Friday, May 29, 2009

Dayaks urged to remain united to achieve progress

HAPPY GAWAI DAYAK: Dr Rundi (centre) leads the others in toasting during the Gawai Dayak celebration.

BINTULU: Dayaks in the state were Sunday urged to remain united and work together to achieve more progress and development.

Kemena assemblyman Dr Stephen Rundi in giving this reminder said that being united would also enable them to face the many challenges brought about by modernisation.

He said this when officiating at the divisional Gawai Dayak celebration organised by the local branch of Sarakup Indu Dayak Sarawak (SIDS) at the civic centre.

He also told the community to continue to improve their livng standard by getting their children to achieve the highest level of education.

And with Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) set for implementation, job opportutnities would be plentiful.

Meanwhile, members’s children who did very well in public examination last year were given incentive awards.

Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Resident Ismail Mohd Hanis and Bintulu Development Authority general manager Mohidin Ishak were among those present at the dinner.

SMK Assyakirin is debating champion

THE WINNER: Khaider (sixth left) and guests with the champion team of Wilson (second right) and (from third left) Wadi, Sylvester and Patrick.

BINTULU: Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Assyakirin emerged champion in the divisional Inter-Secondary Schools’ Debate for the Chief Minister’s Cup at SMK Baru here yesterday.

They defeated SMK Tatau in the finals and would represent Bintulu in the state-level competition to be held in Kuching.

Debaters in the champion team were Wilson Ngaring Lim Bungau, Patrick Nari Blansai both From 4 students, Sylvester Effeny Nyalu, a Form 6 student and their substitute debater, Wadi Minggu, a Form 3 student.

Wilson, who was also best debater, said their vistory was a group effort.

He said for yesterday’s battle, they spent five days preparing and collecting materials with help from their teachers.

The materials were obtained from various resources like the internet and library.

They were the opposer in yesterday’s competition with the topic ‘The United Nations had failed to preserve the world peace’.

Asked on their prospects in the state-level competition, Wilson said they were looking forward to beat defending champion SMK Marudi.

“On the paper they look dominant and stronger but hard work is the key of success though the path will be tough,” Wilson said.

Asked if he would vie to be the best debater at state-level, he said he would try his best.

Five secondary schools took part in the competition yesterday namely SMK Kidurong, SMK Baru, SMK Bintulu, SMK Tatau and SMK Assyakirin.

Mohd Khaider Arebi, a representative of Bintulu Education Officer Fatimah Matair, handed over the prizes.

Also present were SMK Baru Parent-Teacher Association chairman Kadir Jaya and Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) representative Khalid Suud.

Yesterday’s competition was jointly organised by Bintulu Education Office and RTM in collaboration with SMK Baru as the host.

State exponents bag nine medals at nationals

BINTULU: The state taekwondo team won two gold, three silver and four bronze medals in the recent Malysian National Championship in Kuala Lumpur.

Both gold medals came from Voon Jun Long of SMK Bintulu in the male individual pattern and individual lightweight free sparring.

In the girls’s section, Voon Shau Chen, also from SMK Bintulu, won two silver medals in the individual pattern and lightweight free sparring.

The third silver medal was won by Sheila Ngali from the same school in the junior individual pattern.

Sheila also contributed the bronze medal in the junior lightweight individual free sparring.

SMK Bintulu’s Khosea Rining and Voon Shau Yin and Eugene Ding Avit from SMK Kidurong won three bronze medals in the male heavyweight individual free sparring, the individual female open lightweight free sparring and the individual male open lightweight free sparring respectively.

Team coach Goh Nae Kwang said about 430 exponents, including those from Hong Kong and Macau took part.

“With a haul of two gold, three silvers and four bronze medals, our team has achieved its target, which is much better than last year’s tally of one gold, two silver and one bronze.

“We have improved an the team’s performance is satisfactory,” Goh said, adding that they had to work harder to do better in the next championship.

Ten exponents from Bintulu Borneo Taekwondo Centre were selected by Sarawak Global Taekwondo Association (ITF) and ITF Sarawak to represent the state in the championship.

Goh hoped his exponents would be selected for the national team to the World Taekwondo Championship and World Taekwondo (ITF_WTF) Festival in Seoul next year.

20 contestants to vie for the Everly Keling and Kumang titles on June 26

BINTULU: The Everly Keling and Kumang Gawai 2009 finale on June 26 will see 20 participants vie for the titles.

The finale will be held at the Grand Millennium Ballroom of ParkCity Everly Hotel from 7.30pm.

Tickets priced at RM50, RM70 and RM100 per person are now available.

For more information call the organiser at 086-318888.

Both Kumang and Keling winners will receive RM100 cash, a trophy, sash, and two-day one-night stay at a Balcony Suite inclusive of breakfast.

The first runner-up wil receive RM700 cash, a sash and two-day one-night stay at an Executive Room inclusive of breakfast.

Meanwhile, the second runner-up will receive RM500, a sash and two-day one-night stay at a Deluxe Room inclusive of breakfast.

The winners of the Mr and Ms Photogenic titles will receive cash vouchers worth RM800.

The Kumang finalists are Jesicca Mong, Wenday Laura Sumur, Aniza Laizaini, Angelina Rancak Lajang, Mellisa Ting Mei Chin, Ting See Yen, Abigel Hailey Tay, Helina Sarani Saba, Florina Declan and Roslyn Sirra Akin.

The Keling finalists are Calvano Edmund Minchong, Augus Mesia, Jimmy James, Louis John, Buchin Tading and Benny Abun Sigar.

Four other Kelings have yet to be chosen.

Switch off main switch before you go for holiday: Assistant enforcer

BINTULU: Those who are going back to the village for the Gawai Dayak celebration are reminded to switch off the main switch box of their houses as well as other electrical equipment to avoid any unwanted incident like short-circuit.

The acting chief of Fire and Rescue Department Bintulu Zone, assistant enforcer Asang Linggir also warned the people of any illegal connection to their electrical power which could lead to electricity overloads and might result in fire.

“For the smokers in the longhouses, please do not simply throw your burning cigarette onto the compound area.

“This is a precaution to avoid any unwanted incident from happening,” said Asang when met during the blood donation drive held at its station here yesterday.

For those driving back to their respective longhouses or villages, he advised them to drive carefully and to avoid drinking before or during the trip home.

On another subject, he said the statistics of emergency cases including fire, accidents, rescue operations and others from January to April this year showed 56 cases recorded.

Meanwhile, a total of 405 prank calls were recorded in Bintulu as compared to 1,942 similar cases during the same period last year.

“By looking at the great number of disturbance calls, we like to advise those irresponsible callers to be more concerned and supportive of the responsibilities firemen need to carry out.

“The prank calls caused a lot of inconveniences and trouble to us. It was a great loss to our working efficiency when the actual emergency calls could not geth through the line,” stressed Asang.

He hoped that pranksters would stop making bogus calls to the Fire and Rescue Department.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Food, trade fest achieves objective: Talib

LOCAL PRODUCT ATTRACTION: The Head of State points to an item showcased by a local entrepreneur as he tours the stalls. Seen second from left is Sng.

BINTULU: The three-day Food and Trade Fest held at Dewan Niaga Jepak from May 22 until Sunday has achieved its objective.

Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman Datuk Talib Zulpilip said one of the traders told him that he managed to earn about RM1,000 a day from the sales of his products.

An additional event in the festival called ‘berambeh’ was attended by the Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin and his wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Norkiah.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Department (Economic Planning) and Assistant Minister of Industrial Development (Planning) Larry Sng and wife and Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Department (Human Resource and Training) Datin Fatimah Abdullah were also present.

Speaking to reporters after accompanying His Excellency to visit the stalls at the fest, Talib who is Jepak assemblyman said the primary aim of the fest was to showcase a wide variety of local food and products of Bintulu.

“This is the second time we organised this event and it seems that the people have given good feedback on the event compared to the previous year,” he added.

He believed the festival would help to better commercialise local products.

Talib said SEDC – the organiser of the festival – would continue to find ways to improve and further promote the festival.

First class nation requires folk with first class mentality: Talib

BINTULU: A first class country has people with first class mentality, said Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip on Saturday.

And to have a first class mentality, one must have good etiquette.

“Good etiquette among the community has a direct bearing on the growth of the country,” said Talib, adding that it determines how effective the country’s administration would be.

He said good etiquette can be developed through various programmes and the yearly activity jointly organised by Shell and BDA – Shell Traffic Educational Programme (STEP) is among the fine examples to develop good etiquette among the young generation, particularly when on the roads.

Talib added that through STEP, the young participants who are the general road users could learn various rules and good etiquette while on the road, for their own safety as well as the community’s at large.

“This programme is very important for the children to get to know the proper etiquette which they should follow and practise.

“Even though it is a small programme, it gives a big impact on the human capital development,” said Talib who was officiating at the closing of Bintulu Division STEP Shell/ BDA 2009 at Bintulu Traffic Park here last Saturday.

Also present were Wong Chee Yong, who representative Sarawak Shell Berhad managing director Dato Wee Yiaw Hin and BDA senior manager (environment) Wan Ibrahim Wan Ali.

Wong said the Shell traffic games in Bintulu is the fourth leg for this year after its launch in Kapit on April 25.

“The state-level finals will be held on July 25-26 in Kota Samarahan,” he said.

As an ongoing commitment, Shell Malaysia organises a variety of community outreach programmes throughout Sarawak and Sabah.

Wong said the Shell traffic games is a true partnership success story since it started in Peninsular Malaysia in 1957 and was later implemented in the state in the 1960s.

“It has educated hundreds of thousands of young children on road safety,” he said.

In Sarawak, about 6,000 students have benefited from the programme every year.

It is meant to create early awareness of the importance of nurturing a courteous culture while walking or driving on the roads, highways.

“The ultimate objective is to reduce road injuries and fatalities through improved road safety consciousness and attitude,” he said.

According to him, road safety is very high on Shell’s agenda.

Wong said Shell always emphasised on four safety rules to their staff: use safety belts; observe speed limit; don’t drive under influence of drug or alcohol and don’t use hand phone while driving.

He said each year Shell allocates about RM2 million to educate students from secondary and primary schools on the aspects of road safety nationwide.

“We will continue to work in partnership with the government to help educate the public through road safety campaigns,” he added.

He advised the participants to apply the safety lessons which they have learnt.

“It could mean the difference between getting home safely and not getting home at all,” said Wong.

A total of 12 primary and seven secondary schools took part in the programme.

The overall champion in the primary school category went to SJK Chung Hua Bintulu 2 with 139 points, followed by SJK Chung Hua Bintulu 1 (138 points) and SK Kampung Baru (129 points).

In the secondary school category SMK Bintulu emerged the overall champion with 148 points. Second and third were SMK Bandar and SMK Kidurong both with 145 points.

Good business opportunity in food industry: Fatimah

BINTULU: The food industry in the state has a big potential to ve expanded.

This is because the demand for food would always be there irrespective of the world economic situation, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Human Resource and Training) Datin Fatimah Abdullah said Saturday.

She was officiating at the Bintulu Food and Trade Fest at Medan Niaga Jepak.

Fatimah said the government was always supportive of the food industry, and would continue to promote the sector.

The products, she said cold be derived from the sea or agricultural resources, and they could be in processed or cooked form.

“Food business actually doesn’t need big capital to start, but it gives good profit to the entrepreneurs compared to the other businesses,” Fatimah added.

Fatimah who is also Assistant Minister for Agriculture (Home Economic and Training) said women should take the challenged to venture into food business.

By going into business, the women folk would be able to increase their household income, she said.

Fatimah said the projected increase in population here due to the implementation of various projects under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) presented an opportunity to those keen in doing food business.

She also urged local food entrepreneurs to diversify their products, including introducing more traditional products to meet the demands of the people.

“We must not only look at the locals, but also people who come from other divisions and outside the state,” she said.

On the food festival, she said it could be a mechanism to attract local entrepreneurs to involve in food business seriously and improve their socio-economic status.

Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Bintulu Resident Ismail Mohd Hanis, Bintulu Development Authority senior manager (environment) Wan Ibrahim Wan Ali were among those present.

Private kindies, nurseries complement govt efforts in education

BINTULU: Private kindergartens and nurseries complement government efforts in providing early childhood and pre-school education to children.

“These institutions have become a necessity to modern families where both husband and wife are working,” said Zaiedy Nor Abu Nassir who is political secretary to the Bintulu MP.

Zaiedy said private kindergartens and nurseries also help raise the standard of early childhood and pre-school education.

He said this when officiating at the family day children fancy dress competition jointly organised by Golden Bee Kindergarten and Taska Madu Emas at RPR Sg Plan here on Saturday.

Zaiedy noted that private kindergartens can provide early childhood education in three languages: Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mandarin.

“This has given a good opportunity for our children to be exposed and learn other languages in the early stage of life,” added Zaiedy.

He pointed out that private kindies and nurseries are more result-orientated and efficient because of competitiveness.

“I can see that my adopted child who is studying in private kindergarten can read and write within three months of learning,” he said.

He hoped residents in RPR Sg Plan would not give any excuses for not sending their children for early childhood and pre-school education as there were private and government kindergartens near them.

The efforts of Golden Bee Kindergarten and Taska Madu Emas in organising meaningful and educational programmes for the children at Sg Plan should be supported and continued.

On the requests for basic amenities and facilities at RPR Sg Plan, Zaiedy said he would request to the relevant authorities for a common toilet and chairs at the Kemas multi-purpose hall so it can be fully utilised for functions and activities to benefit the people there.

Earlier, principal of Golden Bee Kindergarten, Kenny Kong said learning attitude determine the level of success in the future.

Good attitude of learning include being serious on what they are doing, completing the tasks given, following instructions and self-discipline, he said.

According to him, learning is a long and continuous process and results are not instant.

“Therefore, parents are urged to send their children for early childhood education as early as possible,” he added.

Kong said starting next year, a full day nursery programme would be offered to parents’ at RPR Sg Plan.

Meanwhile, a total of 35 teams took part in the fancy dress competition held in conjunction with Parents’ Day and pre-Gawai celebration.

Danniellies Bigam won the top prize of RM100 while second prize of RM80 to Calixtus Manja and third prizes of RM60 to Florence and Melanie.

Fourth prize went to Carolinena and consolation prizes were Veronica Ling, Felicia, Clarissa Demai, Philipus, Wesley Tawai, Oliviana, Natasha Liong and Zacchaeus Engan.

SK Kpg Baru new building to be ready in 2011

BINTULU: The new building of SK Kampung Baru will be completed by September 2011, says Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Department (Human Resource and Training) Datin Fatimah Abdullah.

She said the projects has been approved and the tender for the construction was called in April.

Speaking when officiating at the launching of Bintulu Food and Trade Fest at Medan Niaga Jepak last Saturday, Fatimah also touched on an issue raised by Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip in the just concluded State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting that a polyclinic be built in Jepak.

She said that the projects was still at the drawing stage, which was handled by Public Works Department, and when completed the tender would be called in June.

Assistant Minister of Housing Datuk Dr Soon Choon Teck said this during question time at the DUN sitting recently.

Dr Soon was quoted as saying that the clinic would come complete with outpatient, and maternal and child healt units.

On completion, it would be able to accommodate about 300 patients a day.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Enforce zone system strictly: Van operators

BINTULU: Members of Tatau-Bintulu Rented Van Association have called on authorities like the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB), Road Transport Department (JPJ) and the police to strictly enforce the zone system that operators and drivers must observe.

Association chairman Bakat Imang said his members were not happy that ‘stranger vans’ were encroaching into zones where they were not supposed to operate in with no action taken by the authorities concerned.

Bakat said some vans that were licensed to operate in Zone 14 for example were entering Zone 13 (Kemena route) freely and this angered those licensed to operate in Zone 13.

“This illegal encroachment has been going on for quite sometime, but there is no action taken by the authorities,” Bakat said to The Borneo Post yesterday.

Bakat claimed that there had been incidents where harsh words had been exchanged between the encroachers and those who belonged to the zone concerned in the recent past.

He said in fact one such incident - where a Zone 13 operator and his counterpart from Zone 14 had a fist fight following disagreement as to who should pick passengers first – had been lodged with police.

He said stiff competition in a tight market had nade operators very protective of their zone.

“Our association appeals for strict enforcement of the zone system to prevent unnecessary and unhealthy competition,” Bakat said.

SMT Bintulu ready for nationals test

ON A ROLL: SMT Bintulu players with Arifi (seated, fourth left) and Hakimi (seated fourth right).

BINTULU: Sekolah Menengah Teknik (SMT) Bintulu are gearing up for their biggest test in the National Inter-Teknik football tournament from May 23-28 in Taiping, Perak.

Team manager Arifi Futra said the players would do their best for Sarawak and were optimistic of a positive result.

“With an experienced coach in Mohamad Hakimi, it is not impossible for us to prove something in the tournament,” he said yesterday.

Arifi said their confidence was boosted by the credentials of Hakimi who had successfully coached several local league teams – UPMKB, winners of the Bintulu Football Association (BIFA) Cup 2006, Marine Police, runners-up of the BIFA Cup 2007 and Marine Police, winners of the Petronas Cup 2008.

“We have seen his ability as a coach. Under him, SMT Bintulu became the champions of the State Inter-Teknik tournament as well as the second Tunas Harapan BDA Cup,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hakimi said mental strength and sound teamwork were the big pulses of his team.

“The players have been exposed to higher-level tournaments. Winning the two recent tournaments have boosted their confidence to get a good result in the National Inter-Teknik tournament,” he added.

He thanked teams like ABF, MLNG, PDRM, Uniputra (UPMKB) and Marine Police for helping to fine-tune SMT Bintulu with friendly matches.

In their first match on May 24, SMT Bintulu will play hosts Perak and subsequently, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and Sabah.

Among the SMT Bintulu first eleven are Asmin Mat, Mohd Zainol Ariffin, Firdaus Abu, Semon Ngadan and Mohd Taufik Ismail.

The National Inter-Teknik tournament is organized by the Co-curiculum Unit Teknik and Vocational Division of the Education Ministry.

In the qualifying rounds, SMT Bintulu defeated the following teams – SMT Betong 4-0, defending champions SMT Miri 4-0, SMT Sejingkat 4-0, SMT Sibu 2-0 (semi-finals) and SMT Matang 6-1 (final).

‘Pelah Daleh’ rituals to ensure smooth construction of transmission towers

TRADITIONAL RITUALS: The elderly from the Orang Ulu community offering prayers during the ‘Bungan’ ceremony as Abit (second right) and others look on.

BINTULU: The sub-contractor of the 275kv Bakun-Similajau transmission line project- Trenergy Infrastructure Sdn Bhd- Sunday held a ‘Pelah Daleh’ ceremony at Belaga Bridge, about two hours’ drive from here.

The ceremony was based on the local Orang Ulu belief to get consent and good fortune from the land’s ancestor for their safety before commencing works on transmission towers in the area.

The ceremony was officiated by Hulu Rejang MP Datuk Billy Abit Joo.

Abit said the tradition was very important to the Orang Ulu community.

“By organizing this event, Trenergy Infrastructure Sdn Bhd shows it recognizes the significance of the event to the Orang Ulu and for the company’s safety,” Abit said.

“This ceremony is to ensure that the construction of the transmission towers could be done smoothly and things would go as usuak for the community and the workers,” said Abit, adding that similar events were held before the start of the Bakun project.

The project to construct the transmission towers comes under Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB).

A spokesman for SEB said the project was awarded to Sinohydro-Naim Joint Venture, who is the main contractor while Trenergy Infrastructure Sdn Bhd is the sub-contractor for the project.

He said the project was divided into two packages – A and B – which was worth more than RM200 million each.

“The A package started in September last year and it is now 30 per cent completed and expected to generate its first line of electricity by May 2010,” he said.

Work on B package would probably start by early next year, he added.

According to him, the project would eventually benefit the longhouses folk in Belaga and the nearby areas once the Bakun dam is fully operational.

SEB senior manager Land and Wayleave Sipol Ambun, transmission project manager Robin Tigai, Belaga District Officer Abdul Halim Abdullah, Bintulu Deputy Resident (Development Section) Sirai Daha, community leaders and heads of longhouses were among those present.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Taste of Belacan Bintulu

FOR THE MARKET: Some of the products packed in different sizes with different designs and weight.

TRADITIONAL WAY: Normah (right) dries the mixture of bubuk under the sun with the help of her mother.

THERE is no need for a publicity blitz — people will still know it’s the season and the give-away is usually the smell.

Watch out for any fishermen returning with a boatload of shrimps. For from these pink-coloured crustaceans is made the Belacan Bintulu, a popular local shrimp paste, dark pink in colour with a distinct smell and an exquisite taste.

In fact, Belacan Bintulu is known for its ‘excellent dissimilarity’ to shrimp pastes found in other parts of Malaysia, so much so that its value in terms preserving the originality of a traditional food has been incorporated into the catalogue of Sarawak cuisine.

On April 11, 2009, Belacan Bintulu was declared as one of the state’s signature products apart from kek lapis. The true sensation of its unique taste cannot be precisely expressed in words. The test of the pudding is in the eating, so to speak.

Some people may wonder what’s so special about Belacan Bintulu. thesundaypost recently met a producer of the condiment in Bintulu where shrimp paste has been processed for generations.

Normah @ Hasnah Zamhari is the only businesswoman seriously into producing belacan in the Division.

In fact, she is the first resident of Bintulu to venture commercially into what is usually described as a ‘seasonal industry’.

When the balacan season comes around, business may be brisk but during the off-season, the producer cannot afford to sit back and do nothing but must look for alternatives.

Even at the height of the season, production depends largely on the weather. If the seas are rough, stocks are hard to obtain even at high prices.

However, to Normah, producing belacan is still worth a try even though it’s a challenging business.

While most people in Bintulu make belacan for their own consumption with some operating a small business around the village, Hasnah is tapping into the condiment’s potential on a commercial scale.

Her products have received good response from buyers outside Bintulu, including those in Brunei and peninsular Malaysia.

Making belacan has been in her family for generations and the 45-year-old mother of five inherits the skills (and recipe) from her great great grandparents.

She started out as a vegetable seller at 19 — a year after she got married. She sold her produce at Tamu Bintulu for nearly 20 years before switching to another business.

“I had no other choice. Selling veggies took up most of the day and I needed to spend time with my family. So I decided to do food catering. In fact, in 1989, I was already making small amount of belacan for sale in my village.

“When demand increased over the years, I decided to venture seriously into the business. This was in 2000 and I have been producing belacan since,” Normah said in Kampung Baru where she runs her cottage industry business near her home.

On the difference between Belacan Bintulu and other shrimp pastes in the local market, she said the former was known to provide the main flavour in especially Malay dishes.

She claimed that belacan transformed and lifted the aroma and flavour of food, making it tastier.

“This is what whets the appetite.”

Then holding up two pieces of belacan in front of me, she asked: “What’s the difference between them?”

As far as I could sense, one had a strong smell (not her product) while the other had a kind of nice smell.

Normah then chipped in: “What I can tell you — and I think people here would agreed — is that Belacan Bintulu has a good smell, dark pink in colour and remember, no colouring flavours are added.

“It has a sweet taste. And with proper packaging, no one would bother about its smell even in an aeroplane.”

She pointed out that Bintulu was known for a long time as a belacan-producing fishing village and only in recent years did it become known as an oil and gas town after the introduction of heavy industrial projects.

“So no secret at all about how belacan was introduced here since most of the villagers — even today — are fishermen,” she said.

Any secret recipes?

According to Normah, the ingredients are all the same, only the production method might be different.

The ‘air tangan’ could differ — perhaps an external factor leading to the end result, she reckoned.

Systematic processing, she emphasised, was crucial to meeting market requirements — apart from the quality of the bubuk or urang (shrimps) as the main ingredients.

“Each belacan maker, I believe, has his or her own techniques of producing good quality belacan, particularly in Bintulu.

“For us, the most important thing is a high standard of hygiene during production. Of course, there must also be good quality.”

Normah prefers using the smallest shrimps, saying they make the blending or pounding with the lesung (hard bowl) much easier.

Given a choice between modern technique and traditional method, she will still opt for the latter.

“Using the lesung is much preferred. This way, the quality is more obvious. The traditional method is what makes our belacan unique.

But Normah is also realistic.

“To keep a sufficient stock for the market, we, of course, cannot depend solely on the traditional method but must adopt modern production techniques.”

For now, she is marketing her products at a cottage near her house.

“I prefer doing it on my own because when you send the products to a supermarket, you don’t get maximum returns. So I decide to operate my business from home and customers will come here to buy while some order by phone. This is much easier for me — it also reduces operating costs.”

Since making belacan is a seasonal undertaking, Normah said she made keropok, kek lapis and biscuits to supplement her income during the off-season.

Recently, she was among the recipients of a grant amounting to RM75,000 from the Agriculture Department to expand her business.

Earlier, she received an RM8,000 grant in the form of equipment followed by another RM9,000 grant also in the form of equipment from Kemas.

Asked if she had attended any courses, she said: “For belacan, no, but for kek lapis, I took several courses conducted by the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and for keropok, I attended workshops organised by the Agriculture Department.

She said she welcomed the opportunity from the agencies concerned to promote her products outside Bintulu.

Belacan Bintulu fetches RM30 per kg but customers can get Normah’s products for RM28 per kg if they buy in large amount. Usually, the products can be obtained in the market in February, June, September or October.

How to make Belacan Bintulu

Basic ingredients:
• Shrimps (bubuk)
• Salt
• Tupik or small sago

First, you need shrimps (bubuk). The quantity depends on how much you want to make. For better taste, choose fresh and smaller shrimps.

Before starting the main process, prepare two other main ingredients -- salt and tupik or small sago. Also wash the shrimps clean.

Then, mix all the three items but in the correct quantity because the right amount of salt will make the belacan last longer and most importantly, it will not produce bad smell.

The next step is to keep the mixture in a container or bucket (depending on the quantity) for a certain period (one night), wrapping it with a special transparent plastic wrapper.

After that, take it out and dry it under the sun -- which is more traditional. And no matter how long it takes, it must be totally desiccated.

Once it’s dried out, the next step is to blend or pound it.
It is your choice then to use the traditional method or modern technique -- lesung or machine.

But as Normah has said, the traditional way make the product more delicious and satisfying.

The shrimp paste is now ready. Slice it into cubes or any shape you like.

Belacan can be eaten with green veggies (ulam) and is usually used as an additional flavour in cooking.

Enough food items for Gawai festival

CONDUCTING PRICE CHECK: Daud (left) checks prices of chicken sold at Pasar Utama

BINTULU: The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs here says there will be enough food items for the coming Gawai Dayak celebrations.

Acting chief enforcement officer Mohd Daud Ali said that a meeting he had with suppliers here on Monday confirmed that there would be enough essential items, especially those on the controlled list, for the festival.

However, he warned traders not to take advantage of the festival to raise prices of controlled food items like eggs, chicken, sugar and cooking oil.

“Based on our early inspection most traders are abiding by the rules and regulation, and hopefully they will continue to do so until the celebration is over,” he told reporters after a spot check at Pasar Utama here yesterday morning.

He added that his officers would continue to make regular inspection of the market place to ensure that consumers’ interest were taken care of.

Asked on the price reduction programme launched nationwide recently, Daud said three companies were already taking part in the programme here, namely New World Mart in Parkcity Mall, Chicwan Restaurant and Famous Mama Café.

He said the programme was based on a voluntary basis and mutual agreement between the traders and the wholesalers.

On another subject, he said that 20 supermarkets and department stores here had applied to conduct cheap sales for the Gawai Dayak celebrations.

Preschools vital unit of education system

YOUNG CHAMP: Ismawi (second left) present a trophy to Nur Anissa Mohd Hamid from Sk Kidurong who emerged champion in the Bahasa Malaysia storytelling contest. Also seen are organising chairperson Angelia Rosli Sigar and SK Tanjung Batu headmaster Leo Sebli Boyong.

BINTULU: Preschools should be recognized as an entity of the overall school system and not as a separate unit.

Bintulu Education Office technical and vocational unit head Ismawi Bujang said it was sad to note that some schools treated preschools as separate units.

Ismawi said preschools were vital as it is through them that pupils are exposed to a formal study environment and become better prepared to enter Primary 1.

He said the target was for pupils entering Primary 1 to have mastered the 3Ms (writing, reading, counting).

“The government has spent a lot of money to manage pre-schools,” he said, adding that special concept or working papers should be introduced by preschool teachers and headmasters.

He said all parties must work together to develop ideas abd approaches on how far to merge pre-school interests in annual school activities or events.

Ismawi was representing Bintulu Education officer Fatimah Matair at the closing of the divisional level pre-school carnival and PKBP (Pendidikan Khas Bermasalah Pembelajaran) class at SK Tanjung Batu recently.

“In 1992 we started it with only 10 classes of pre-schools but to date we have 41 pre-schools with 54 classes,” he said, adding that seven schools had PKBP classes for students with learning difficulties.

He said through PKBP, students with such difficulties were given more attention through special learning methods and techniques.

“They (parents) must send their children to PKBP class as the expert teachers are implementing different approaches of teaching method which suits them.

“Parents must plan their children’s future and to do that they must register their special children in PKBP class,” said Ismawi.

He added that the pre-school carnival was part of activities held to scout for talented children and expose them to interpersonal techniques and effective communication.

Winners in all competitions will represent the division at the zone-level competition.

Bintulu will host the state-level pre-school carnival in July or early August.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two schools to represent state in contest

WELL DONE: Fatimah (second left) presents the champion trophy to SJK Chung Hua Miri representative as Abd Muin looks on.

BINTULU: SJK Chung Hua Miri and SMK St Methodist Sibu emerged champions in the state-level Primary and Secondary School Choir Competition respectively held at the civic centre here recently.

Both schools will represent the state at the national-level competition to be held in Johor on June 18.

SJK Chung Hua had chosen ‘Berjaya’ and ‘Mozart’ for the competition while SMK St Methodist sang ‘Tanah Pusaka’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’.

The second and third places in the primary school category went to SJK Chung Sing Sibu and SJK hock Lam Kapit respectively.

In the secondary school category, SMK Chung Hua Miri and and SMK Bintulu took second and third places respectively.

A total of 16 contingents from seven secondary and nine primary schools took part in the competition.

The best conductor in the primary school category was Christine Tiang Soon Ai from SJK Chung Sing while Karen Yong Kai Yuan from SMK Chung Hua Miri was best conductor in the secondary school category.

Among the primary schools participating are SK St Mary Kuching, SJK Chung Hua Miri, SJK Chung Sing Sibu, SK Ng Ngelas Sarikei, SJK Hock Lam Kapit, Sk Muara Tuang Samarahan, SK Kidurong2 Bintulu, SK Abang Aing Sri Aman and SK St Patrick Mukah.

Participating secondary schools are SMK St Teresa Kuching, SMK Chung Hua Miri, SMK St Methodist Sibu, SMK Saratok Betong, SMK Tung Hua Sarikei, SMK Wira Penrissen Samarahan and SMK Bintulu.

Bintulu Education Officer Fatimah Matair handed over the prizes.

Also present was Bintulu assistant education officer Abdul Muin Abd Kassim.

Pre-Gawai kicks off with ‘1Malaysia’ concept

BELAWAN AND KELIGIT: Jame (left) and Mengga with the winners of the Gawai Pageant contest

BINTULU: This year is an excellent time and opportunity for the Gawai Dayak celebrations to kick off with the ‘1Malaysia’ concept.

Sarawak Dayak national Union (SDNU) Bintulu branch chairman Jame Stephen said it is the most appropriate concept to galvanise all races, irrespective of religious beliefs, to work together for the good of the community.

Jame was speaking to more than 1,000 people who attended a SDNU pre-Gawai dinner at the civic centre here recently.

Senator Pau Chiong Ung officiated at the opening ceremony.

He said people from various backgrounds and ethnics are here together celebrating the occasion with the Dayak community.

“I am very pleased to see we are able to gather here and forget whatever differences in political ideology we may have to achieve the 1Malaysia concept introduced by Prime Minister Dato Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak.

“We need to preserve and defend our peace and harmony concept.

“There might be sceptism in the concept but it is a vital need for unity, particularly among the Dayak community if 1Malaysia is to become a reality,” he said.

Jame said it is a way to move forward for SDNU to enhance ethnic relations in Malaysia especially in Sarawak.

“We in SDNU Bintulu are embracing the concept as a guide to foster closer ties and understanding with our brothers and sisters from other races.

“Someone have to get the ball rolling. For this to happen it is indeed a task for the related government agencies to look into,” said Jame.

He said the government agencies need to play a bigger role by giving talks and information to the people in the rural areas, in particular youngsters.

“The youngsters in the remote areas are losing out as most development programmes are centred in the towns and cities,” he said.

“The Dayak community also must do its part to assist in the unity process,” said Jame, adding one should not waste time quarrelling about petty and unproductive issues.

Thus he called on the Dayak community to preserve their valuable heritage, particularly among the young generation with regards to their distinct and unique cultures.

“SDNU is a platform for the young generation of Dayaks to show their talent and leadership capability and strive for a better future,” he said.

Among those present were SDNU president Mengga Mikui, Deputy Resident Sirai Daha, Kidurong assemblyman Chiew Chin Sing, Sarawak Dayak Graduate Association (SDGA) president Dr Dusit Jaul and political secretary to Bintulu MP Zaiedy Nor Abu Nassir.

Bintulu food outlets compete on hygiene

CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY: Dr Un (right) hands over the championship trophy to Dr Rahim witnessed by (from left) Mohidin, Ismawi and Dr Hamli.

BINTULU: Some 180 coffee shops and restaurants are taking part in the hygienic food operators’ competition.

The competition-jointly organised by the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA), Rotary Club of Bintulu and Health Department – began last month and will end in June.

BDA general manager Mohidin Ishak, who launched the competition at ParkCity Mall on Tuesday, said food operators participating in such competitions would benefit greatly.

“By emphasising clean and hygienic food preparation, food operators will avoid facing unwanted incident like food poising,” said mohidin.

He hoped food operators here would take the initiative to further improve the cleanliness of their premises and also improve their food quality.

Mohidin said the reason behind such competitions, which were introduced in 1998, was public complaints on food hygiene in the division.

“BDA as the local authority here is hoping through this competition, if possible each and every food operator will go for a compulsory medical check-up in hospital and participate in food preparation courses,” said Mohidin.

Criteria to be considered in the three-month competition include overall premises hygiene, cleanliness of toilet, workers and food preparation.

Among those present were Rotary Club of Un Chuan Hock, Health Department officer Dr Abdul Rahim Abdullah, BDA assistant general manager (environment section) Dr Hamli Biha and Deputy Resident (social section) Ismawi Salleh.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Adopt up-to-date farming methods for success: Talib

FOR YOU: Talib (right) receives a basket of local fruits from one of the outstanding farmers in the division

BINTULU: The farming community which contributes a great deal to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth needs to adopt latest farming techniques.

Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip in making the cal said this was imperative in view of the increase in demand for good products globally.

He said farmers had to keep improving their work in terms of productivity and product quality.

“High quality and productivity will determine the total success of the farmers in the present challenging global market,” he added.

He said Malaysia had the potential to be an important food supplier if the local farmers utilised all the resources that the country had.

“The government has introduced and implemented various policies and programmes to improve the quality of agro-based industry products,” Talib said when officiating at the Bintulu Agriculture Department open day here last Saturday.

The assemblyman urged farmers to equip themselves with the latest knowledge so as to be more competitive.

“Ina competitive market, we must not only come up with consistent supply of products but also ensure our products are to the global market standard,” he added.

He said the government through the Agriculture Department provided the necessary courses, training, programmes and subsidies to the local farmers to enable them to achieve success.

He stressed that sophisticated, productive and brilliant farmers played an important role in determining the future direction of the country’s agriculture sector.

Agriculture Department director Paul Vincent Ritom and Bintulu Agriculture Department chief Musa Bahazim were among those present at the function.

Talib also presented certificates to some of the outstanding farmers in Bintulu Division.

Consider your duty as an honour, Agriculture Dept staff told

BINTULU: Each and every government servant, particularly those in the Agriculture Department, should regard their task and duty as an honour, Agriculture Department director Paul Vincent Ritom (left) said.

“We should perceive our duty as an honour to serve in line with the call from the state secretary and several other senior government officers recently,” he said.

He said if there were shortcomings in terms of implementation of government programmes and projects, they must be solved and tackled immediately, especially in terms of service delivery.

“For us in the department (Agriculture), our main customers are people from the farming community.

“I welcome our customers who have complaints to make to forward them with complete proof and other information for us to take further action,” he said.

He was speaking during the opening of Bintulu Agriculture Department open day Saturday.

According to Vincent, all complaints would be treated fairly and solved accordingly.

“Excellent service is a must for all government servants,” the director said, adding that strategic approaches should be put into practice.

“Remember that we are here to give our best and excellent service to the community,” he stressed.

Touching on the open day, he said this is the fist such activity organised by the department here.

He said the programme should be used by the public, particularly the farmers to get to know more about the department’s function, products and programmes offered.

Students impressed with unique local culture

BINTULU: Peninsular Malaysian students, on a visit here last week, expressed their admiration for the unique culture, traditions and unity they experienced in Sarawak.

The students, who were participating in a foster family programme (Titian Integrasi IPT 2009), agreed that Sarawak should be an example for those in the peninsular to follow.

Some 60 students had the opportunity to experience the local way of life when they visited Rumah Jilan Agam in the Sebauh sub-district recently.

Among Iban traditions they witnessed were the Niki Tangga, sitting in the ruai, miring and cultural performances such as ngajat, beramban, nungku padi and merebah renyai.

Chin Han Wei, 23, from Perak said the programme allowed him insight on the diversity of local cultures and traditions.

He said the unity of the community and the freedom to practice their respective traditions should be emulated by Peninsular Malaysians.

“I would love to apply all the good things I’ve learnt here when I go back, especially on the RUkun Tetangga programme because it seems to be able to foster unity and cooperation among the communities,” said Chin.

For Mohammad Azwan Ibrahim, 20, from Kuala Lumpur, the programme is ideal for university students in particular during semester breaks.

“I’m enjoying myself in this programme because for the past two years studying here this is my first time going to the Iban longhouse in Sarawak.

“This is a rare opportunity for me to experience the life in longhouse, which should not be missed by anyone because we are taught about the tradition and culture,” said Mohammad.

Penang student Yaashinni Peraniandy, 20, agreed.

“This programme is actually effective to strengthen the unity among the multi-racial communities in Malaysia.

“For me, this programme should be continued since it gives more advantages and also creates solidarity and understanding between the races in this state and might be effective in the peninsula,” she added.

The four-day programme was jointly organised by the National Integration and Unity department along with the Resident’s Office.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Be creative in business ventures, Dayaks told

One must continue to improve and possess ability to discover new business potentials, says Ujang
ATTENTIVE: Participants in one of the several sessions in the DCCI-Smidec workshop
BINTULU: Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) deputy president Dato Sri Celestine Ujang yesterday called on all Dayak entrepreneurs to continue to work hard and acquire as much knowledge and skills in order to succeed in their business ventures.

“They have to be dedicated, innovative and creative and must have the ability to manage their business well. It is up to us to be serious businessmen and know the opportunities available.

“There is no short-cut to success in business. One must continue to improve and possess the ability to discover new business potentials and seize whatever opportunities provided either by private or government agencies,” said Ujang when officiating at the Smidec (Small and Medium Industries Development Corporation) workshop jointly organised by Smidec and State Ministry of Industrial Development at ParkCity Everly Hotel here yesterday.

About 40 participants, mostly DCCI members and local entrepreneurs, took part in the one-day workshop.

Among the agencies involved in the workshop are Matrade (Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation), Small and Medium Bank, Mida (Malaysian Industrial Development Authority) and PPKS (Sarawak Skills Development Centre).

Ujang stressed that good businessmen must also be able to do networking with people and authorities who are able to provide business opportunities and extra information.

“Dayak entrepreneurs must be prepared to work closely with other successful businessmen from the Chinese and Malay communities so that they can learn from their experiences, knowledge and skills in doing successful business,” he said.

He added that good businessmen must know how to be thrifty.

“Once you have started business it is important that you are prudent with your financial management.

“Successful entre-preneurs also should know how many projects they can do for the moment and not do beyond their ability,” said Ujang.

Ujang quoted Benjamin Franklin’s line that says ‘the way to wealth is as plain as the way to the market.

It depends chiefly on two words – industry and frugality – that waste neither time nor money, but make use of both. Without industry and frugality nothing will do’.

He also believed that Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) would definitely open new challenges and vast opp-ortunities for businessmen.

Therefore, he urged the Dayak entrepreneurs to prepare to take up these challenges.

He praised Smidec for organising numerous workshops throughout the state.

“These efforts will certainly be able to provide information as to the various facilities and opportunities made available to businessmen by Smidec,” he said, adding that DCCI would continue to organise more relevant workshops and seminars for the Dayak entrepreneurs in the future.

Earlier DCCI executive secretary Terence Temenggong Jayang said the workshop sought to create awareness among the Dayak entrepreneurs the opportunities and facilities available in government agencies, including government grants.

“It is hoped that through this workshop the Bumiputera entrepreneurs will know better the facilities offered and whether or how to qualify,” said Terence.

He said yesterday’s workshop was DCCI’s second this year after the one held in Sibu on April 23.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Unity should be promoted at an early age: Deputy Resident

BINTULU: An early education to foster unity among the multi-ethnic communities in the state is important to ensure smooth process of integration for the coming generation.

Bintulu Deputy Resident (Social Division) Ismawi Salleh said preserving unity in the community should start from an early stage by instilling good values in the people.

“And if this process is taken for granted, there is a possibility that unity could not be preserved for the generations to come,” said Ismawi when speaking on behalf of Kemena assemblyman Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.

He said this when officiating at the launching of a programme known as ‘Titian Integrasi IPT’ invovlving 60 students at Rumah Jilan Agam in Sebauh sub-district near here recently.

He said unity among the people in the country is crucial for ac continuous development because harmony would enable all projects outlined by the government to be implemented smoothly and effectively.

“Don’t ever hope to achieve much progress and development in the country if there’s no unity,” he stressed.

Thus, he said various programmes had been carried out by the National Integration and Unity Department to close the gap and create better understanding between communities in all states in the country.

“Fortunately in Sarawak the people have no problem at all to interact with each other,” he added.

He reminded the students taking part in the programme to remember that a harmonious country could only be achieved through unity.

Organise activities in partnership with others: Resident

OVER TO YOU: Razali (third left) presents a certificate to Azizi Nawawi, the representative of the participants as others look on.

BINTULU: Artistes and related organisations here were yesterday urged to work out a collaboration and partnership with other quarters if they want to organise events or activities successfully.

Bintulu Resident Dr Razali Abon said such partnership would enable them to use their financial and physical resources prudently while maximising the allocation they had for more activities.

He said this when officiating at the closing of ‘Rakan Muda Seni Budaya (Pemantapan Diri-Tari)’ workshop jointly organised by Bintulu Sports and Youth Office and Bintulu Social Development and Urbanisation Ministry (KPSU) office here.

Twenty-six Rakan Muda members took part in the three-day workshop which was conducted by Tuah Jili.

According to Razali, a good example or resourcefulness, creativity and innovativeness could be seen from the way the Resident’s Office managed to organise 142 activities throughout last year with limited or even zero budget or allocation.

“We managed to hold various activities because of our joint efforts with other agencies and organisations,” he said, adding that inter-agency networking hi-tea was an example of a programme with zero cost because it was held in partnership with other agencies.

He also welcomed any effort from individuals or organisations to expand the popularity of arts performance here.

Tender for rebuilding of SK Kampung Baru already called

BINTULU: Second Deputy Education Minister Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi (right) yesterday said SK Kampung Baru which went up in smoke in 2002 will be rebuilt soon.

Puad, who had visited several schools in this division, disclosed that tender for the reconstruction was called last April 17.

Speaking to reporters during a press conference at Bintulu Education Office, Puad said SK Kampung Baru pupils badly needed a better place for studying.

“I’ve been to the temporary school building which they have been sharing with SMK Bintulu since the school was destroyed in 2002. It’s sad to see the lack of facilities,” he said.

While waiting for the completion of the new school building, alternative facilities would be put in place such as an open assembly hall.

Puad was also worried when thinking of several other rural schools like SK Sungai Selat which he noted was in a dilapidated state and unsafe.

To make the situation worse, the school is too close to the river especially the student’s hostel, he said.

“It can be dangerous for the boarders if the fail to realise that a flood is coming.

“I will ask the ministry to review and relocate the school to a safer site,” he said.

He was also shocked to see big logs in a playing field of the school.

The ministry he said, would not allow such situation to remain for long particularly when it involved the safety of students.

“Even though it is not included under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, it is hoped that temporary measures could be taken to upgrade the canteen and repair the bridges connecting the building blocks,” said Puad.

“I was wondering why there are too many students in schools like SMK Bintulu and SMK Kidurong.

“The packed school will create problems especially in terms of providing sufficient infrastructures.

Puad was also visited schools in the town here said he noticed some problems which should be solved immediately.

“I was told that the water contractor for SMK Kidurong has not been efficient in maintaining the tube wells.