Jamilah wonders when grand plans to transform Lundu, Sematan will happen

Jamilah (third from left) flipping through the newspapers at the lobby of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex. Also seen are (from left) Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang and Batu Kawah assemblyman Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 8: Tanjung Datu assemblywoman Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu is curious what had happened to those proposed projects put forth in a master plan to develop Lundu and Sematan. They have been commissioned by the state government through the Sarawak Planning Unit (SPU) in 2015.

She expressed concern that despite the study and the report having been done, nothing was happening on the ground.

“One of the four recommended strategic thrusts is to use tourism to lead local economic development in Lundu and Sematan. I totally agree and accept without hesitation that tourism development is the way forward for Lundu and Sematan. And I have been saying this since I first spoke in this august House two years ago,” she said when debating the Supply (2019) Bill 2018 today.

She believed that some of the projects announced and approved by the government would contribute to tourism development in Lundu and Sematan, but one thing is missing — their implementation.

The objectives of the development plan, she said, were to increase economic activities, raising the standard of living of the local communities and to achieve sustainable development.

“I would very much like to see that tourism development in Lundu and Sematan is a well-planned industry as opposed to a haphazardly concocted tourist area. I want Lundu and Sematan to become a premier eco-tourism destination in the region and maybe not too far-fetched, in the world,” she said.

With the completion of the highway from Sematan to Telok Melano, she continued, it would be a worthwhile undertaking to chart and build the necessary landmark to signify the westernmost tip of Borneo, similar to the landmark in Cape Agulhas, as the southernmost tip of Africa, and Cape Horn as the southernmost tip of South America.

“Closer to home, we have Tanjung Simpang Mengayau in Kudat, Sabah, as the northernmost tip of Borneo. We can, in addition to the lighthouse in Tanjong Datu, build a special landmark that signifies ‘Where Borneo Begins’. I believe there is already a special postcode 94111 assigned to the lighthouse,” she added.

Jamilah emphasised that this would definitely bring in the tourists both from near and far as Tanjung Datu itself is rich in history, especially in the early days of maritime exploration by the Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and the English.

She also hoped the government would approve both land and allocation for the setting up of the Selako Cultural Centre in Sematan, preferably in Pueh.

“The centre can undertake the promotion and the preservation of the language, culture and traditions as well as document the rich history of the Selakos,” she said.

Lundu and Sematan, she elaborated, is home to about 9,000 Selako or Selakau, a sub-ethnic of the Bidayuh community, with most settlements in Pueh, Sebat and Siru numbering about 2,000.

“I would like to see that the unique cultures and traditions of the Selako people are fully made known. Some of us may not know the famous ‘Wek Jongan’ song and dance, the unique Pueh longhouse on the foot of the scenic Gunung Pueh, and of course the unique food of the Selako people,” she added.

This initiative, she believed, would definitely benefit not only the Selakos but also all Sarawakians and Malaysians, in general. — DayakDaily