‘Village expansion scheme at Santubong to resume soon’

KUCHING: All activities related to the ‘Village Expansion Scheme’ (SPK) at Kampung Santubong, which were halted earlier due claims that the project was destroying an archaeological site there, will resume soon.

According to Public Utilities (Electricity and Telecommunications) Minister Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi – who is Pantai Damai assemblyman, a discussion was held recently between the Sarawak Museum Department curator, Land and Survey Department director and representatives of the Ministry of Resource Planning and Environment where it was revealed there was no such artefact or any archaeological remains found on the SPK site.

Speaking to reporters at his service centre yesterday, he said the officers who were involved in research works on the site only found pieces of old potteries and other fragments, adding that other major discoveries there were made by the Museum Department around the 1960s and 1970s.

“Only a few fragments such as pieces of old potteries, fragments of what appeared to be from a Buddha figurine and also old metal fragments, were found by the research officers recently. The majority of the major finds was already collected by the Museum (Department) in the 1960s and 1970s. As such, there’s no more archaeological item to be found at the site where the SPK will be on,” he said.

However, Dr Abdul Rahman said the large rocks around the SPK site would be maintained in view of their historical significance, in that they marked the civilisation that existed there between the seventh and 19th century.

He assured all that he would propose for the rocky area to be retained as the landscape for the SPK and at the same time, for them to be gazetted.

“I also plan to bring representatives from relevant government departments and agencies to explore other sites at Kampung Santubong soon, as it is understood that a large part of Santubong – or the Damai peninsula – was where foreign traders first conducted their commercial activities in Borneo, specifically the Santubong area.

“Historically, the Chinese traders had been coming (to Santubong) since the Tang Dynasty in the seventh century (circa 650 AD) and continued to trade there during the Song and Qing dynasties later on.

“Archaeological evidence found around Kampung Santubong indicated that the area was a trading hub way back then,” he elaborated.

Santubong, Dr Abdul Rahman pointed out, was also the stopover for a renowned English trader who was also a naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace. It is recorded that he made a stop at Santubong during his worldwide voyage around the 18th century.

“He (Wallace) collected several specimens of plants and animals such as butterflies and brought them back to England. Physically, he had left his mark here.

“In saying this, the government must undertake efforts to retrace the trails left by Wallace in Sarawak – this is the history that we strive to revive,” he stressed, adding that such move would also revive the ‘tourism glory’ of Kampung Santubong and its surrounding areas.

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