SANG Anau, a remote Orang Ulu settlement in Bukit Mabong District located over 150km away from Kapit town, has great potential to become another major tourist attraction in Sarawak, especially as an eco-tourism spot for the adventurous nature-seekers.
Facing the Bakun Lake, it is tucked 30km away from Tunoh on the other side of Bukit Mabong – also known as ‘Elephant Hill’, owing to its shape resembling the animal.
For now, the journey to Sang Anau is, by itself, an adventure. Extreme outdoor and four-wheel drive vehicle (4WD) enthusiasts would definitely revel in traversing and manoeuvring the rugged terrains along the offroad logging trail.
It is time-consuming too. A 4WD trip from Kapit town would roughly take about five-and-half hours to reach Sang Anau.
Still, In order to unlock this area’s potential as an eco-tourism destination, basic infrastructure must be put in place, says Kapit Information Officer Mohamad Saufi Omar.
“Essential link roads must be built. The proposed road stretching from Merirai to Tunoh, and the new rural airport at Tunoh must be there to better facilitate travelling connectivity, starting from Sibu.
“I believe that upon the completion of the airport, both domestic and foreign tourists would be able to visit this hidden village, surrounded by pristine jungle, and for them to admire the beauty of nature there,” he tells thesundaypost in Kapit.
Mohamad Saufi cites the management of ecotourism adopted by the operators in Mulu as a good example that can be done in Sang Anau.
“Sang Anau can adopt the same concept – providing village homestay for and offering visitors the taste of the daily life of the inhabitants, who are the Uma Baha tribe of the Kenyahs.”
According to the Information Department (Penerangan) Sarawak, the works on the new airport are expected to reach completion by Februari next year.
“Definitely, this airport would serve as the gateway for many visitors, domestic and foreign alike, wanting to experience the adventure in Sang Anau,” says Mohamad Saufi.
Sang Anau is actually one of four resettlement schemes meant for the villagers originally from deep inland Bakun, in a pocket known as ‘Long Jawie’, who had to be relocated prior to the commissioning of the impoundment for the mega hydroelectricity dam project back in the 2000s.
The other three are Long Singut, Long Unai and Long Busang.
Sang Anau has a population of close to 350, comprising 62 Kenyah Uma Baha families.
According to Uma Merang (Village Chieftain) Enyonmos Ngang, the Sang Anau Resettlement Scheme was established in 1997, and was officially declared as one by the Sarawak government in 1999.
“The name ‘Sang Anau’ is taken from a type of tree, with many broad leaves, commonly found in this area,” says Enyonmos.
“But in the absence of a proper road, it’s very difficult to travel to nearest town Kapit, which is over five hours’ journey on-board a 4WD along the logging trail, and also very expensive – the fuel expense alone can reach a few hundreds of ringgit,” he adds.
Reaching out to rural folks
As remote a location as it is, Sang Anau is not neglected as the state government, which strives to reach out to the rural communities through the respective elected representatives, and also through its own host of programmes.
In February this year, the National Registration Department (NRD) and Penerangan Sarawak jointly conducted an outreach event at Sang Anau, run under rural mobile service programme called ‘Menyemai Kasih Rakyat’ (Mekar).
The core objective was to directly assist the villagers in applying for and updating their personal identification documents.
Mohamad Saufi, who was also involved in that programme, said his team had set up an exhibition booth displaying various books, pamphlets and other printed materials on Sarawak, including photographs of national and state leaders.
“One of the purposes for us to come here under the Mekar programme was to share with the people the truth.
“The advancement of technology has resulted in all sorts of information being spread.
“Our duty is to point out the wrong ones and to tell the people the truth, especially regarding the services provided by the government, at both federal and state levels,” he said when met by thesundaypost then.
During a courtesy call by a delegation led by Kapit Resident Galong Luang on Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail in Kuala Lumpur in February, the former highlighted the plight of the people living in the interior areas of Bukit Mabong.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah, Sarawak and Special Affairs) Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong, who is Hulu Rajang MP, accompanied the Kapit group during the visit.
“We are concerned with the welfare of children and adults who were born Malaysians, but are without proper documents.
“They face all sorts of hardship — restricted travels, and missing out on schooling and careers opportunities,” said Galong in a statement issued in connection with the visit.
“Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong is concerned about this thing. He had invited us to Parliament House and asked us to brief him on the matter, and later with him, we paid courtesy call on the Home Minister, bringing along with us citizenship applications by 634 ‘stateless’ residents from Bukit Mabong District to be handed over to the federal government.
“We hope Putrajaya would speed up the application process for the benefit of the applicants.”
It is informed that the majority of the applications are from the Orang Ulu folks living in remote settlements such as Long Singgut, Long Busang, Long Unau and Sang Anau.
Of waterfalls, forest reserves and offroad adventure
Back on the eco-tourism potential of Sang Anau, Mohamad Saufi says the area is home to many beautiful waterfalls.
“Thera are also lush forest reserves, rich with diverse flora and fauna.
“Sang Anau also has what it takes to become a major extreme sports destination such as climbing, in view of the hilly terrain. Cross-country race can also be done here.
“Remember the logging trail? Like I said earlier, the offroad adventure enthusiasts would love it,” he adds.