Saturday, January 31, 2009

Flood, Flood, Flood

When water started to spill over some low lying areas here in Matu on Jan 28 and swelled on Jan 29, it looks like it's just a spill-over from the current king tide. But the round-the-clock downpour on Jan 29 and dawn of Jan 30 has got everybody a shocking morning call on Jan 30. Water has exceeded the previous flood level in mid Jan. I thought of not writing about it anymore but I feel that sharing it with friends will make me feel better and connected with the outside world in my total isolation now. No boat, no road! So I'm just updating the situation from my 'island' home here, thanks to this free internet service that kept Matu connected to the world.

My 'island' home - no boat, no road. The car porch is somewhere 5 feet down there. This is actually my first experience to be personally affected by flood and it taught me new things about patience, leadership and management besides new friends and bloggers as well. Blessing in disguise...

My office building which is a kilometer away form my home is like a floating vessel. The flood ops-room, the police and the JPA3 personnel are all on high spirit and full alert inside. This is taken from across the road in front of the building but the road is already soaked down there, only good for higher vehicles.

The five-foot way along Matu Bazaar was inches above water during the last flood but this time around, water has already gone above. What a time to happen, our Chinese friends are still in their festive mood. Hope it will bring good business for the year to come.

The Melanau longhouse at Kg. Sok, Matu on Jan 30. The bridge in front is still high above water though other areas around is already under water.

Jan 31 - That bridge has turned into a river. Water has risen by 2 feet in the last 24 hours. The longhouse is still safe and sound, thanks to the tall structure. I think this is one reason why we built tall houses, being people of the river a.k.a. 'a likou', water is just one step away. I'll write more about this Melanau longhouse, the one and only, in my later posting. As for now I just hope and pray to the Almighty that this flood will be over soon.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just Something Different

I have been giving updates on flood in Matu during the early Jan 2009 occurrence although another one has occurred during Christmas 2008. And this week starting yesterday Jan 28, it looks like Matu is going to have it for the third time in 2 months. Water has swell to knee level at certain areas and it’s raining non-stop today but it’s not going to be my story for now as events will be just a repetition of the past two.

I was browsing through my photo collection last night as my home was already an island separated from Matu mainland by then. So I found something that I thought would be interesting to share and to remind me that there’s always something different out there if you look further.

A coconut tree that made a big story in Kg. Simalatung, Simunjan in 2008.

They said there's a cross up there. Got this during my election duties (GE 08) in the area.

On June 8 last year, a friend called, telling me that if I put an egg in the middle

of the sun at mid-day today, it will stand up. I tried and it did.

I don't know why but my friend said it's something to do with Chinese belief.

A beautiful butterfly I found at home in Sri Aman with a snake head print on its wings.

Another interesting find at my home in Sri Aman.

This two-tailed lizard is a regular occupant of my kitchen wall.

Caught it once but it looks better in the 'wild'.

Another one but this one is from my parents home in Dalat.

An interesting plant found along the banks of Igan river locally called 'kelepok' (??)

The young leaves is good for 'ulam' with 'inut'. I'm sure blogger Rose Ragai knows better about this Batang Igan starfruit.

With my camera ready at all time, I hope not to miss anything 'interesting' that comes by. Sometimes it may just look like nothing special, but it's worth to look a little bit further. I'm looking forward to see UFOs or even aliens someday. They are out there.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Visiting Friends in the Year of the Ox

Chinese New Year is here again and it’s the Year of the Ox. It’s another new start to look forward to better things ahead. Hoping that this auspicious occasion will bring happiness, good health, wealth and peace to all Malaysian. And truly Malaysia it is, the unique tradition of open house and visiting friends will help us achieve our dreams. So I did some visiting today to my old friends and former colleagues in Engkilili.

With Mr. Lai Chaw Soon at his residence in Jelukong

Visiting Mr. Dennis Tay (in orange shirt) at Engkilili Bazaar with an old friend
and former boss-turn-politician, YB Tuan Masir Kujat, Member of Parliament for Sri Aman

May this New Year keep old friends new and make new friends old. Let the 'family' gets BIGGER for a better Malaysia. Cheers and God Bless.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another Weekend In Bandar Sri Aman

Chinese New Year is coming and so is the Earth Ox. With an extra two days off over the weekend for the festive season, I had my time back with my family in Bandar Sri Aman. Since the journey by land through the 'ladang' from Mukah to Selangau is currently in terrible shape (2 hours for 50 km), I detoured to Daro, taking the express boat for a 1 hr 45 mins trip to Sarikei which will be connected by express bus to Sri Aman (Temudok junction to be exact).

Back in Bandar Sri Aman, as usual my routine Saturday will start off with the open air market morning break with my family. Next will be the round around the Pasar Tamu Majlis Daerah Sri Aman for the weekend kitchen supply. It is here that I found some local fresh stuff considered bizarre by some, normal by others or whatever. 'Buah kepayang', 'beras Mamut', 'upak lalis', Batang Ai red tilapia, 'salai' are among the commonly found at the Tamu. But my attention goes to some other foods not very familiar to some people.

The pufferfish (ikan buntal) is a delicacy to some locals (or even the Japanese) but others will just look for other fish instead, for whatever reason known to themselves. Spaoh, a Sub-District in the Betong Division even has its own annual Pesta Buntal where pufferfish will be the hunt of the day.

Pufferfish at RM5.00 a kilo, quite fair.

Those who prefer other fish for their meal will find a lot of choice commonly found elsewhere but the red tilapia is of course special to Sri Aman Division, thanks to the Batang Ai Hydro Electric Dam. It's a brand name for Batang Ai so I guess it's already well-known. But other fish like the catfish ('tekilik' in Melanau, 'kelik' in Iban, 'keli' in Malay) usually makes its appearence during this time of the year. Matu, Dalat and now Bandar Sri Aman, catfish seems to be the catch of the flood season. Used to go into deep jungle back home in Dalat some 30 years ago to get the 'freshest' ones the traditional way. But now those available in the market may just come from anywhere.

This one is for RM16.00 a kilo, hmm. Why do they call it catfish, does it look like cat in anyway?

Beside the fishy stuff, some jungle (not so jungle) vegetables does come fresh also. The tapioca leaves (locally known as daun ubi) is easily available at the freshest as you want it to be.

'Daun ubi' pounded on the spot, as fresh as it can be.
You can do it yourself if you have your own pounding 'machine' at home.

Next on the offer list is something more familiar to Dalat, the sago worms. It's not very common here but sometimes you'll find it at this Tamu. Today is my lucky day, sago worm is here but ... I'm not sure whether I can believe my eyes. It's fresh, it's alive and it's in a group of ten or slightly more, depend on size. This is BIZARRE FOOD!! Really?

RM5.00 per container, that's 50 cents each or maybe just do your own count to believe it.

Ending my Tamu round, I prefer not to have this wormy delicacy for now. I can easily make a good sago worm business with our small family sago farm back home in Dalat at this price. But of course it's much cheaper there, so sago logging business is still the preference.

Weekend in Bandar Sri Aman does not only provides you with the normal or weekend-to-weekend activities. And this weekend proves that Bandar Sri Aman is also good for photo-taking. As I strolled around, I stumbled upon a photo-taking session of a newly wed couple in full gear. That's a good sign for Bandar Sri Aman..

Abg. Ajibi, the photgrapher is my former colleague, a Pak Andam,
a good cook, a good tailor, a senamrobic instructor, poco-poco, etc, etc. etc

Well, that's just another weekend in Bandar Sri Aman. So as development takes place day by day, a weekend here may be different week by week. See you there.

Tomorrow will be Chinese New Year of the Ox, so I wish all colleagues and friends a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year. Gong Xi Fa Chai.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mukah to SCORE the right way

Since the Sarawak Corridor Of Renewable Energy (SCORE) was launched by the Prime Minister YAB Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Feb 11 2008, much development is expected within the corridor. Mukah Division, being at the heart of the corridor is getting ready for the big boom.

A workshop on Strategic Environmental Master Plan (SEMP) for the Division was organised by the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) and Chemsain Konsultant Sdn. Bhd. on Jan 20 at the Menara Pehin Setia Raja, Mukah with participants from various relevant agencies in Mukah Division.

The objectives of the workshop are :

* To discuss the issues presented in the Environmental Profile and those that are overlooked;
* To prioritize issues in terms of severity and scope of impact;

* To discuss and determine (where possible) environmental goals or targets to be achieved;

* To determine the strategies in addressing the environmental issues.

Grassroot leaders, Temenggong Hj. Tioh b. Ali Moktar and Walikota of MDDM, Ali Suhaili at the workshop

With a better understanding of what's to come for the Division in terms of environmental impact due to the vast development in plan, the workshop should provide a new life-line for the beaches, rivers, peat land, the air and water to be in a better shape for the SCORErs into the next generation. Otherwise, it will be a 'marriage in hell' as some participants described it had development been a one-sided affair.

Participants with the organisers at the end of the workshop - sharing common goals

There's high hope from the workshop to ensure that we SCORE into the right goal! GOD Bless.

Matu flood updates - Matu was 100% back to normal on Jan 20, some10 days later and the above workshop was a very timely one.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Matu Wetland, the 8th day

Flood condition in Matu has much improve on this 8th day though most affected areas are still under 1 - 1.5 ft of water. Weather's fine, the sun shines and the blue sky means drier days ahead. Since water took over the landscape of Matu Bazaar and nearby villages a week ago, the residents of Matu really mean it when they described this flood as normal to Matu. No panic, no emergency and no evacuation. But of course, some daily outdoor economic activities was a bit slow or even stood still. Farmers whose paddy field was under water for the past week may have some headaches as their next harvest looks uncertain.

Water level around Matu Bazaar is at walkable level but vehicles are still not ready to take the road. Engined-powered and man-powered boats has been the traffic of this small town since Jan 10 but today the roads is getting more lively with locals getting around on foot, including me.

Water at knee level today compared to waist level 3 - 4 days ago.
Going to office for the routine flood report to the State and Divisional Disaster Ops Room.
My quarters (at the back in pink) is still separated from the mainland.

Water is still the landscape around but the blue sky above is a relief.

Though the overall condition has improved, it's best to stay alert and keep in touch with the weatherman's updates.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thank You, Mr. Azahari Mohammad

On this 6th day of flood around Matu Bazaar and nearby villages starting with 3 feet on Jan 10 and has subsides to 1 – 2 feet today, I would like to go for some lighter notes of local activities on higher grounds.

Today we had a farewell lunch for Mr. Azahari Mohammad, the Area Manager of FELCRA Bhd, Matu who will be leaving for ‘higher grounds’ in FELCRA Pahang after a 2½ years of productive service in Matu. A very committed manager who will not rest until he sees the best. We first met as strangers on the Igan ferry – a place where strangers become friends!

Azahari, giving his farewell speech

Beside the local heads of department and community leaders, YB Encik Abu Seman b. Jahwie, ADUN N.38 Jemoreng has made his time for the function. Being a local YB from Kpg. Bawang, Matu, his concern for land development in Matu is at his utmost priority. In his speech, he urged the people of Matu to fully understand the government’s policies on land development. He advised the local community leaders to play their role to explain these policies to the people where their cooperation and support is most important. YB Abu Seman also suggested that FELCRA give priority to the local workforce wherever required in their projects.

YB Abu Seman Jahwie stressing a point on land development

A terendak Matu for Azahari from YB Abu Seman

Good luck and enjoy your new office. May your dream Mercedes comes true, soon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Matu - Water, water, water everywhere

Water level has swell as it was in December 2008. Heavy downpour throughout the nights and days of Jan 10 and 11 has put roads around Matu Bazaar under 2 - 3 feet of water. King tide over the weekend has add some extra inches to the level. Weather is cloudy but no rain today so water level stays there for the time being.

Due to the increasing water level for the past few days, JPA3 personnel have been on 24-hour standby at the Dewan Suarah Matu. Though no evacuation is necessary at the moment, things can't be taken for granted due to the present weather condition. Heavy rains and strong winds may just happen anytime in this coastal District. So at the moment, being on full alert of the situation is the best action.

My latest round around some areas shows that the situation is serious though some locals says it's normal to Matu.

Going around by boat to get a better picture and better pictures of the situation.
Thanks to the boat ride business that will bring you around for a minimal charge.

Matu Bazaar - no more cars or motorcycles. Boats is taking over the road as water sinks the road 3 feet down. Business stood still but shopowners are as calm as the water below.

The only traffic around is boat but it does not need the filling station nearby. It's powered by father-and-daughter.

It's all water around. Though water is inches below this Klinik Kesihatan Matu, the flags still fly high and so are the spirit of the staffs inside as I dropped by to check the situation. Now the 'am-boat-lance' is on standby there!

The Pos Malaysia office is already an island. There's no Poslaju now but maybe a botlaju is available.

Alert gets higher as warning by the authorities of more downpour within the week. A police boat is ready for action in front of the District Office building.

With the patrol unit from IPD Daro as they make their round to Matu to monitor the situation. Their present is very much welcome as lots of vehicle will be on higher grounds along the roadsides at villages affected by the flood. It's our duty to help them ensure our safety, the vehicles and the traffic as well. Thank you, guys.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Matu Waterworld

It’s a wet, wet year end for Matu. Year end showers send some parts of Matu about 3 feet under water around Christmas. But the local knows it’s an annual occurrence, everybody is ready, no panic, no evacuation. Some villages like Kpg. Jemoreng, Kpg. Sekaan, Kpg. Bertong, Kpg. Bawang, Kpg. Sok were not spared from this annual experience at its height in December. It ends as the year ends.

But one week into the new year of 2009, water seems to be coming back. Rain has been on and off since Jan 7 throughout the night, Jan 8 throughout another night till today Jan 10 and rain is still falling. As I made some rounds around town and affected villages for the past two days, it's all the 'waterscape' again though not bad as the year end. Precaution is high among the locals as something worse has happen in the past, 2003 being the last. Hopefully no more.

Year end water at its height. Matu Bazaar at water level which is 3 feet above road level.

Photo by Jabatan Penerangan Matu

Matu Bazaar as of Jan 9. Water is still at 'motorcyclable' level.

The football field behind the MDMD office seems to be suitable for water polo.

A house in Kpg. Jemoreng just above water level.

Water goes up at Kpg. Bertong.

A kampung road at Kpg. Jemoreng.

Government quarters area also under water.

It’s all water around this quarters, too. In December, it’s as high as the red mark on the posts.

On foot’s the best way around.

Business as ususal. JKR Waterworks staff going for repair works at their water pumps.

Cars and motorcycles stood still on higher grounds.

When cars and motorcycle stood still, boat rules.