Thursday, October 30, 2014

Aurora Link Road

Aurora Link Road in 1987
Note the Poui trees (Tabebuia rosea) trees planted on both sides of the two-lane single carriageway road.
View looking north-east towards the roundabout near present day Masjid Assyakiriin.

The road is widened to become a four lane dual carriage-way road.
Date taken : 29 October, 2014
 There is a link road that connects the Kidurong Highway to Tanjung Batu Road situated besides the Masjid Assyakiriin.  During the First Boom (1979 - 1983) the link road was called Aurora Link Road because the road led to the Aurora Beach Hotel.  The Aurora Beach Hotel played an important role during the First Boom because it was big enough to accommodate the hundreds of expatriates especially Koreans and Americans involved with the construction of the Bintulu Port and the Liquified Natural Gas plant at Tg. Kidurong.  These expatriates required reasonably good accommodation facilities which the old Bintulu town was unable to provide.   The hotel was speedily constructed within a year and was opened in 1979, largely using the  prefab system.  Basically the hotel rooms were made of metal containers or porta cabins.   The Aurora Link Road was constructed in 1977-78 by the JKR to link the hotel (situated at Tanjung Batu Road)  to the Kidurong Highway thus providing a shortcut  to reach the Kidurong Highway in good time.
During the First Boom the Aurora Beach hotel was quite an institution by itself in booming Bintulu. The hotel provided many entertainment outlets like lounges, restaurants, dance halls, night clubs, offices and even banking (Bank Utama), besides the normal rooms.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The face of Bintulu town at first and second boom

Picture shows face of Bintulu town during the First Boom (1979 -1983)
Picture taken circa 1982.
Source : Persatuan Kesusasteraan Sarawak, Our Sarawak, Summer Times Publishing, 1983.

The face of Bintulu town representing the changes after the second economic boom (1998-2000)
Picture shows town status circa 2002, prior to entering the Third Boom (2003-2009)
Photo credit : Jacky J.H. Chan,
After two economic booms, the face of Bintulu town changed dramatically as it began to exhibit the features of a modern town.  The time period to achieve the above physical make-up of the town centre  (approximately from 1980 - 2000)  thus took about 20 years in the making.  The airport runway remained a stumbling block for the town centre development.  It was only during the Fourth Boom (2010 - present) that efforts were started to re-develop the old airport land to a prime property and recreational area.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Old SESCO power station of the 50's - 60's

SESCO administrative building at right and generating station at left.
Picture shows the place in the late 50's - 60's when the power station was located in the midst of the Bintulu town centre.
In the 1963 the diesel powered station produced 390 kilowatts of electricity for the whole of Bintulu town needs.
( Photo credit : Ho Ah Choon, Sarawak in Pictures 1940's - 1970's.)

The former SESCO building site is taken over by other government-related agency while the former power station site currently houses the Department of Information building.
Picture taken on 12 October, 2014.
Electricity in towns throughout Sarawak was previously under the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department since 1923.  Only in 1932 was SESCO (Sarawak Electricity Supply Company) formed to take over the responsibility of generating electricity supply to Sarawak towns using the DC electricity supply system.  Bintulu was provided with electricity in 1939.  Throughout the Japanese occupation period the power station was operated by the Japanese.  The power station suffered much damage due to allied forces bombing when they tried to re-occupy Bintulu.  It was only after 1948 did the Bintulu generating station restored its 12-hour day service.  In the 1950's the station production of electricity power increased in tandem with the growth of the town. The amount it produced in 1951 was only 22 kilowatts, in 1955 some 44 kilowatts and in 1959 it supplied  124 kilowatts of electricity for the town and outlying villages.  In 1963 the SESCO power station as shown above  produced 390 kilowatts of electricity per day for the small Bintulu town's consumption needs.

(Note: The information above were largely sourced from Vernon L. Porritt, British Colonial rule in Sarawak 1946-1963, Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur, 1997)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Borneo Company office and store in 1960's

The Borneo Company office and store, circa 1960's, fronting Keppel Road.
Photo credit : Ho Ah Choon, "Sarawak in Pictures 1940's - 1970's "
 On its wall is a big billboard advertising a brand of cigarette popular during the 60's called 'Lucky Strike'.
The former building site of the Borneo Company, Keppel Road, taken on 12 Oct'14.
A unique company that existed during the Brooke's family administration and control of Sarawak was the Borneo Company Limited.  It was referred to briefly as 'Borneo Company'.  It was founded in London in 1856 and established its operation in Kuching in the same year.  The Company carried out business throughout Sarawak during the Brooke days (1841 - 1941) and during the British colonial period (1946-1963).  The Borneo Company Limited was granted sole public company operating rights in Sarawak in 1856 and had strategic interests in minerals, timber, agriculture, shipping and financing government commercial schemes. In the 1960's, the Company's operation in Bintulu was carried out at a wooden shophouse along the Keppel Road (see top picture) The Borneo Company faced changing fortunes when in 1963 it was re-named as SEBOR Holdings (Sarawak) Sendirian Berhad and partly owned by SEDC Sarawak. However, in 1967 Borneo Company merged with Inchcape Group of UK and run as subsidiary of the group.  In 2007, the Company was taken over by Hong Kong-based company, Integrated Distribution Services (IDS) Group Limited.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Malay kampungs in 1957

Combo picture to show the rustic and peaceful Malay kampungs in 1957 compared to the crammed-up look it is today, devoid of any landscaping or forest environment.  It seemed the people do not learn from history.
Aerial picture of Bintulu town expansion at start of new millenia.

Photo credit : Ho Ah Choon, Sarawak in Pictures, 1940's - 70's.
In 1957 I used to walk from my house which was situated next to the Bintulu town to Kampung  Datok where my grandma lived.  I have fond memories of the walking through a series of small kampungs before reaching Kampung Datok.  The distance was about less than 500 meters.  But for a young kid it was a long walk.  The tiny village road that led to my grandma's house passed through many Malay and Melanau houses that were made of timber and belian roofing shingles.  Over-topping these houses were various types of palm trees and fruit trees.  They constituted a very important aspect of Malay culture and cuisine.  More significantly it was the presence of many birds around the houses feeding on fruiting trees that imprinted in me the love of plants and wildlife at an early age.  The B&W picture above is reminiscent of the forested environment of the Malay kampungs in Bintulu in the 1950's.  In contrast the same Malay kampungs today are devoid of any forest or landscaping environment.  It is a sad story of development.  But I was not to be discouraged by failure.  At the start of the new millenia (sometime in 2003) I began my own project of building a park.  It was my way of living the beautiful greenery  and wildlife-friendly Malay kampung environment I knew as a young kid.  I am pleased that I have the opportunity to re-live those days of discovery, delight and dreams in my own nature park.  I guess I have achieved the dream with the development of the  Kambatik Park in Bintulu.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tua Pek Kong attests to Chinese prosperity through four economic booms

Tua Pek Kong in the 70's
The main building was made of timber. The makeshift structure infront of the Tua Pek Kong ( in the background) was built to temporarily house social and other festivities related to the Chinese community culture and beliefs.
 The Chinese temple or 'Tua Pek Kong' when built was a very tiny timber structure.  In the 1970's its main building and roofing was made of timber.  The Tua Pek Kong is centrally situated at the heart of the old Bintulu town.  It was surrounded by Chinese shophouses.  The Tua Pek Kong is illustrative of the story of the prosperity, mainly economic which the Chinese community benefited from the four economic booms that pulled out  Bintulu from a sleepy town to an industrial city it is today.  With increasing prosperity more funds were available to carry out major re-building and renovations work.  Today the Tua Pek Kong is totally different from the days prior to the economic boom. The shophouses around it also followed suit and took on a modern look and design.  They are all now constructed with permanent building materials, principally brickworks, concrete columns and flooring with roofing tiles or aluminium roofing sheets.
A modern look to the Tua Pek Kong, in the Fourth Economic Boom (2010 - today)
Picture taken 25 Sept'14