Fun-filled Siniawan Festival on the cards

(From left) Liew, Bong, Inting and Miro (right), give the thumbs-up for a successful Siniawan Festival 2016.

(From left) Liew, Bong, Inting and Miro (right), give the thumbs-up for a successful Siniawan Festival 2016.

BAU: Siniawan Festival 2016, a four-day event of food and music, cultural and various health activities, should be able to turn the once bustling Chinese village into a vibrant tourist destination.

The organising chairman Kapitan Liew Jiu Fung said the inaugural festival which would take place from Sept 15 to 18 at Siniawan old bazaar, would feature an array of activities that cater for all.

To kick start the event, a jungle trekking and cycling challenge would be held including a host of other sports activities such as futsal, sepak takraw, blowpipe demonstration, street and traditional games, and a state-level photography competition.

Those interested to visit historical sites in the area could participate in a programme to explore Rajah James Brooke Heritage Trail. Brooke’s first fort in Sarawak – Fort Berlidah – was in fact built near Siniawan. He also built a bungalow on the summit of Mount Serembu where prominent anthropologist Alfred Russel Wallace had stayed for over a year in 1854.

On Saturday, visitors would be treated to a ‘Western country and Cowboy night’ and live band performances of country western music including classic songs from the 60s to the 80s. The theme coincides with the single-street bazaar’s reminiscent of a typical American ‘Wild West’ cowboy town.

Liew hoped the festival would be successful in attracting a large crowd and make it to the state’s tourism calendar of activities for next year to create a domino affect that would spur economic growth for the local community.

“Before 2010, most people called Siniawan an ‘old people’s town’ because not much was happening economically and job opportunity was scarce. This led to the youngsters moving away to seek jobs elsewhere.

“The situation has since improved after the establishment of the popular Siniawan Night Market and we hope to further boost economic activities in the area,” he said before a briefing to representatives from various state and tourism agencies as well as local authorities here yesterday.

Serembu assemblyman Miro Simuh, Bau District Officer Inting Nyami and Councillor Bong Ngim Swee were also present.

Liew went on to say the festival would also host the mid autumn festival (moon cake), calligraphy exhibition, Chinese chess competition, lantern-making demonstration, lion dance competition and the worshipping of ‘Yue Niang’ (Moon Goddess) and Ghost festival. There would also be a traditional Teochew Opera show and Mandarin ‘Yue Liang’ songs singing competition.

A Bidayuh section would also be set up at the festival with stalls selling handicraft and local delicacies, and Bidayuh cultural performances.

Liew said the committee was planning to turn Siniawan Festival into an annual event. He believed it would be easier to propose for the conservation of Siniawan Bazaar and other heritage sites in the vicinity.

“We hope the Tourism Ministry will play a more active role to promote Siniawan as a heritage site to promote tourism and boost economic activities. This would attract the younger generations to work and do their business here and make the area more vibrant.”

Miro supported the idea to turn Siniawan into a tourist destination. He believed that Siniawan Festival had the potential to become one of the biggest events in Bau District. He also hoped the event would be successful and memorable to help achieve its objective.

At the briefing, he announced an allocation of RM10,000 each from himself and Puncak Borneo MP Datuk Seri Dr James Dawos to support the festival.

Minister of Tourism and Culture Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz had previously allocated RM50,000 to organise the event while Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg contributed RM7,000 from his Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

Abang Johari is scheduled to officiate at the opening of the festival on Sept 15, while Nazri is expected to officiate at the closing on Sunday.