By D’Drift Team
BINTULU, July 5: With robust economic development in oil and gas as well as major industries establishing themselves in Samalaju here, Bintulu is now poised to attain city status soon.
Currently, Bintulu is estimated to have a population of at least 300,000 people. And coupled with foreign workers in both the oil palm plantation and manufacturing sectors, Bintulu’s population could easily reach 500,000 people.
However, Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing stressed that Bintulu should not rush into attaining the city status and instead allow it to progress steadily and grow ‘naturally’ not only in terms of population but also in terms of its economic strengths to ensure its sustainability.
“As such, at this most challenging time as the state and the world are impacted by Covid-19, we must seriously look into how to find ways to help people navigate through.
“We need to set a direction on how to get there and show the people the direction of where Bintulu is heading towards which will enable the people to have a more comfortable living. This is most important,” he told the D’Drift Team when met in Bintulu on Friday (July 4).
Nevertheless, Tiong pointed out that the state government is working hard on upgrading and beautifying the town.
“We try to get all the Bintulu people to work together as well. We should make steady progress and when the economy is better, we can then accelerate it (to elevate into city status).
“I don’t think it is a good time to push it too fast due to the present economic situation as everything could be inflated including the cost of living. People will not have enough time to prepare for it,” he said.
Among the plans in the pipeline for Bintulu include promoting the eco-tourism sector to boost the local tourism industry; proposing a resettlement scheme for better living and developing Sg Sebiew area.
“There is a plan to relocate a few villages like Kampung Dato, Kampung Sinong and Kampung Kemuning sited along the Kemena Plaza area to a new proposed resettlement scheme in Kampung Jepak.
“We have identified an area. The resettlement scheme will have proper infrastructure, land lots and so on to give the resettlers a more orderly and hygienic living environment,” he explained.
Tiong, who is the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to the Republic of China, also noted that there will be opportunities to turn the economy around.
“We also need to work hand-in-hand with the locals and (mainland) Chinese investors, and hopefully we can boost the economy and in turn the overall economic growth or else it will only be just talks on the table.
“We are also working along to get direct flights from China to Sarawak via Kuching, Bintulu or elsewhere in order to boost the local tourism sector.
“Covid-19 posed a major challenge for not only Sarawak but Malaysia and the whole world. So, we will go further when the situation improves in due time,” he added.
With such a vision in mind, Bintulu has a bright future to attain a city status sooner than expected.–DayakDaily