Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bintulu town squatters area - 1984

Date taken : circa 1983 -84 ( Colour photo )
In 1984 there was one major squatters demolition and resettlement project undertaken by the BDA with the help of the various government departments in Bintulu town area. In 1984 the the whole squatters area was cleaned up. The above picture depicts the seriousness of the squatters problems in Bintulu as even within the center of the Bintulu town the squatters had built their colony. It was evident that the rapid migration of temporary construction workers among the local Sarawakians looking for jobs in Bintulu were not met with sufficient affordable housing for many jobless Sarawakians. Thus they had no choice but to build up camp amidst the burgeoning squatters colony. Somewhere towards the upper right of the picture is seen the pitched roof of the old fish market ( behind the big umbrella). The Main Bazaar road during those time was a two-way street. The use of mechanised sweeper was a novelty among the local authorities in Sarawak. Bintulu was one of those local authorities that pride in having them to clean the streets daily.

Date taken : 29 Dec'10 ( Digital - Sony Cyber-shot)
In place of the old fish market rises a twin main market building called " Pasar Utama" in Malay. The architecture of the market was inspired from the local Melanau sun-hat called the "Terendak". The Main Bazaar road now functions as a four-lane one way street with ample car parking spaces on both sides. Towards the left of the picture is partly seen a large open space for public activities. With the re-development of the squatters area, Bintulu had shed its image as a dirty cowboy town of the 80's.

Monday, December 27, 2010

M O to Roundabout 1 - early 1980's

In the early 1980's the Public Works Department initiated a dual-carriageway road to connect Bintulu town to its newly opened sub-urban towns ( satellite towns ) especially the Kidurong township and the heavy industrialised zone of Kidurong, some 24 kilometers away from the Bintulu town . The funds were available through Federal funding. The start of the Federal road from Bintulu town was popularly called M O ( Mile zero). This view above shows the road from M O leading out of town towards the first roundabout which is today turned into a traffic lights junction. On the left of the picture is shown white railings that are placed on both sides of the wooden bridge that lead to the small Bintulu hospital then. In the picture a car takes a turn at the road junction to enter the Bintulu hospital area. On the right, the BDA-Shahida commercial center is under construction. In the early years of 1980's the local authority have just started to implement roadside planting. The above shows a brave attempt despite the lack of planting materials. But what was evident was the spirit of cooperation and togetherness between government departments there. The local authority proceeded to undertake the roadside tree planting using its own funds and this also covered its maintenance. The spirit was to make Bintulu a welcoming and beautiful town and it did not matter whether the PWD got the funds or not. The local authority was willing to chip in.

... approximately 20 years later ( date taken 25 Nov'10)
Today , roadside trees adorn the dual-carriageway to provide much needed shade and beautification to the town roads. On the left are Rain trees (Samanea saman ) and on the right are the Cabbage trees or sometimes called the Brown heart (Andira inermis ) . The narrow central median is planted with bright yellow Dwarf Pandanus ( Pandanus pygmaeus) as cover plants and sculptured shrubs of the Eugenia oleina interspersed with bright red foliage of the Red Ti ( Coryline terminalis ). The central median planting is topped with the Majestic Palm ( Archontophoenix alexandrae). The white railings are still there but the former hospital has been moved out of town to Nyabau Road, a distance of about 10 kilometers from Bintulu town. Soon this road will be joined by another road ( under construction) from St.Anthony's School to meet at Somerville Road thus providing another short-cut to town. The above picture shows clearly how Bintulu stands apart from other towns in Sarawak because of its early emphasis on town beautification programmes especially roadside landscaping.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sky Theatre - 1950's

Date taken : circa late 1950's ( B&W photo)
As a young kid and adult growing in Bintulu I have seen the rise and the fall of the cinema entertainment business here especially those buildings purpose-built to project celluloid films on huge theatre white screens. One such institution was the Sky Theatre of which the building is seen on the right of the picture above. The space between the theatre and the wooden shophouses have been taken up by the Hoover Hotel as shown below. The wooden shophouses are gone now. The main road that is seen above is the Keppel Road and is not yet well-paved. Cars are very few indeed and there is ample green space in between the opposite row of wooden shophouses. Life seemed to remain standstill except of course the dramatic experiences shown in the theatre. I have my share of attending films ( including cheap Sunday matinees), acrobatic shows, magic shows, concerts and singing competitions organised in the theatre. The Sky Theatre was owned by a local businessman named Yek Min Ek and was opened for business in the 1950's. The theatre survived for 40 years but with the advent of television in the 1970's and video tapes in the 1980's, the cinema business suffered badly and the theatre met its natural death in the 1990's.

Date taken : 2 Dec'10 ( Digital - Sony cyber-shot)
The original site of the Sky Theatre now houses the 'City Point' building which is owned by the Hock Lee group a company started by Yek Min Ek. In the building there are cineplexes as a sign of continuity in the cinema business and still having popular audience. The wooden shophouses are replaced by permanent ones. The Keppel road now enjoys trappings of modernism like bituminous or tar-sealed road. To encourage smooth traffic flow the local authority decided to make the Kepppel Road a one-way four-lane street complete with traffic lights, pedestrain crossing, tiled street pavements, underground cables for the lamp posts and landscaping.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bintulu roads ( Part 2)

Date taken : circa early 1980's ( colour photo)
Almost every single visitor in Bintulu in the 1980's right on till the early 2000 will notice this dual carriage highway. The incoming car on the right shows the road going north to the newly-opened up areas of Tanjung Kidurong which was the centre of physical and economic activities in early 1980's with the construction of three massive projects viz the Bintulu Port , the Malaysia Liquefied Natural Gas Plant (MLNG) and the ASEAN Bintulu Fertiliser Plant (ABF). These three major economic generator projects created the first boom in Bintulu. The road was like the above through three booms. But beginning last year the road was extensively re-designed from the roundabout to the junction near the Bintulu Divisional Mosque called Masjid Assyakirrin. The popular Angsana trees were planted on both sides of the highway from stumps and still looked lower than the electrical posts.

Date taken : 12 Dec'2010 ( Digital - Sony Cyber-shot)

Today, at the far end of the picture the former roundabout has become a traffic light junction. The dual- carriageway from the traffic junction to the Mosque junction has been altered to become a three-lane carriage way and the Mosque junction fitted with traffic lights thus making the central median narrower. Obviously the number of cars have more than quadrupled over the years. The trees have also over-topped the electrical posts. Today Bintulu is in the fourth boom era and the momentum that has developed over three decades of growth has made it able to ride the fourth boom with greater preparedness and gear itself to become an industrialised city by 2020. However, by all practical purposes it is now already an industrialised town but not given any city status just yet.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bintulu town - early 1970's

Date taken : circa early 1970's ( B&W photo)
The picture above shows Keppel Road when bicycles were king of the road. In the early 1970's cars were very rarely seen around town. The Keppel Road then was a two - way street with ample green space in between. The row of concrete buildings at the far right background was one of the few permanent- type buildings seen in the 1970's. Two institutions important at that time that were housed in the block were the Standard Chartered bank and the Capitol Hotel. The Capitol Hotel occupies the corner lot of the block and still exists today but re-named as Capitol Inn. Note the wooden shophouses on both sides of the road built primarily of 'belian' posts and roofing of 'belian' shingles. The first floor of the shophouses were normally made into residences by the shop owners. The ground floor of the shophouses however were of concrete flooring. The electrical posts in the center of the road were also of 'belian' timber - the hardest wood in Sarawak.

Date taken : 2 Dec'10 ( Digital - Sony Cyber-shot)
Today, Keppel Road is a one-way 3-lane road with ample parking spaces infront of the shophouses but charges are imposed by the local authority at the rate of 20 'sen' ( cents) per first 30 minutes and gradually increases thereafter. The two-storey wooden shophouses when re-built were increased to four storeys high. The tallest building at the far right was built over a previously empty open space and now houses the 'Kintown Inn'.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bintulu town -1975

Date taken : 1975 ( Colour Photo)
View of Bintulu town shophouses along Main Bazaar road
In 1975 the shophouses that lined the Main Bazaar Road were of wooden structures with concrete floors. Almost all of the shopowners stay on the first floor. The posts of the buildings were of 'belian' timber just like the electrical posts across the street. The roofing material was of 'belian' shingles. Cars were few and bicycles were king of the road. Most villagers from the Malay kampungs closeby normally walk to town. The wooden belian bridge on the right of the picture connects the village road called ' Jalan Masjid' to the Main Bazaar road. The wooden building partly seen to the left was the 'Native Rest House' to accomodate rural natives who need to stay in town for the night while visiting the hospitals, government offices, schools, court cases, shopping for provisions, trading jungle produce products etc.,. In 1975 the Main Bazaar road was a two-way street with open space in between. In the above picture I'm with my nephew striking a pose next to my newly bought Yamaha motorcycle in front of our house.

Date taken : 29 November'10

Today the Main Bazzar Road and the Jalan Masjid are a one-way tar-sealed four-lane roads . Much have changed but the orientation and sub-division of the shophouses have not.

Monday, November 29, 2010

OKMS School - 1970's

Date taken : May 1976
The Orang Kaya Mohammad School (OKMS) in Bintulu is the first school run on a Malay medium of instruction in Bintulu. The above building showed how the school appeared from the the late 1950's to the 1970's era. I had the opportunity to study in this school for my first year primary school education in 1958. I recall at that time the classroom floor was concrete, the walls were wooden and the roofing was of 'belian' shingles. However I did not complete my primary schooling in OKMS and instead continued my second year schooling up till primary six (1959 -1963) at St. Anthony School which was an English medium primary school.
The name of the school derived from a well-known local Bintulu personality during the times of the Brunei Sultanate by the name of Mohammad bin Sungan. As representative of the Brunei rule in Bintulu he was able to ensure peace and smooth running of governance in Bintulu. As an honour of his abilities to lead the local peoples of Bintulu he was given the title " Orang Kaya Pemancha Mohammad" by the Brunei Sultanate.

Date taken : 29 Nov'10
( Digital by Sony cyber-shot)

A concrete double -storey building has taken up space from the original wooden structure site. This school remains the only school situated within the Bintulu town commercial area. From what was once a school serving the local Malay and Melanau community who lived in villages around the school area, today this school accomodates students from various ethnic groups especially the Ibans who have over the years taken up employment in the shophouses and other commercial outfits owned by the Chinese business community located in the Bintulu town area.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Roundabout 2 traffic island planting - 1980's

Date taken : 13 May 1984 ( Colour photo )
The above is a long shot view of the new dual carriageway from Roundabout 2 to Roundabout 1. The fact that there was going to be four roundabouts to be built in Bintulu in the 1980's sent signals that the town was developing. This was one of my first project on the landscaping of Bintulu roads. What is seen is a rockery concept to the traffic island. At the central median and road shoulders, grassing works using cow grass ( Axonopus compressus) are being undertaken. The electrical posts with underground cabling are about to be erected. On both sides of the road and along the central median are planted the Angsana trees ( Pterocarpus indicus) which were planted from stumps.

Date taken : 25 November'10 ( Digital image)
Today a drive along this carriageway will give the impression of entering a long tunnel of greenery. The presence of the huge trees are a welcome respite in the tropical heat as you can feel a sudden drop of 2-3 degrees in temperature while driving through the 'tunnel-like' greenery. Note: The use of Angsana trees for roadsides was so prevalent in Bintulu then that today Bintulu has the longest stretch of Angsana planting in Sarawak, an estimated 50 miles of Angsana planting from the Bintulu town to the Kidurong industrial zone.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mile O - early 1980's

Date taken : 13 May'1984 ( Colour photograph)
View of Bintulu town from MO ( Mile O ) i.e. start of the JKR maintained road radiating out of Bintulu town to Kidurong Highway, Higway to Sibu and Highway to Miri. Note the landscaping using low cover plants, the three big buildings on the right belong to government agencies. Of importance to the small town of Bintulu then was the Customs office -cum godown and stockyard area (red roof) . Closest to the foreground on the right is the Forestry Office.

Date taken : 25 November'2010
Of significance in the above picture are the Melanau sunhat-styled roofing structure of the public market buildings built by the BDA ( Bintulu Development Authority). In the Melanau language the sunhat is called " Saong" or " Terendak" in Malay. The one closest to the foreground( in light green colour roofing) is the 'Tamu ' or jungle produce market. The two other buildings in the far background in blue coloured roofing are the 'Pasar Utama' which houses the vegetable and fish and poultry market as well as drinking and eating stalls on their first floors.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jalan Keppel - mid 70's

Jalan Keppel ( Keppel Road) seen on the left.
Date taken : circa 1976

Date taken : 20Nov'10

What was once a tiny two-way street has today become a one- way three-lane town road. The two-storey building on the right was once BDC adminstrative office turned into the BDA Library when Bintulu District Council(BDC) was merged with the BDA ( Bintulu Development Authority) upon the introduction of BDA to administer and develop Bintulu starting the early 1980's. The low building after the ex-BDA library is the Sarawak state information centre which still exists even at this point of blogging. The tall structure after the information centre is the 'Kintown Inn'- a modern touch to the townscape. The open space to the right of the top picture was a community open space that catered for a basketball court and public amenities like swing, see-saw and a resting shed. Today at the same space is allocated a green area with its focal point a public fountain- the first ever for Bintulu and running. Typical of Bintulu shophouses in the 1960's and 1970's they were principally of wooden structures. Today concrete shophouses have replaced the old wooden ones. Note the trend to replace overhead electricity cables with undeground cabling and better tiled street pavements for a modern image town.

Note our fashion during those times. Men wear bell-bottoms, sport long hair and dress smartly as teachers. On the extreme left is yours truly . Others from left to right are Zahiruddin Khan, Angela Chung, Zarina Sauni, Josmani, Wong Kee and Chong Tong Liap. We were all teachers from the Bintulu Government Secondary School (BGSS).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bintulu town riverside squatters operation - 1987

Date taken : 1987
The picture above shows a massive squatters clearing operation undertaken in 1987 . The main road to the right is called the Main Bazaar Road and at that point of time acted as a two-way street. There were many old wooden shophouses along the Main Bazaar road then. The river to the left is the Kemena River going towards the sea in the horizon which is seen at the top of the picture.

Date taken : 19 Nov'10
A row of concrete shophouses has replaced the old wooden ones. The two-way street has given way to a one-way street. The vacant space left after the demolition of squatters resettlement has made way for a fully tiled esplanade ( Bintulu Esplanade) and a main market structure with roof resembling the local Melanau sun hat called 'Terendak'. This main market is now called 'Pasar Utama' which houses a vegetable and fish market at the ground floor and eating and drinking stalls at the first floor.
Date taken : 1987
Earth filling and levelling works done after the squatters settlement was cleared.
Date taken : 19Nov'10

The Chinese temple or Tua Pek Kong as seen today after receiving extensive renovations.
The new concrete shophouses around the temple has provided a facelift to the town making it look more modern.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bintulu roads (Part 1)

Jalan Abang Galau - circa early 1960's.

The same location taken on 19th November'10

The top picture was taken circa early 1960's. I took another picture of the same location yesterday, 19th November,2010. What was once an earth road made for bicycles and trishaws is now a bituminous paved road. To the left of the top picture is a rubber garden . What is amazing in the picture is the staying power of the tall palm trees and the kampung houses in the far background to the right that are still standing to this date. Many of the people in the picture can be named or recognised if you are a Bintuluian. Only three so far have left us. I am the little boy on the extreme right front row. The picture was taken while attending the marriage ceremony of my uncle who worked with the Public Works Department in Bintulu as a 'caterpillar' or bulldozer driver back then.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Initial notes

I started this blog today,18th November 2010 in Bintulu, to augment materials and ideas especially in the form of old photographs, images etc and compare them to the present digital images of same as an indication of changes in the making of Bintulu history.
This blog will supplement the other blogs I created on the Bintulu themes ( my bintulu history, my bintulu clicks, Bintulu perspectives) for the expressed purpose of articulating ideas for my proposed " A History of Bintulu " book project.