The Rajang is also famous for first its long boats which carried warriors who hunted for heads and then made peace in the 1880's, wooden motor launches built by the Chinese 1900's and then the special bullet lik express boats which are sealed up except for the two front doors and one back door where the power engines roar with life.
Sibu is the foremost ship building hub of Sarawak. It builds boats for the locals as well as for the foreigners who place orders which take one or two years to full fill because of the long queue. Sibu express boats are found in Sumatra to name one foregin country. Sibu built expresses ply along most of the Sarawak and Sabah rivers.
|Composte photo from Sarikeians. Thanks.|
But how many accidents have really been seriously recorded by the Sarawak River Board and the Sabah River Board? What stringent rules have been maintained?
The Bakun/Belaga/Kapit express plies only once a day. This boat reaches Belaga with already a full load of workers who are working in the Bakun. The passengers thus were mainly Ibans and Orang Ulus.
|It is so ironical that the express is called KAWAN MAS. Golden Friend. Did any one check its RIVER worthiness before the fatal trip? Its engine was reported failure one hour after Belaga. Was there any Government officer or Police Officer on patrol in Belaga? The Express company would have earned three times more on this trip having so many illegal passengers. Is the extra earning all worth it? (Photo : Borneo Post)|
Gawai is a thanksgiving cum harvest festival. It is a time when the Ibans in particular would rush home with goodies, and cash for their reunion in the longhouses. Young bujangs (bachelors) of the Iban ethnic groups, amongst others like Kayan, Penan and others are often the sole breadwinner or cash cows of the family, bringing home cash,more often than not, for three generations. Those members of the family who stay home are involved with padi and oil palm planting, fishing and vegetable gathering.
|Bottoms up. (Borneo Post Photo)|
| This photo reminds me of a lost toy floating in a river far away
from the child because it is too dangerous to pick it up. The bottom of
the express boat Kawan Mas when it turned turtle.(Pix courtesy of Culture and Heritage Assistant Minister Liwan Lagang. NST)|
Borneo Post Photo)
|Some of the survivors, a bag is noted.(Borneo Post photo)|
When a member of a family passes away, the mourning ADAT(way of life) of the Ibans prescribes the switching of radio, talking in soft tones, no merrymaking,no outside visitors. All their women will take out their black sarong to wear, and they wear no makeup, some do not bathe for a few days. These mourning and grieving rites will be observed until the NGETAS ULIT (FORMAL CLOSING OF THE MOURNING PERIOD) mark the end of the sorrowful period.( Gregory N. Mawar)
Why can't the Timber Companies charter boats for their workers as part of their Social Concern or Corporate Commitment to Society once a year, at least for Gawai? Why can't the River Board get their men to control the crowds? Did the Police turn a blind eye?
Don't blame the rock that sank the express boat.