Friday, December 4, 2015

King George the VI Memorial Ground

The main public space - King George the VI  Memorial Ground as seen in the 1960's
Source : Bintulu Centenary Celebration,1961(booklet)
Teachers from Bintulu Gov't Secondary
School during Teachers Day 1976
standing next to the Memorial Ground
(partly seen at right of picture)
 In the 1960's Bintulu was a small fishing village and town all rolled in one. In the 60's era the public space in the midst of the town was a great meeting place for the towns folk, visitors from the rural areas as well as those newcomers to the town.  In the 1970's the public space more commonly known as the King George Memorial Ground could accomodate many children's playground equipments, two basketball courts and ample lawn for children to run and play.  The Memorial Ground was used for a variety of public or community functions like concerts,Teacher's Day assembly,  'Toto' or Bingo games, public parades and assemblies. In the new millenia the public space was further improved by BDA with a significant iconic image of a fountain in the shape of the local 'Terendak' or sunhat commonly by the Bintulu Melanaus.  Today the public space continues to serve as a meeting place for locals as well as tourists due to its central location, pleasant surroundings and greenery.
The Memorial Ground was popularly used as public parade and assembly area.
The above picture shows the ground used as National Day celebration assembly and parade.
Source : Bintulu - Dari Kampung Nelayan ke Industripolis (Book published by Sarawak State Government)

BDA Basketball team posing with their winning trophies, 1981.
Photo taken on the basketball court at the Memorial Ground
Vaguely seen in the backgound is the Bintulu Recreation Club building.

The iconic fountain in the shape of the local Melanau 'Terendak' or sunhat.  The public space is centrally located and continues to serve as meeting place and tourist attraction with footpath and concrete benches and ample lawn area and greenery.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wildlife Park of Bintulu in 1989

View of the Wildlife Park ( Taman Hidupan Liar) seen in 1989.
Works on the construction of the Wildlife Park or Taman Hidupan Liar in Malay started in 1989 and the park was officially opened to the general public on the 2nd of August,1991.
Picture shows my family members and their cousin, with our car driven right to the top of the hill where later the wordings  "Taman Hidupan Liar" were planted using cover plants approximately where  the car is parked.
View of the park  taken on 9th of March,2015. 
Today, the park is re-named as "Taman Tumbina".
 It was the first and only park of its kind in Sarawak when it was opened in 1991.  Today, the park is called "Taman Tumbina" but when it was first started and opened it was known as Taman Hidupan Liar or Wildlife Park.  It was one of my pet projects while in the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA).  This project brought me places to Singapore and West Malaysia to see similar projects and learn from them.  In the park (as shown in the layout plan below) there were many botanical as well as zoological attractions.  One of the big attractions was the flamingo pond.  Follow this link to know more in-depth story of my role in bringing the flamingoes to Bintulu  here .  In the top picture, the Bintulu coastline is seen in the background.  It is evident that that were no condominiums or high-rise buildings in Bintulu in the 1980's along its coasts.  The condominiums were a thing of the 1990's in Bintulu. 

" Taman Hidupan Liar " or Wildlife Park as seen in the early 1990's

Monday, April 20, 2015

View of Bintulu coastline in 1999 compared to 2015

View of Bintulu coastline as seen from Taman Tumbina's Bougainvillea garden
The tall building at left is the completed Beach Resort Condominium, the first of its kind for Bintulu.  In the far background is the second condominium built along the Bintulu coastline and almost completed in March 2015, but not yet occupied.
Date taken : 10 March,2015

View of Bintulu coastline in the background, from Taman Tumbina's Bougainvillea garden.
In the middle ground is the first condominium project under construction.
Note: The beautiful lady in the picture is my wife.
Date taken : 18 April, 1999, Colour photo.

 Bintulu is one place in Sarawak where sunset viewing is at its best.  Whether its from the mouth of the Kemena River ( the main Bintulu river) or going northwards to Tanjung Batu by following its coastline, the sunset views are spectacular for most of the year.  An elevated point at Tanjung Batu is the Taman Tumbina, a zoological- botanical park developed by BDA (Bintulu Development Authority) starting in 1989 and declared open on 2nd August, 1991.  The picture above shows the well-grown bougainvilleas at the Bougainvillea section of the botanical area of the park.  The Bougainvillea garden was a popular public viewing point to see the development along the Bintulu coastline.
A closer view of the completed condominium  called Beach Resort Condominium and the first of its kind in Bintulu.
View from Bougainvillea garden, Taman Tumbina.
Date taken : 10th April,2015

Monday, March 2, 2015

Angsana trees along Kidurong Highway in 1982

View of Kidurong highway in 1982, looking towards Bintulu town.
The location is approximately near the present Indoor Stadium which is located at the left of the picture , after the steep slopes at the foreground.
The Angsana trees (Pterocarpus indicus) are planted from stumps.

View of Kidurong highway taken on 21 February, 2015.
Note the large size of the Angsana trees at left.  The central medium is planted with Tabebuia rosea/alba trees which are planted much later.
New cutting dated 15.8.1981
The Sarawak Tribune
'Angsana' trees or botanically known as Pterocarpus indicus was the main roadside tree species planted in the early 1980's when the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) started with the landscaping of Bintulu town and the new township at Kidurong.  The Kidurong highway which started from the old Bintulu town center (Mile 0) ran for about 12 kilometers to reach the new Kidurong township.  On both sides of the dual-carriageway were planted Angsana trees.  Today, those trees planted more than 30 years ago have reached full maturity and still remain strong and sturdy.  They helped improved the micro-climate along the highway, protect road users from the sun and glare.  The greatest impact is in the creation of a green garden city look.  In 1982, BDA officially appointed Mr. A.G. Alphonso and Mr. Cheang Kok Choy ( shown at the inset) as landscaping and horticultural consultants to help advise BDA on the creation of Bintulu into a 'garden city'.  Below is the content of the news cutting as indicated in the inset : -
The Sarawak Tribune, August 15, 1981.
Landscaping specialists on visit.
Kuching, Fri. -  Two beautification and landscaping specialists, Mr. George Alphonso and Mr Cheang Kok Choy of Penang arrived here yesterday for a five day visit at the invitation of the Bintulu Development Authority.  Mr. George Alphonso told the Tribune that the Bintulu Development Authorty was taking the correct step of viewing seriously the beautification and landscaping of the booming town of Bintulu.  He also suggested that the State should keep a standard nursery for various plants and trees, particularly the instant trees for planting along the sides of roads.  Mr. George Alphonso is the former Director of the Singapore Botanical Garden while his associate, Mr. Cheang Kok Choy, is a former Director of the Penang Botanical Garden.  Mr Cheang is currently involved with the Shah Alam landscape project.  While in Bintulu, the experts will conduct a feasibility study on the beautification and landscaping of Bintulu.   The visitors were feted to dinner at a local restaurant last night by Encik Sulong Matjeraie, General Manager of the Bintulu Development Authority. (see picture) - Mohd. Jaya Tan.

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.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sungai Terus Recreational Park in 1984

View of the Sungai Terus Recreational Park, photo  taken on 24 November,1984
The picture shows the strategic location of the park in the new Kidurong township. The park served the recreational needs of the new township that accomodated houses belonging to the MLNG Sdn Bhd, Bintulu Development Authority (BDA), Bintulu Port Authority and Petronas Housing built for ABF Sdn Bhd staff.

The Sungai Terus Park as seen today, 28 January,2015.
More additional park facilities are provided over time.  The park is now incorporated into a much larger chain of public parks in the Kidurong township called 'Millenium Park'.

Note the size of the Angsana trees when compared to its height during initial planting in 1984 as in the top picture above.
During the First Economic Boom (1979 -83) a new satellite township was created some 10 kilometers from the existing Bintulu town centre.  The township was called Kidurong New Township which was developed to cater for the staff housing of the companies involved with the first boom .  The companies were MLNG Sdn Bhd, Bintulu Port Authority, Bintulu Development Authority and ABF Sdn Bhd.  In order to meet the recreational needs of the new township, the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) which was the developer of the township constructed a recreational park called Sungai Terus Recreational Park.  Works started in 1983 and the park was fully completed in 1984.  On the 3rd of September, the board of directors of the BDA paid a site visit to the park after their board meeting.  In the early days of the park, it was fully utilised because it was the only large park to cater for the families and children of the new township as well as visitors from other parts of Bintulu.
Sungai Terus in relation to the new Kidurong township, as seen in 1988.
The Sungai Terus ( Sungai is Malay for river) is seen in the middle of the picture above.  The river starts from the hills and passes underneath the Kidurong Highway by means of a big underground culvert.  The big white patch is the pond.  The green area on both sides of the river as it flows out to the sea (towards bottom left of the picture) has been fully landscaped as a chain of public parks which is named today as the "Millenium Park".
Colour photo taken on 17 January, 1988.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bintulu Port area during the First Economic Boom (1979 - 83)

The Bintulu Port area in 1982 - a humble beginning.
Construction of the Bintulu Port was lead by a South Korean contractor named Daelim Industrial Co Ltd which secured a total of RM 170 million worth of construction packages for the first deepwater port of Sarawak. Works were in full swing in 1980 to meet the scheduled completion by end of 1982.  Total cost of building the port was RM 500 million.
Photo credits: Annual Audited Report of Bintulu Port Authority, 1982. 
View of port in 1988
One of the mammoth projects done to kick start the first economic boom in Bintulu (1979 - 1983) was the construction of the Bintulu Port by the Federal Transport Ministry of Malaysia.  Concerted efforts by all stakeholders were critical to the completion of the port built to handle the first shipment of liquified natural gas cargo (LNG) scheduled in 1983.  The Bintulu Port started operations on 1st January, 1983.  The first LNG cargo that left the port was on 29th January,1983.  The future development and sustenance of the port hinged primarily on its role as the sole provider of berthing and loading  facilities for the export of LNG.  However, to add value to its permanent presence in the Bintulu landscape it acquired vast tracts of land around the port vicinity for future storing, warehousing, transfer and direct loading of many other downstream petroleum and non-petroleum products for local and foreign destinations.  At the inset is a picture of the port area in 1988 which shows at the foreground the long conveyor gallery that transfer the granular urea products direct from the Asean Bintulu Fertiliser (ABF) plant to a shiploading facility at the end of the conveyor gallery.  The ABF plant started exporting granular urea in 1985.
The picture above shows the development of industrial land around the port vicinity in 2012.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kemena Bridge and Timber Processing Zone

The Kemena Bridge was officially opened for use on 13 December, 1983.
In the picture above is seen the Batang Kemena or Kemena River and towards the background of the picture is the Bintulu hinterland and interior areas.  The first and second phase of the Kemena Industrial Estate is situated on the right of the riverbank (moving downstream) and later phases were located at the opposite side (left side of the riverbank, moving downstream)
Picture credits : Investment Opportunities in Timber, Bintulu, Sarawak, BDA brochure.
 The appeal of Bintulu as a centrally located new growth centre for Sarawak depended on its land as well as off-shore resources.  The first economic boom (1979 - 1983)  saw the birth of new industries for the once sleepy Bintulu.  One of the projects that helped thrust Bintulu into the new industrial age was the the large-scale timber-based manufacturing centre situated on both sides of the Kemena Bridge.  This timber processing zone was called the Kemena Industrial Estate (KIE) by its developer, Bintulu Development Authority (BDA).  The bridge was critical to connect Bintulu to the capital city Kuching, some 600 kilometers away.  With the completion of the bridge in 1983, timber resources from other parts of Bintulu especially from the Tatau river system were able to be sent by land directly to the Kemena Industrial Estate.  The KIE success depended on the development of the Bintulu Deepwater Port at Tanjung Kidurong, the Kemena Bridge and a trunk road to connect the KIE to the exporting terminal at Tanjung Kidurong.  The early investors to the KIE started with sawn timber, plywood and veneer manufacturing activities for export.
The Kemena Bridge and Kemena Industrial Estate as seen in 1990.
Picture credits : An Invitation to Invest in Bintulu (2nd Ed.),BDA.
 The setting up of the Kemena Indusrtial Estate was prompted by Bintulu's factor endowments.  The Bintulu hinterland is covered with 3.4 million hectares of forested land.  The rich interior areas of the Batang Kemena or the Kemena River and the Tatau River systems are densely inventorised of commercially valuable tropical hardwood species.  In 1984 for instance the Bintulu region produced 2.8 million cubic meters of logs or 25% of Sarawak's total production.  Besides its vast forest reserves, the KIE is served by the Batang Kemena which is the chief means of transporting the cut logs or lumber from the upriver or deep interior areas to the processing zone.  Bintulu was also endowed with cheap and adequate treated water supply (9.2 million litres per day) to meet the industrial processing needs at the KIE.  This timber processing zone was and is still kept busy by the successive economic booms of Bintulu as new uses of timber with new technology were introduced like medium density fibreboard.
The Kemena Bridge and surrounding areas in late 1980's

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Market Garden at Sungai Plan

Road to Market Gardening Project area at Sungai Plan, near Tg. Kidurong.
The above picture shows the site allocated for the Market Garden project was carved from original jungle.
Picture credits: The Sarawak Tribune, 26th November, 1981.
 Two large projects that attracted people to Bintulu during the first boom (1979 - 1983 ) were the LNG plant (Liquified Natural Gas) belonging to Malaysia LNG Sdn Bhd and the Bintulu Deep Water Port.  These mammoth projects were the prime generators of employment during the first boom period.  The influx of people coming to work in Bintulu as temporary workers created a sudden demand for food items such as vegetables.  In those days, enterprising businessmen even imported vegetables by air from Sabah to meet the daily needs.  Due to the soaring prices of vegetables, the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi Hj. Abdul Rahman Yakub decided to re-settle some existing vegetable growers from Sibu and Bintagor to become pioneers at Sungai Plan.  Out of original jungle, vegetables plots were  created for the settlers and their families. Later they were given tables at the Bintulu vegetable market as outlets to sell the vegetables directly to the consumers instead of through middlemen.  This project proved successful in the early stages and was able to drastically bring down the prices of locally grown vegetables during those crucial years.  Today, the original settlers are hardly doing any more vegetable growing and they prefer to use their land or allocated lots for warehousing, workshops, light industrial housing, permanent residential  housing development and shophouses.
The old Sungai Plan road  has been tremendously improved over the years.
Today the road is very heavily used  as an alternative route to the new industrial area at Similajau.
Date taken : 4 January 2015.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Landscaping of SMDS Administrative area

Overall view of SMDS Administrative area (foreground with green roof).  In the background at left are the storage tanks of BCOT ( Bintulu Crude Oil Terminal) and on the right of the picture at the top is partly seen the MLNG Sdn Bhd Office Complex (white buildings) and the LNG plant complex towards right of the picture.
Date taken : 22 December, 2014.

 The Shell SMDS plant located at Bintulu is the first of its kind in the world to convert natural gas into synthetic oil products.  The products include high quality middle distillates such gasoil (diesel) and kerosene, as well as naptha, paraffins and wax.  To undertake this project in Bintulu, a joint-venture company was incorporated in 1989 with the equity structure as follow :- Shell Gas BV (60%), Mitsubishi Corporation (20%), Petronas (10%) and Sarawak State Government (10%).
In 1992 I was involved with the landscaping of the administrative area of the SMDS plant (see inset).  This job was one of the major landscaping works done by my company, Exxoplus Corporation Sdn Bhd. when it started operations in Bintulu in 1992.  I was fortunate to have met Mr. H W Van der Woerdt who was the Construction Manager for the SMDS plant in Bintulu then.  Pleased with my landscaping design proposal he later gave my company the job of actual planting the proposed design, besides just the design consultancy.  This job kept me busy for the first few months since I started the company.  Later in 1993, I did more landscaping jobs for the SMDS company especially in their housing area at Taman Matahari, Kidurong township.  Below are some views of the administrative area taken on 30th July,1992 while on a site visit to the area.
View of SMDS Administrative Area, taken on 30th July. 1992.

View of the landscaping works around the Administrative area, taken on 22nd December,2014
View of the proposed landscaping area, taken on 30.7.1992
The buildings in green roofing belongs to SMDS, while the buildings in red in the background belongs to MLNG Sdn Bhd.

View of the planting, according to design proposal.
Image taken on 22 December,2014.
View of entrance to SMDS plant and office site.  The SMDS car parking area is at right.
Photo taken on 28 July'92 while on site visit to the proposed area for landscaping.

View of entrance to SMDS office and plant site  today, 28 January,2015.