Friday, December 27, 2013

Limit of Bintulu town and the Kampung Dagang in 1976

Parking space for my sports car in 1976.
The place where I park the car is the start of the Malay and Melanau kampung areas in Bintulu town.  The kampung where we lived was  called 'Kampung Dagang' and was the first of the many kampungs located close to the Bintulu town.
The building partly seen at top of the picture is the Native rest house.

Picture of same location (as above) taken on 26 December, 2013.
The Kampung Dagang where our house was located was re-developed into a commercial shopping area.  The people from the Kampung  Dagang were re-settled in new areas still closer to town and rewarded with shareholdings in the new commercial shophouses.  The Main Bazaar road is seen at right of the picture.

Pedestrian foothpath in Bintulu town-1980's

Keppel Road in 1980's
Note the wooden shophouses at the right of the picture and the two-way traffic flow.

Keppel Road taken on 26 Dec'13
The pedestrain footpath stays but re-tiled.
New shophouses are made of reinforced concrete floors, column and beams and wall of brickworks.

Bintulu town squatters area in early 80's

View of Bintulu town from the Kemena River bank towards the Chinese temple (Tua Pek Kong), 1987
 There was a big squatters settlement in the midst of Bintulu town in the early 80's.  In 1987 a major squatters demolishment was done to cleanup the town of illegal buildings and slums.  The above picture shows some of the wooden structures built by the squatters that were in the process of being demolished by the government authorities.  The public space taken by the slums were later turned into an esplanade, car parking lots and new market buildings.
View from  Bintulu Esplanade (tiled area) towards the Chinese temple area and Main Bazaar Road - 25 December,2013.
Many festivals, public gatherings, fun fairs, shows and Ramadan markets are now held at the esplanade area.  The wooden shophouses in the 80's are replaced by permanent concrete shophouses.  The Main Bazaar road now becomes a four-lane one way street.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bintulu Golf Course - 2nd Nine (Hole 18)

Hole 18 - showing part of the fairway closer to the beach (February 1987)
The turves are of Axonopus compressus grass and the trees and bushes at the left of the picture is the OB or rough area.
Picture is taken in Febrauary 1987 when all turfing works were already well-grown, but the course still not opened for public.

Date taken 26 December, 2013.
Note the developments at the beach area nearby the fairway.  A coastal scenic road runs along the golf course boundary by the seaside.  This road is an alternative route  from Bintulu town to Kidurong township.
There is land reclamation works in the sea beyond the road started a few years ago and still ongoing.
One of the strong points of the Bintulu Golf Course especially its 2nd Nine is its prime location by the seaside. The Hole 18 fairway was cleared of its jungles in 1986.  The green was turfed with Tiff dwarf grass in late 1986 and the fairway was planted with 'cow grass' or Axonopus compressus.  In February 1987 all turfing works to the Hole 18 green and fairway were completed and thereafter regularly maintained.  In early 1988 the BGC was almost ready to be used fully with all 9 holes (Hole 10 - 18)  well maintained for play.  Since its construction in 1986 till today, the Bintulu Golf Course remains  the only golf course in Bintulu town.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Main Bazaar Road in 1975

Main Bazaar Road in 1975
Note the large green space between the two-way street.  Seen are the students of BGSS (Bintulu Government Secondary School) during the Prophet Mohammad's Birthday parade around the town.
The wooden shophouses are made of belian posts, beams and roofing of belian shingles.
Overhead electric posts are gradually replaced with underground cabling.

Main Bazaar Road today, 23 December, 2013.
The road is now turned into a 3-lane one-way street.
Permanent reinforced  concrete four storey buildings replaced old wooden shophouses and ample car parking spaces are provided on the roadsides.  Parking are now charged at hourly rate of 50 sen per hour.
Just years prior to the first boom, there were very few cars in town.  Students who studied at BGSS (Bintulu  Government Secondary School) would either take the bus or ride bicycles to school.  Many Malay and Melanau kampungs dotted the areas immediately around the town.  It was customary for the  Muslim students to celebrate the Prophet Mohammad's Birthday by parading around town (as seen in the top pix). Today the Main Bazaar Road is the main thoroughfare around town.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tanjung Batu Scenic Road in the late 1980's

The Tanjung Batu Scenic Road - under construction in the late 80's
 One of the major impacts of the first economic boom (1979 - 1983) was the growth of population in the Bintulu town and the new satellite township of Kidurong.  With increased number of temporary and permanent workforce to the town the need for recreational activities grew.  One of the projects undertaken by the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) was the construction of beach facilities and a bird's park which was later named Wildlife Park or Taman Hidupan Liar in Malay.  Upon adopting  the masterplan for the development of the Tanjung Batu recreational reserve area in 1985, works on providing improved roads infrastructure to the beach and park areas started in the late 1980's in earnest.  The above picture shows the construction of the Tg. Batu Scenic Road, showing the section going down towards the Aurora Beach Hotel.
Tanjung Batu Scenic Road as seen today....20 December, 2013.
Today the road is a one-lane dual carriageway with a small lane for bicycles and motorcycles incorporated.  The building on the right is Bintulu's first high-rise beach condominium project.  With proper facilities and amenities provided at Tg. Batu recreational reserve area, tourism activities picked up with visitors both domestic and foreign attracted to the beautiful scenery, breeze and many recreational activites at the beach like swimming, picnics,jogging, family gathering or outing, beach games,photography and sunset viewing. Entrance to the beach is free. Visitors especially school children crowd the Wildlife Park especially at weekends and school holidays to see many zoo animals, birds and botanic collections at the park, which is now popularly called "Taman Tumbina" in Malay.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bintulu town during the first boom (1979 -83)

 Bintulu was a sleepy fishing village and small town when  I grew up there in my teenage years. It was known mainly for its jungle products (rattan, damar etc.), sago, timber logs and sawn mangrove timber species (ramin), and the ever popular 'belacan' or shrimp paste.  The main town centre was located on the right bank of the Kemena river  as it reaches the South China Sea.  It enjoyed fresh sea breezes and wonderful views of the sunset. It has an airfield built in 1938 and was optimally used in the 60's right on till the 90's  before it was abandoned for a new airport in 2003.  The Malay and Melanau kampungs that surrounded the town area have tall coconut and betel nut trees over-topping the villages.  All these makes Bintulu a quaint, quiet and rustic place of the pre- boom years.
Bintulu town of the 50's -60's
Picture credit : Ho Ah Choon,Sarawak in Pictures - 1940's - 70's, Sarawak Press Bhd, Kuching.

Bintulu town centre - shows much development around the town area during the first boom years (1979 -1983)
Note the newly constructed commercial buildings mushrooming .
The hospital is seen at the bottom right of the picture.  In the 1980's the airport served well the growing needs of travel to and out of Bintulu expected of a booming town.
Picture credit : Peter Chay, Malaysia - Wonders and Contrasts, Foto Technik Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur, 1986.

The sleepy image of Bintulu town gradually gave way to a bustling town with the discovery of natural gas and the development of the Bintulu deep water port at Kidurong, some 20 km away north from the town.  The town was slowly being provided with better urban facilities and amenities through the re-development of many of the readily available state land around town. For example the location of the BDA-Shahida commercial area (shown at the middle of the picture above) was previously the government offices and quarters area and only public football field site.  It is worthwhile to note too that due to the pressing needs of urban space, many kampungs located closer to the town were removed to make way for shophouses e.g Kampung Dagang later became Kampung Dagang Commercial Centre (shown as newly constructed commercial shophouses at top of the picture, fronting the river)

Old Bintulu airport building in 1955

Old Bintulu airport building as seen in 1955
Picture credit: Ho Ah Choon, Sarawak in Pictures - 1940's -70's, Sarawak Press Bhd, Kuching.
 The airport buildings were made of timber and even the row of private individual houses fronting the airport (at the background of the picture) were also made of timber structures and roofing of "belian" shingles.  The picture shows passengers alighting from the aircraft and going to the arrival/departure building at right of the picture.
The site of the old Bintulu airport building taken on 13.12.13.
Note the  low rise nature and construction of shophouses in concrete and roofing of metallic sheets.
Bintulu is one the most interesting places to visit in the early days of its development because of the ease of arriving and departing Bintulu town.  The airport was located right in the midst of town.  According to records, the Bintulu airport was built in 1938 but construction was halted when the Japanese invaded Bintulu in 1941.  After the war was over, construction was renewed and completed in August 1955.  The first civil aircraft to land at the Bintulu airport on the morning of 26th August 1955 was "Rapide" - a twin rotor aircraft with wings made of canvas.  Later a Twin Pioneer - 16 seater plane was in operation to replace the "Rapide".  Other types of planes used in succeeding years were the Fokker Friendship and Fokker 50.  With the construction of a new airport  and its use, the old airport was abandoned and the site cleared and used for miscellaneous functions like fun fair, kite flying, and free car parking spaces.
 The old airport was officially closed on 29 March, 2003 and flights in and out of Bintulu were handled by a new airport built 23 kilometers away from the town centre, towards the south of Bintulu town.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bintulu town centre during third economic boom (2003 -2008)

 The third boom years have consolidated Bintulu's position as the industrial showpiece of Sarawak.  The industrial developments were mainly focused at Tanjung Kidurong industrial zone but the multiplier effects have broadened into many aspects of the town's physical and infrastructural facilities and amenities especially those directly or indirectly supporting the major developments at Kidurong and the town's increasing population growth.
Aerial view of Bintulu town centre in mid 70's - prior to the first economic boom (1979 - 1983)

Bintulu town centre, view looking north , 2003.
The picture above shows the Bintulu airport that was situated in the midst of Bintulu town.
The airport was officially closed on 29 March, 2003 and flights in and out Bintulu were handled by a new airport built 23 kilometers away from the town centre, towards the south of Bintulu town.
(Picture credits : "Petronas LNG Complex" - brochure issued during official opening of Petronas LNG Complex at Kidurong on 8th May, 2003)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Old Council Negri monument in 1967

The small monument  as shown in the middle of the picture above was built in 1967 to commemorate the centenary of the first Council Negri session at Bintulu on  8th September 1867.  On this same location was built the new Clock Tower monument to replace the old one.  The plaque which is attached to the small monument above (center of picture) is now placed below the new Clock Tower.
Note the building behind the monument which was used as a government store in the 60's.

"Tugu Council Negri" or Council Negri monument in the form of a Clock Tower standing on the same location of the old monument.
Today the clock tower is part of a commercial re-development project called the BDA-Shahida Shopping area.

 On the 8th of September 1867, Bintulu was chosen by Charles Brooke , the Tuan Muda of Sarawak to be the first place to hold the Sarawak General Council session. The Sarawak General Council standing orders were, "to deliberate on any matter of great importance to the population in general in the countries under Sarawak rule, or should any difficulty arise among the different people about laws and customs, giving rise to hindrances and disputes, the meeting of the members and majority of their bodies.." (T. Harrison, Council Negri Centenary, BLB, Kuching, 1967).
The session was composed of the Tuan Muda, five Europeans and sixteen Malay aristocrats or the abang of Kuching.  In later years the term Council Negri was used to replace Sarawak General Council.
The plaque of the old monument  is located below the new Council Negri monument ( Clock Tower)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Old Bintulu food market and 'Tua Pek Kong' in 1972

Bintulu old food market (middle of picture) and 'Tua Pek Kong' (small building at top let of the picture)
Date of picture : 1972
Note the timber structure of all the shophouses and market buildings with roofing of belian shingles.
The river in the background is the Kemena river, flowing out to sea towards the right of the picture.

Picture shows the above same location taken on 27 September,2013.
There is a considerably big plot of land somewhere in the middle of Bintulu town which housed two structures in 1972.  At the top picture is shown the old food market and the 'Tua Pek Kong' - which is a small shrine housing a Chinese deity.  Today the plot of land has retained the 'Tua Pek Kong' which has been re-built in stages over the years .  In the picture above it is partly shown as the green tiled roofing structure on the former shrine site.  The old food market area has been turned into a small town garden.  Today all shophouses are of concrete structures and more permanent buildings are built around the town like the Main Market ( 'Pasar Utama' ) partly seen as a cone -shaped blue roofing structure above.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Map of Bintulu in the 1960's compared with 1980's

Map of Sarawak showing the 4 administrative divisions
Bintulu is in the Fourth Division of Sarawak
Source : Vernon Mullen (1967) The Story of Sarawak, Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur.
 In the 1960's Bintulu was just a remote district in the Fourth Division which was having its administrative headquarters at Miri.  Administratively it was under the control of Miri for much of the time it was under the colonial days or pre -1963 era.  The above map shows its location in a massive division and thus little could be done to develop it as resources were mainly directed at developing the headquarters of the 4th Division..i.e. Miri.  Bintulu was then in the backwaters of development.
Map of Bintulu District Area in 1981 showing the full area covered under the responsibility of BDA (Bintulu Development Authority)
The same boundary was used to demarcate the area of the Bintulu Division when Bintulu became a new division on 1st January, 1987.

However, Bintulu's fortunes changed in the late 1970's with the formation of Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) which spearheaded the development of the Bintulu region with its vast reserves of natural gas offshore.  1979 marked the beginning of the first boom in Bintulu.  With effect from 1st January 1981 the BDA designated area was extended to cover the whole of the Bintulu District Area, some 4,574 sq. miles of land mass.  In 1981, Bintulu had an estimated population of 58,000.  To enable Bintulu to move forward faster it was made into a Division on the 1st of January, 1987.