CM wants Museum Dept to retrace English novelists’ steps during adventure in Simanggang

Posted on : 20 Jan 2020  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Abang Johari (centre) about to chair the Sarawak Development Coordinating Meeting in Sri Aman on Monday. Also seen in the photo are (from left) State Secretary Datuk Amar jaul Samion, and Deputy Chief Ministers Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

SRI AMAN: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has asked the Sarawak Museum Department to retrace the steps of English novelist William Somerset Maugham during his adventure in Simanggang in the 1920s.

“We know of a literary figure Somerset Maugham who wrote books, some inspired by Sri Aman.

“I have asked the Museum Department to locate the locations depicted in his book, and we convert those locations into heritage centres,” Abang Johari told reporters after chairing the Sarawak Development Coordinating Meeting here this morning.

This, he said, would be one way to pique the interest of tourists and visitors to come and visit Sri Aman, along with Batang Ai in Lubok Antu.

Maugham came to Borneo in the 1920s as part of his Southeast Asia tour. Along his journey in Borneo, he wrote fictional stories based on his actual experience.

One that is of particular interest is his book ‘The Casuarina Tree’, with a story entitled ‘The Yellow Streak’ which was written based on his adventure in Simanggang then.

The story is about a man named Izzart who is in charge of looking after the safety of a mining engineer named Champion, hired by a fictional Sultan of Sembulu to look for mining prospects in Borneo.

Both characters had an unfortunate accident, had their boat capsized while faring the mighty Batang Rajang during a tidal bore. They however survived, according to the book.

Maugham died in 1965 at the age of 91.

On another note, Abang Johari also announced the building of a new Civic Centre for Sri Aman, to replace the current one which he said had maxed out its capacity.

He said it was revealed during the meeting earlier that the cost to expand the current Civic Centre would be equivalent to building a new one, and thus he said it was decided that it would be better to build a new one at a new site.

The proposed new Civic Centre would be part of Sri Aman’s planned Town Square, which is part of the development projects for Sri Aman under the 11th Malaysia Plan where some RM500 million has been allocated for the town’s physical development.

Abang Johari said while the basic buildings of the Town Square has been completed including some shoplots and a hotel, it would also include seven hectares of ‘green lung’ smack in the centre of it, filled with trees.

“So we are setting up Sri Aman Development Area (SADA) which will speed up this development process for Sri Aman – from Simanggang all the way to Lubok Antu, including basic infrastructure like roads, as well as the agricultural sector,” he said.