Monthly Archives: March 2009

Bintulu ‘belacan’ to be signature product

LOCAL PRODUCTS: Fatimah (centre), Hasnah (fifth left) and others give their thumbs-up to Bintulu belacan
LOCAL PRODUCTS: Fatimah (centre), Hasnah (fifth left) and others give their thumbs-up to Bintulu belacan

BINTULU: The famous ‘Belacan Bintulu’ which is in big demand in the state and the peninsula will be turned into another Sarawak signature product.

Assistant Minister of Agriculture (Home Economics and Training) Datin Fatimah Abdullah said since Bintulu has been known for generations as a producer of delicious belacan, it is time to expand and brand it as Sarawak’s best.

“So far as I know from friends and people who like belacan, no divisions or districts can challenge the unique taste of belacan made in Bintulu and this should be commercialised locally and internationally,” said Fatimah in her speech when visiting a successful belacan entrepreneur Hasnah @ Normah Zamhari in Kampung Baru here yesterday.

She said even though belacan is not as attractive as other food products such as ‘kek (layered cake) which comes in a variety of designs and colours, those who ate it would not easily forget the unique taste.

Therefore, the raising of the status of belacan Bintulu has been discussed with the chairman of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) Datuk Talib Zulpilip, she said, adding that they would launch the product as a signature product in a special ceremony on April 11 in Jepak.

Fatimah who is also Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Human Resource and Training), said women engage in businesses were mostly involved in the food processing industry.

She said with Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) in development, there would be great demand on the food manufacturing industry.

Even during an economic crisis, the food industry is still the most important and secure because people still need to eat.

“Once the heavy industries operating in SCORE area are fully implemented, they would generate opportunities for the opening up of small and medium industries.

“We have yet to get the names of belacan producers in Bintulu, so my ministry will create a database of the industry as soon as possible.

“This is to make sure that all the plans and programmes get implemented efficiently to ensure that the demand for the product is still there and improving,” said Fatimah.

She added that what Bintulu need to do now is to have a consistent belacan production to ensure that the market can expand continuously and firmly without worrying about any shortage in supply.

“But as the product is dependent on marine resources like shrimps, which is seasonal, the producers need to find alternative ways to generate their income.

“One way is to add value to their existing products to turn them into competitive and marketable products,” she said.

As of now, she said, they had identified 12 successful women kek lapis entrepreneurs in the state and hopefully the quantity could be increased through the participation of local women’s entrepreneurs in Bintulu.

“We have kek lapis millionaires in Kuching and hopefully we will have belacan millionaires,” she said.

Hasnah was a local entrepreneur involved in small-time food production of keropok in 2004.

As her business expanded, she went into belacan production. She was given a grant of RM75,000 by the Agriculture Department to set up a factory.

 After inspecting Hasnah’s food processing facility, Fatimah said one thing that entrepreneurs should remember is not to jeopardise the good name of Bintulu belacan merely for the sake of profits.

They must always emphasise quality. She also disclosed that her ministry was working closely with Mosti (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Malaysia) to create a more systematic and modern machine and techniques for producing belacan.

In other words she said local entrepreneurs must work closely with government agencies like Fama, Mardi and other agencies to improve and develop their products in terms of branding, packaging and other crucial aspects like marketing.

To have a benchmark of the best belacan product here, Fatimah suggested that some belacan producing competition should be held.

“It is important to have good manufacturing practice in food production to give confidence to customers,” said Fatimah.



We’ll be Malaysia’s richest state: Taib

Chief Minister of Sarawak Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud

Chief Minister of Sarawak Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud

BINTULU: Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud last night expressed optimism that Sarawak will be the richest state in the whole of Malaysia by year 2030 as a result of the current second wave of Politics of Development.

“By the year 2030, Insyallah (God willing), we will be the richest state in the whole of the country. We will be the land of opportunity,” said Taib when speaking in his 28th year in office as Chief Minister of Sarawak at Dewan Suarah Bintulu here last night.

Taib warned, however, that despite the optimism, the situation could change for the worst if there was no unity among the people and the leaders of the state.

He pointed out that basic to the state’s achievement in the past was the unity of purpose among Sarawakians and their leaders.

“We were able to succeed because we can bring the dreams of the Chinese, the Ibans, the Malays, Melanaus and others together even though their dreams are different… but we know how,” he said.

“We must share one vision and move forward,” he said and added that the last 28 years was the most important task undertaken by the state government to ensure a more developed state for the people.”

Taib said while many attributed the success of the state up to now to his leadership, to him he held to the belief that “the government is not mine alone”.

“I am only the thinker. If you do not put your hand on the flower, nothing will happen,” the chief minister said.

Of the state’s journey to success, Taib said the first wave of politics of development was difficult as it involved a lot of efforts to change people’s mindset.

According to him, now that Sarawakians are mentally ready and willing, the new wave of development should be realised in due time.

He said the state had put in place supporting infrastructure to ensure that there would be enough skilled workforce to power its second development wave.

Land Development Minister Dato Sri Dr James Masing and Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip also spoke last night.

Among those present were State Legislative Assembly Speaker Dato Sri Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar, cabinet ministers and assistant ministers, state assembly-men, parliamentarians, senators, community leaders and over 1,000 people from all walks of life.

Taib the glue that binds state BN

BINTULU: The greatest success of Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud in his 28 years of service to Sarawak as its Chief Minister is perhaps in being the glue that binds the state Barisan Nasional (BN).

Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Dato Sri Dr James Masing believes that planning for development was half of the chief minister’s job, the other half was in keeping the coalition working as a unit.

“Of the two functions of the chief minister, the later, I feel is the hardest.

“This is where you (Taib) are a cut above the rest. The last 28 years was not an easy one,” he said at the celebration of Taib’s anniversary in office here last night.

Representing state BN leaders in his speech, Masing said the demands and needs of political parties required more than just Taib’s patience and understanding; it required analytical skills to identify priorities and tackle problems accordingly.

“Not only do you have to analyse each problem critically; you have to know the source of the problem and who are causing it,” said Masing, who is Land Development Minister.

Attempting to interpret Taib’s vision and leadership in a nutshell, Masing conceded that the political arena was a playground of rumours, and within its borders, perceptions could grow wings and fly and are assumed to be the truth.

In this respect, he said: “In a world of half truths and half lies, we the politicians have to assume the role of conjurors who are expected to find the truth in the muck thrown at us, and we are expected by the public to smell like roses and maintain our sanity.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you can ask any of the party leaders just how difficult it is to keep both our sanity and smell clean after solving the problems of the public.”

Having said that, he pointed out that with Taib’s guidance, the state BN leaders had emerged from the muck on strong footing.

Masing added that in his short term as the leader of a political party, he had tasted the burden of leadership and not only has he been criticised for things he had done but also things he had not done.

And through Taib’s stewardship, he said he and his colleagues had learned to be patient and forgiving and to soldier on with the tasks that they were sworn to take.

Dwelling further on the challenges faced by Taib, Masing confessed to being one of those people who had given the Chief Minister a hard time as the state BN chairman.

“Pehin Sri, in spite of all the half truths and half lies, and some criticisms that are down right lies, you have carried the burden of leadership with pride and you have kept the coalition going despite the challenges you were and are made to face.

“Some of these challenges are man-made – and I was one of those who made them at one stage – while others are natural disasters.

“To avoid the dangers of these political pitfalls and come out shining is not an easy task. You have done it, sir, with flying colours,” said Masing.

Earlier, Masing also said that everyone should understand the vision and mission of the Chief Minister for the sake of continuity in the development of the state.

“In knowing what he is trying to do, in understanding what he has in mind for us and for the next generation of Sarawak, we will be in a better position to implement his work.

“And for those of you who are much younger and are being considered as the second echelon leaders, you would be in a better frame of mind to continue his work when the time comes for you to take over the mantle of leadership,” he said.