Symbol of unity in diversity

Abang Jo declaring open the Corridor as (from right) Kapitan Ling Ah Ling, Talib, Mohidin, Ujang, Ting and Toh look on.

THE RM2.25 million Bintulu Historical and Cultural Corridor, strategically located at Parkcity Commerce Square, is a new landmark that reflects unity in diversity of the people in Bintulu.

Housing and Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said this amenity is a landmark, depicting the history of Bintulu, the roles of the various local communities in promoting cultural and religious understanding as well as the past, present and future developments of the fast industrialising Division.

“What’s important is we interact among ourselves despite our different religious and cultural backgrounds.

“These differences will merge into one and strengthen the solidarity of our diverse population. This is exactly what the new landmark is all about,” he said at the recent official opening of the Corridor.

Abang Johari said the culture of peaceful co-existence among the Iban, Melanau, Malay and Chinese communities would form a strong basis for the development of the country, and Bintulu, in particular.

He added that based on the policies of the state government under former Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and his successor Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem, he is confi dent of a promising future for Bintulu.

“As we are now in the midst of diversifying our economy, we are no longer dependent on agriculture but moving towards manufacturing and enhancing our service sector.”

He said the service sector is very important to any matured economy, especially in terms of tourism which contributes substantially to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Ting (right) pointing to one of the sculptures depicting the history of Bintulu. Abang Jo is second left.

Based World Tourism Organisation (WTO) stats, Malaysia recorded 25 million tourist arrivals last year with 4.1 million coming to Sarawak, injecting about RM8 billion into the local economy.

“In the first three months this year alone, we received 1.1 million tourists — which is better than last year. So I think by the end of the year, we might get 4.5 million tourist arrivals,” Abang Johari added.

He said his ministry now had a new direction for developing the infrastructure of tourism.

“Bintulu will play a prominent role because we want to develop lake tourism. Bakun Bintulu is the entry point and will be developed holistically to cater for lake resort tourism.”

He added the plan would emphasise the zoning of biodiversity-rich Bakun and also promote the cultural aspects to attract tourists.

The unique local cultures and the beautiful surroundings could make the place a lovely spot for filming.

“The Cultural Corridor is, indeed, a reflection of the unity here.

We have to sustain this unity, not only in terms of our cultural interaction but also in our efforts to set a certain vision for Bintulu,” Abang Johari said.

Earlier, Bintulu Development Authority general manager Datu Mohidin Ishak said the Corridor, mooted in 2005 and constructed in late 2007, was the first collaboration on a community project between the local council and the Bintulu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCCI).

The objective of the setting up of the Corridor in the middle of a commercial area was to promote greater interaction among the communities, he said, adding that the place would be a green spot for landscaping in Bintulu city under BDA’s long-term plan.

“This is the first recreational park with the concept of integration, history and heritage of the various races.

“The ideas are carved into sculptures of the 1Malaysia concept.”

Mohidin hoped the Corridor would imbue a sense of appreciation among the various communities for each other’s history and culture in line the government’s aspiration to further enhance racial and cultural harmony in the state.

This fountain is one of the attractive features at the centre of the Corridor.

He also hoped the place would be used for healthy activities.

Meanwhile BCCCI chairman Pemanca Dr Francis Toh believed the fourth development boom in Bintulu now would be more interesting.

From a small fi shing village with a 5,000 population, no one had ever dreamt Bintulu would be transformed into what it is today, he said.

Toh urged the people to appreciate the facility provided, saying it wasn’t built solely for fun as the aim was also to further enhance the good relationships among the various communities in Bintulu.

Organising chairman William Ting Choon Hua reiterated that the closer relationships between BDA and BCCCI and the enhanced cultural values of the various communities could form the structure for incorporation into a 1Sarawak concept.

Apart from becoming a tourist attraction, the Corridor could be a venue for exercise and recreation.

Ting appealed to BDA to continue supporting the project by improving the environment, putting up fencing, adding other useful features and organising more cultural events.

“We hope the people of Bintulu will be conscious about cleanliness and uphold the spirit of preservation of all the good things that have been installed for our enjoyment and benefit,” he stressed.

Also present were Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip, BDA deputy chairman Tan Sri Celestine Ujang Jilan, Temenggong Barry Yek, local community leaders and members of BCCCI.

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