur

The Best Performance for Creative Dance in FTNS
- Performing at ‘Citrawarna Malaysia’ in KL

The Best Performance for Creative Dance in FTNS
- Performing during ‘Jubli Delima 40th Sarawak Independence within Malaysia in Kuching

- Tuah Jili (as a choreographer/concept- Performing during the TYT 83rd birthday anniversary in Bintulu

- The Best Performance for Creative Dance in FTNS
- The Best Choreographer for Creative Dance

- The Best Ethnic Dance in FTNS
- The Best Choreographer for Creative Dance

- The Best Ethnic Dance in FTNS
- The Best Choreographer for Melanau dance
- The Best Cultural Performance in Pontianak, Kalimantan Indonesia

- The champion in ‘Festival Tari Malaysia’ (FTM) Zone 4 in Miri
- Represent Zone 4 to FTM state-level
Won six awards: Overall Champions award, the Best Costume award, the Best Music Arrangement award, the Best Choreographer award, the Best Traditional Dance award and the Best Contemporary Dance award

- Will represents Sarawak in the National-level Dance Festival 2009 in Kuala Lumpur