Monday, February 23, 2015

Masjid Assyakiriin in 1987 - Bintulu's new divisional mosque

View of Minaret under construction, circa 1987
View of Minaret, completed with landscaping done (circa July 1988)

View of Minaret today, taken on 17 February, 2015.
Note the changes in the background.  On the far let is the new hotel called "Promenade Hotel" opened in 2014.

Masjid Assyakiriin as seen in 1988.  View from minaret towards the main mosque building complex.
Befitting its status as a new administrative division on 1 January 1987, a new divisional mosque was deemed necessary to meet the growing Muslim population in Bintulu due to the first economic boom (1979 -1983).  The mosque is located about 6 kilometers from the old Bintulu town center.  Planning for the mosque started in 1985 but actual construction works only started in 1987 i.e. after the laying of foundation stone on 24 March,1987. The above picture shows the mosque viewed from the minaret.  What is interesting in this new planning is the location of the minaret.  In most mosque throughout Malaysia the minaret is normally part of the building. Here the minaret is separated from the main building and represented a new design planning concept in Malaysia.  The many arches are inspired by the mosque in Cordoba, Spain.  The blue dome is in the form of a starfruit cut in half.  The mosque could accommodate 2000 people and is equipped with library, indoor gardens, fountains and function rooms.  The mosque compound is fully landscaped.  On the 8th of July, 1988 the mosque was officially opened at a cost of RM 6.5 million.

Visitors and VIP's touring the mosque during its opening on the 8th of July,1988.
Note the orchid tree at right of the picture.

Indoor garden landscaping, 1988.
Note:  I was fortunate enough to be involved with the landscaping of the mosque from day one when I was the officer in-charge of the landscaping of Bintulu town in the BDA or Bintulu Development Authority during the 80's till early 1990's.   The whole planting works and maintenance were undertaken by staff from BDA but the supply of planting materials were sourced from private nurseries. The collection of orchids for the 'orchid tree' was obtained from Orchidwoods, Kuching.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

From a lighthouse lookout to an LNG loading terminal

Tanjung Kidurong Lighthouse with bungalow for its care-takers.
Note the  design of the lighthouse as a skeletal tower.
This view is typical of the place during the 1960's - early 1970's.

An LNG (liquified natural gas )loading terminal built by the Bintulu Port Authority.  In the far background is the loading jetty for LPG ships.
Photo credits : Sarawak Tribune, 9 May,2003., Special Supplement on 'Opening of Petronas LNG Tiga'.

View of the lighthouse from a postcard of the 1960's.

Another view of the LNG loading terminal. In the background is the Bintulu Port area.
Photo credits : Petronas Brochure (2003), Petronas LNG Complex.
The Tanjung Kidurong  point refers to a location on the Sarawak coastline that is north of the Bintulu town.  More specifically in its vicinity are to be found today the Bintulu Port's LNG exporting terminal.  Throughout the 1960's till early 1970's the area was only accessible by sea. Historically, the Tanjung Kidurong point area belonged to the Sultan of Brunei but in 1861 it was bought from the Sultan at a cost of 6000 dollars by James Brooke, who later became the Rajah of Sarawak.  During the piracy days Tanjung Kidurong was  regularly visited by the pirates.  It was left to the British starting with James Brooke to end piracy along Sarawak's coast in order to advance the colonial trading and commercial interests.  It was a well-known fact that the court of the  Sultan of Brunei derived  considerable if not major part of its income from proceeds of the piratical activities of the Sultans's subjects.  However, in the piracy world of the 19th century, it was the Illanuns and Balinini who were the most feared pirates and they originated from the Sulu and Mindanao islands.  On the 12th of August,1869 the last of the Illanun pirates were defeated off the Tanjung Kidurong coast by the people of Bintulu without waiting for help from the Rajah Brooke.  Since the defeat of the Illanuns by the Bintulu people there were no further accounts of them daring to raid the Sarawak coastline.   In 1872, a lighthouse was established at the Kidurong point as recorded in the annals of the Sarawak Almanac.  Lighthouses are very important for safe navigation of the 750 km long Sarawak coastline that faces directly the South China Sea.  With the discovery of natural gas off the coast of Tanjung Kidurong in 1968 at the Central Luconia gas fields some 125 -250 km offshore and its processing onshore in 1983, an exporting terminal was required to ship the LNG overseas.  Thus the Bintulu Port built an LNG loading and exporting terminal within the immediate vicinity of the old lighthouse or Tanjung Kidurong point. The first or maiden LNG cargo left the Bintulu Port on 7 February,1983 and arrived at the Sodeguara terminal in Japan on 7 February,1983.
A group of visitors having a group photo taken while on a visit to the lighthouse.  They are seen with two lighthouse care-takers in front of the Tanjung Kidurong bungalow.
Photo credits : Ho Ah Choon, Sarawak in Pictures 1940's -1970's.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bintulu's first public housing undertaken by BDA using IBS system.

The first low- cost housing project in Bintulu using the industrialised building system (IBS) called Emy Prefab system.
The project was jointly funded by a Federal government loan and BDA internal funds for the benefit of people in Bintulu with a total household income of RM 750 per month and below.  The ceiling price of the houses (especially the double-storey units)  was capped at RM 35,000 per unit  and to be settled  over a 23 years repayment period at 4% interest by successful applicants.
Colour photo taken on 15 May,1984 shows the housing site next to the Kidurong highway.

View of RPR Kidurong (Phase 1) taken on 2 February,2015
Note: Houses with olive green roofing are Single-storey and red roofing are Double-storey houses.
View of RPR Kidurong (Rancangan Perumahan Rakyat) -  a public housing project undertaken by BDA, starting in 1983 with Phase One, consisting of 508 units with a mix of double-storey and single-storey terrace housing.
Colour photo shows construction progress of construction dated 15 May,1984.

Single -storey houses with olive green roofing
Taken : 2 February,2015
 During the first economic boom (1979 -1983) thousands of people from all over Sarawak sought employment in booming Bintulu.  One of the migrant workers requirements was housing especially those who decided to settle for good in Bintulu.  The Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) was at the fore-front of implementing change in Bintulu.  One of its early project was a low-cost housing  situated at the new satellite township of Kidurong.  The site was carefully chosen in order to enable the owners of the houses to commute easily to their places of work especially at the new Light and Heavy Kidurong Industrial estates around the Bintulu Port vicinity.   The project was also to help solve the problem of illegal squatters at Bintulu town who needed alternative housing once they were to be removed from the slum areas in the center of Bintulu town.  In late 1981 BDA's request for Federal funding was approved by the Federal Minisstry of Housing with the initial allocation of 15 million Malaysian Ringgit loan to be repaid over 25 years with a grace period of 2 years and 23 years repayment annuity, at o% interest.  The loan enabled BDA to build 508 units of low-cost houses for the low income group of people from various ethnic groups like the Chinese, Malay and Melanau, Ibans and other native groups.  The ceiling price of the most expensive units i.e. the Double-storey houses was pegged at RM 35,00 per unit.  The loan was disbursed gradually starting in 1982.  On 13 December 1983, The Chief Minister of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Taib Mahmud laid the foundation stone for the project, targeted to be completed in 1985. Since the successful implementation of this Phase One project, BDA continued to undertake more low-cost housing projects in the same locality.  This RPR Housing project finally was enlarged to four phases, done over a time span of more than three decades.  The RPR Kidurong is unique in that it is the first public housing project served with a central sewerage system in Sarawak.
Double-storey houses with red roofing, RPR Kidurong (Phase 1) - which was completed in 1985.
Note: Over time the owners undertook extensions to the original building especially those with corner lots.
The strength, durability and quality of using EMY Prefab system is shown in the picture.  Despite using the prefah or industrialised building system, the houses remain firm and has a market value today(2015) at around RM 100,000 for a double-storey unit.
Photo taken by digital camera on 2 February,2015.