KOTA KINABALU: While Sarawakians have Bintangor and Sarikei known for their green orange and pineapple, Sabahans have Beaufort, known for the same produce.
Traditionally, the district’s economic activities used to be cultivation of green orange and pineapple as well as fishing. Recently, however, oil palm has taken over to be the major income earner for the district.
The oil palm industry of the district is dominated by the Chinese and the Bugis, and the revenue from the industry has made significant contribution to its prosperity.
Beaufort resident Mohd Tahir Apong said though the production of green orange which the locals call ‘limau manis’ has diminished, the name still stuck with Beaufort.
“When people talk about Beaufort, they will mention about the green orange. It is what represents our district. It used to be the main commodity that brought us income but in recent years, it has declined. Slowly, the land for green orange and that planted with pineapple is giving way to oil palm.
“As for fishing, it has always been our traditional way of earning a living. We are still doing it,” Mohd Tahir, a Bisaya Malay told BAT6.
He said the majority of the Beaufort population is Bisaya Malay and other native groups. There are also Chinese who are mainly found in town area of Beaufort but many have moved to Kota Kinabalu. With Mohd Tahir were Murin Jurih and Wan Mahmud Omar who happened to be a Sarawakian-turned Sabahan.
“My family moved here when I was young. But I constantly go back to Sarawak. To me, Sarawak and Sabah are more or less the same,” said Wan Mahmud Omar.
Beaufort, according to Mohd Tahir, is also known for its railroad which has been there since 1903. The Beaufort Railway Station is part of Sabah State Railway (SSR) which is the only railway system in the Borneo Island. It consists of a single 134km line linking Tanjung Aru (near Kota Kinabalu), Beaufort and Tenom.
Today, the train is still serving passengers by plying between Tenom and Kota Kinabalu. From Beaufort to Tenom, it takes two hours with a fee of RM2.75 while from Beaufort to Kota Kinabalu (or Tanjung Aru) it costs RM4.80.
“There are tourists who come here just to take the train,” said Mohd Tahir. Swiss Michael Brechbuhler was one of them.
Met at Beaufort Railway Station, Brechbuhler who was with his family came to Sabah through Labuan. After visiting Garama Wetland to view proboscis monkeys, the family specially made a plan to take a ride on Sabah State Railway from Beaufort to Kota Kinabalu.
“This is the only railway in Borneo. It looks old and it looks fun. It is a good tourist attraction. That is why we made a special plan to come and take a ride on it,” said Brechbuhler.