Tuesday, January 25

Borneo Cultural Festival may make a comeback this year, says SMC chairman

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Clarence Ting

SIBU (Jan 1): The iconic and crowd-puller Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) which had been put off since 2020 to curb the spread of Covid-19 will be making a comeback if the pandemic situation permits, said Sibu Municipal Council chairman Clarence Ting.

He hoped that this year, the pandemic would be finally under control even though the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has been spreading fast around the world.

“As for activities, pandemic permitting, the BCF will make a comeback and many other annual activities organised by the SMC will return,” Ting said in a Facebook post last night.

Additionally, he noted that even though many people were financially affected by Movement Control Order (MCO), payment of rates and assessments continued to be at an encouraging 91 per cent.

“We estimate it to be around 93 per cent at closing,” he added.

Touching on road works, he said the Malaysian Road Records Information System (Marris) fund was around RM33 million, where the council plans on using a higher proportion of the fund for drain reconstruction, while road upgrading will continue.

He also mentioned that the council has plans to upgrade Rejang Park market, upgrading of Jaya Li Hua market, to start work on the redevelopment of Sungai Merah Market, and upgrading the Central Market while the temporary Tiong Hua Market would be open soon.

Towards this end, Ting recollected that the whole of last year had been a challenging one for the council.

“For SMC, the whole year of 2021 can be summed up in one word – pandemic. We lived through the most challenging time throughout the year, people from all walks of life, regardless of race, creed or religion. On January 9th, the announcement of 33 positive cases set the tone for much of the calendar year.

“For three months, Sibu had the highest number of infections in the state, MCO declared, many businesses were shut down for three months, some continued to be closed till today. The council was no different, except for scavenging services, the rest of the services like grass cutting, drain clearing and street sweeping were unable to operate for three months. Minor road works began only after June.

“Fortunately, the SDMC (Sarawak Disaster Management Committee) fought hard for vaccines to come and Sibu was given priority given the dire scenario. Limited vaccines were available in late February and the main bulk of the vaccination started in April. I like to thank (Nangka assemblyman) YB Dr Annuar Rapa’ee, YB (Senator) Robert Lau, (incoming Assistant Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government II (Local Government)) YB Michael Tiang and Pemanca Datuk Jason Tai, Resident Wong Hee Sieng, also (Sibu Divisional Health Officer) Dr Teh (Jo Hun) and KKM (Ministry of Health) staff and volunteers for working tirelessly during the vaccination phase to ensure everyone got their vaccination,” he said.

He further recalled that SMC’s work began in earnest after July, with the notables included the expansion of Jalan Igan, the expansion of Jalan Wong King Huo at Aman roundabout, the expansion of Lorong Aman 7, resurfacing of Jalan Pahlawan, while towards the redevelopment of Muhibbah Hawker Center, temporary Tiong Hua wet market, have started work.

“I like to take this moment to remember those who passed away due to Covid-19 in 2021, my thoughts and prayers go out to their loved ones, stay strong and look forward to a brighter tomorrow.

“For those of us who are healthy, continue to practice your SOP (standard operating procedure) diligently and keep your family safe from harm in the coming year,” Ting said.

He assured of continuing to work for the betterment of Sibu, and will work as a team with the councillors and staff.

“I look forward to receiving your invaluable feedback and working together for a better Sibu.

“Here, I wish you a happy new year, I wish you good health and peace on earth throughout,” Ting said.