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The Sibu wharf terminal
|Nickname(s): "Swan city"/ "New Fuzhou"|
|Founded by James Brooke||1853|
|Settled by Wong Nai Siong||21 January 1901|
|Municipality||1 November 1981|
|• Type||Sibu Municipal Council|
|• Chairman||Tiong Thai King|
|• Sibu town||129.5 km2 (50.0 sq mi)|
|Elevation||8 m (26 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|• Sibu town||162,676|
|• Density||1,256.19/km2 (3,253.5/sq mi)|
|Time zone||MST (UTC+8)|
|• Summer (DST)||Not observed (UTC+8)|
|International dialling code prefix||084 (landline only)|
|Vehicle registration plate prefix||QS (for all vehicles except taxis)
HQ (for taxis only)
Sibu // (Chinese: 诗巫; pinyin: Shīwū) is an inland town at the central region of Sarawak and the capital of Sibu District in Sibu Division, Sarawak, Malaysia. It covers an area of 129.5 square kilometres (50.0 sq mi). It is located at the confluence of the Rajang and Igan Rivers, some 60 kilometres from the South China Sea and approximately 191.5 kilometres (119 mi) north-east of the state capital Kuching. The population is mainly dominated by Chinese especially the Fuzhou people. Other ethnic groups such as indigenous Melanau, Malay, and Iban are also present in this region. The town population as of the year 2010 is 162,676.
Sibu is the main tourist gateway to the Upper Rajang River, with its small riverine towns and its many Iban and Orang Ulu longhouses. Among the notable landmarks in Sibu are Wisma Sanyan, the tallest building in Sarawak, 1.2 km Lanang Bridge, which is one of the longest river bridge in Sarawak, and the biggest town square in Malaysia near the Wisma Sanyan.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Governance
- 4 Geography
- 5 Demography
- 6 Economy
- 7 Transportation
- 8 Other utilities
- 9 Culture and leisure
- 10 Developmental Issues
- 11 Landmarks
- 12 Accommodation
- 13 Cuisine
- 14 Notable figures from Sibu
- 15 International relations
- 16 See also
- 17 References
- 18 External links
Sibu was known as "Maling", which was named after a bend of the Rajang river called "Tanjung Maling" opposite the present day Sibu town near the confluence of Igan and Rajang rivers. On 1 June 1873, third division of Sarawak (present day Sibu Division) was created under Brooke administration. The division was later named after the native rambutan fruit which can be found abundantly at the region. Rambutan is known as "Buah Sibau" in the Iban language.
Between 1999 to 2004, Sibu Municipal Council decided to adopt "Swan" as a symbol of Sibu town in order to inspire the people to work towards the goal of becoming a city in the future. Since then, one Swan statue is erected near the Sibu wharf terminal and another statue is constructed in the town centre. Sibu is also nicknamed as "Swan city". The idea of the "Swan" came from a legend where famine in Sibu ended when a flock of swans flying through the skies of Sibu. There is another story where the Sibu Chinese immigrants regarded Sibu Melanau people as "Go" people because Melanau staple food was "Sago". Coincidentally, "Go" pronounciation is similar to Hokkien pronounciation of "Swan". This reminded Sibu Chinese immigrants of "Swan River" back in Fuzhou, China. Therefore, they decided to name the Rajang River as "Swan River" (鹅江).
In the 15th century, the Malays living in southern Sarawak has displaced the immigrant Iban people towards the present-day Sibu region. Throughout the 17th and 18th century, the Rajang basin was rife with tribal wars between Ibans and indigenous people in the Rajang basin. Sometimes, the Ibans would form a loose alliance with the Malays to attack the Kayan tribes and perform raids on Chinese and Indonesian ships passing through the region. Sibu (formerly named as "Maling") was a small village with several shop-houses. Such shophouses were built with atap roofs, wooden walls, and floors. The earliest inhabitants of Sibu were Melanau people, followed by Ibans, and Malay people in the 1850s. 
James Brooke started to rule Sarawak (present day Kuching) in 1841 after he obtained the territory from the Bruneian Empire. By 1853, Sarawak has expanded its territory to Sibu region. There were 60 wooden shops in Sibu according to Sarawak Gazette published on 24 January 1871. In 1873, third division of Sarawak was created with Sibu town included in the division.
First Chinese arrival in Sibu was in 1880s. A group of Hokkien (福建) people built two rows of 40 shophouses around Sibu Fort (Fort Brooke). The Hokkien Chinese was a minority at that time, mostly consisting of Kekhs and Min Nan (闽南) people who were doing business. A small number of Chiang Chuan (漳泉) and Amoy (廈門) people later arrived at Sibu mostly due to commercial interests. By 1893, Munan Anak Minggat and his followers arrived in Sibu. They built a longhouse at Pulau Kerto, which is an island at the bend of Rajang River opposite the Sibu town near the confluence of Rajang and Igan Rivers. He was a loyal war-leader to the Brookes and has helped to quash Iban people rebellions around Upper Katibas and Lupar rivers in in 1860s and 1880s. In 1903, he was the first Iban to operate a rubber plantation in Kuching. He later invested the profits of his rubber plantation to shop-houses and lands in Sibu.
There used to be a Sibu Fort (Fort Brooke), which was built by Rajah Brooke in 1862. The fort was located at the present day Channel Road in Sibu. It served as an administrative centre for the Brookes in Sibu. However, it no longer exists now. It was common for the White Rajah to build such forts to stake his territorial claim as well as means of protection. The existence of Sibu Fort is proven by historical writings:
There is a fort in Sibu, as indeed there is at most of the river places in Sarawak...
The fort at Sibu was close to the Resident Dr. Hose's house and was attacked by Dayaks only a few years ago. Johnson, one of Dr. Hose's assistants, showed me a very long Dayak canoe capable of seating over one hundred men...The river at Sibu was of great width, over a mile across, in fact, and close to the bank is a Malay village, and a bazaar where the wily Chinaman does a thriving trade in the wild produce of the country, and makes huge profits out of the Dayaks and other natives on this river.—Reported by H. Wilfrid Walke in 1909.
On 13 May 1870, the fort was attacked by 3,000 Kanowit Dayaks under the leadership of a notable Dayak chief named Lintong or Mua-ri. The Dayaks tried to cut through the door of the fort by using axes but they were later defeated by the Brookes.
On 10 February 1889, Sibu town was burnt to the ground. This has caused a developmental delay in Sibu. On 8 March 1928, the Sibu town was again consumed by a great fire. However, the Tua Pek Kong Temple remained intact. Such incident was considered a miracle by the locals.
Chinese Foochow settlement
Wong Nai Siong (黄乃裳), a Christian scholar from Fujian province of China, learn about Sarawak and the White Rajahs through his son-in-law, Dr Lim Boon Keng. Disillusioned with the Qing Dynasty heavy handed approach against the Boxer Rebellion where Chinese christians were specially targeted for murder, Wong Nai Siong decided to search for a new settlement overseas especially South East Asia. Previously in September 1899, he had search fruitlessly in Malaya and Indonesia.
Wong got an approval from Charles Brooke to look for a new settlement in the Rajang basin. In April 1900, Wong traveled 13 days up the Rajang River before he decided to choose Sibu as the new settlement for his Foochow clansmen because he found out that the area near Rajang delta would be fertile and suitable for cultivation. An agreement was signed on 9 July 1900 between Wong Nai Siong and the Brooke government in Kuching in order to allow Chinese settlers into the area.
On 21 January 1901, first batch of 72 settlers arrived at Sibu and settled at the Sungai Merah area, about 6 km from the Sibu town at that time. On 16 March 1901, second batch of 535 settlers arrived. This day has been referred as the "New Foochow Resettlement Day". In June 1901, final batch of 511 settlers arrived in Sibu. Sibu has been referred popularly as "New Foochow" (新福州) since then. Wong Nai Siong was appointed as "Kang Choo" (港主), meaning "port master" for the Foochow settlement in Sibu. The settlers planted sweet potatoes, fruits, sugar cane, vegetables, and coarse grains at high grounds and rice in wetlands. After working in Sibu, nearly all the settlers choose to stay and called the place as their new home. Together with American pastor, Reverend James Matthew Hoover, Wong was also involved in the building of schools and churches in Sibu such as Methodist church in 1902 and Ying Hua Methodist school at Sungai Merah in 1903. From 1903 to 1935, James Hoover had helped to build a total of 41 churches and 40 schools in Sibu. Later between 1902 and 1917, 676 Cantonese (广州) people arrived in Sibu.
In 1904, Wong opposed the sale of opium and the building of casino in the Sibu area, proposed by the Brooke government. He was later expelled by the Sarawak government due to bad debt payment. Wong and his family left Sibu in mid-July 1904. Rev. James Hoover took over Wong's role and he continued to manage the Sibu settlement. He introduced the first rubber seedlings to Sibu in 1904. He built the original Methodist church in 1905. The church was later renamed to Masland Methodist church in 1925. Hoover stayed at the Rajang basin for another 31 years until his death in 1935 at Kuching general hospital due to malaria infection.
By 1919, the influence of Chinese Civil War has spread to Sarawak with Kuomintang set up its first branches in Sibu and Kuching. Charles Brooke opposed such political activity by the local Chinese and had expelled several local Kuomintang leaders. However, Charles Vyner Brooke was more receptive of such activities by local Chinese. The local Chinese also participated in a donation drive in order to aid Kuomintang in its fight against Japanese invasion on China mainland. After the World War II ended, local Kuomintang leaders supported the cessation of Sarawak to British as Crown Colony but the local communist leaders were against it. Clashes between the communist and the Kuomintang supporters were common. The Kuomintang branches in Sarawak were finally dissolved in 1949 when the party lost its war on China mainland to Communist party and retreated to Taiwan. However, clashes between the both sides continued until 1955 when Kuomintang's newspaper was banned by the colonial British government in May 1951 while Communist's newspapar ceased to exist in 1955 due to financial difficulties.
The Japanese forces landed in Miri on 16 December 1941. Kuching was conquered by Japanese forces on 24 December 1941. On Christmas day 1941, Sibu was bombed by 9 Japanese airplanes flown from Kuching. The Resident of Third Division, Andrew Macpherson believed that the Japanese will start to invade Sibu following the air attack. He and his officer later fled Sibu to the upstream of Rajang River. They planned to pass through Kapit and trek through the forests in order to reach Dutch-held territory of Kalimantan, Indonesia. However, they were caught and killed by the Japanese at Ulu Moyan, Sarawak.
In the evening of 26 December 1941, Sibu people started to ransack an unguarded government rice storeroom. Some villagers staying along the Rajang River also came to steal for daily necessities. The situation soon gone out of control. British Sime Darby company, Borneo Co. Ltd, and Chinese businessmen became the victims of the riots. The Chinese businessman decided to form a security alliance in order to calm down the chaos. On 29 January 1942, a Japanese advance team was invited from Kuching in order to restore order in Sibu. The advance team later fled Sibu and back to Kuching. The power vacuum continue to exist in the third division until 23 June 1942, when the Japanese headquarter in Kuching sent Senda-Ni-Jiro (千田倪次郎) to become the new Resident of the Third Division of Sarawak. After he took office, he immediately declared that Imperial Japanese Army will take total control of people's lives and property. On 8 August 1942, Sibu was renamed to "Sibu-shu" (志布州).
The Japanese started to impose expensive taxes on Chinese people. The Japanese also started Sook Ching operation (肃清行动) on suspected anti-Japanese individuals. Under extreme torture, some Chinese individuals gave a false name-list of anti-Japanese groups. Such name-list would later led to death of innocent individuals at Bukit Lima execution ground while some individuals were sent to a prison at Kapit.
British Crown Colony
After the Japanese occupation of Sarawak ended in 1945, the last Rajah of Sarawak, Charles Vyner Brooke, decided to cede the state as part of the British crown colony. Such proposal had met with fierce opposition from the Sarawakians which later developed into Anti-cession movement of Sarawak. Rosli Dhoby was a Sarawak nationalist from Sibu. He was a member of Malay Youth Movement (Gerakan Pemuda Melayu) where the main objective of the movement was to achieve Sarawak independence from the British rule. At the age of 17 years old, he assassinated Sir Duncan George Stewart, the second governor of colonial Sarawak on 3 December 1949. He and his 3 other friends were then sentenced to death by hanging and were buried at the Kuching Central Prison on 2 March 1950.
After 46 years, his remains was moved from the Kuching Central Prison and buried at the Sarawak Heroes Mausoleum near Sibu Town Mosque on 2 March 1996. In order to honour his involvement in the anti-colonial movement against the British, he and his associates who were involved in the assassination (Awang Ramli Amit, Bujang Suntong, and Morshidi Sidek) were later given a full state funeral by Sarawak state government.
After the defeat of Kuomintang at mainland China in 1949, local communist members (majority were Chinese) started to establish themselves in Sarawak in early 1950s. Huang Sheng Zi (黄声梓) from Sibu became the president of Borneo Communist Party (BCP). BCP activities mostly concentrated in Sibu, Sarikei, and Bintangor. His brother, Huang Zeng Ting (黄增霆), who was also a communist, played an important role in the formation of first political party in Sarawak, Sarawak United Peoples' Party (SUPP) and became the party's first executive secretary. Sarawak Liberation League (SLL) was formed in 1954 following the consolidation of BCP with several other communist organisations.
The expansion of communists in Sibu relied heavily on student movements in several schools such as Chung Hua secondary school (中华中学), Catholic secondary school (公教中学), and Wong Nai Siong seconday school (黄乃裳中学). Some of the communist strong points in Sibu were at Oya road and Queensway (now Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg). The movement was also supported by the intelligentsia and workers in Sibu. For example, Dr Wong Soon Kai (黄顺开医生), who would later became the deputy chief minister of Sarawak in 1990, supported the movement by supplying free medications. On 30 March 1971, the communists launched anti-porn movement. In early 1973, they launched another campaign which focus on anti-tax increase, anti-price hike while supporting an increase in workers' wages. Some of the communist volunteers would start to distribute pamplets at shophouses, schools, and wharf terminal. The group also started military operation against police stations and naval bases.
On 25 March 1973, the Sarawak government, led by chief minister Abdul Rahman Ya'kub started to clamp down on communist activities at the Rajang basin by setting up "Rajang Special Security Area". A day later, Rajang Security Command (RASCOM) was formed as a result of cooperation of civil, military, and police command headquarters. By August 1973, several communist members were captured by the government. The captured members provided crucial details for the government to further impair the communist movement. On 22 September 1973, Abdul Rahman started "Operation Judas". A total of 29 people from Sibu town were captured. Among those captured were doctors, lawyers, businessmen, teachers, and one former member of parliament. Following the surrender of a communist movement in Sri Aman on 21 October 1973, the communist activities at Rajang basin began to subside and would not be able to recover to its previous strength. Communist movement of Sarawak finally ended in 1990.
On 1 November 1981, the local authority which administered Sibu town (Sibu Urban District Council) was upgraded to Sibu Municipal Council. The area of administration of Sibu town expanded from 50 km2 to present day 129.5 km2. In 1994, new Sibu Airport and Sibu Hospital were constructed. In 2001, Wisma Sanyan contruction was completed. Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah visited the Sibu town from 16 to 17 September 2001 in order to close a-month-long Malaysian Independence Day Celebration at Sibu Town Square. In 2006, the Lanang Bridge connecting Sibu to Sarikei was opened. Sibu is also functioning as the gateway to Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). The Sibu town and its surrounding areas has been the subject of several developmental projects since 2008.
Sibu has 2 members of parliament representing the 2 parliamentary constituencies of the town: Lanang (P.211) and Sibu (P.212). The town also elects 5 representatives into the Sarawak State Asssembly namely Bukit Assek, Dudong, Bawang Assan, Pelawan, and Nangka.
A local authority was first set up in Sibu on 31 January 1925 during the era of Brooke administration. It was later upgraded to Sibu Urban District Council (SUDC) in 1952. After 29 years of administration, SUDC was upgraded to Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) on 1 November 1981. SMC currently administers the town with a jurisdiction area of 129.5 km2 from the banks of Rajang River to Salim road uptown. SUDC and SMC headquarters were housed inside the Sibu Town Hall for 38 years from 1962 to 2000. SMC headquarters was later relocated to Wisma Sanyan in 2001. The current chairman of SMC is Tiong Thai King. Meanwhile, the outskirts of Sibu town such as Sibu Jaya and Selangau District is administered by Sibu Rural District Council (SRDC) covering a total area of 6,000 km2. SRDC headquarters is also located inside the Wisma Sanyan tower.
Sibu town is located near the Rajang delta at the confluence of Rajang and Igan rivers. Peat swamp forests and alluvial plains are particularly prevalent in the Sibu Division. The Sibu town is located on a deep peat soil. This has caused problems in infrastructure development because buildings and roads will slowly sink into the ground after its construction completion. The location of Sibu in lowland peat swamps have subjected it to frequent floods which was about 1 to 3 times per year. Therefore, Sibu Flood Mitigation project was started to relieve the area from the floods.
Sibu has tropical rainforest climate according to Köppen climate classification. The Sibu town has high temperatures of 30–33 °C (86–91 °F) and low temperatures of 22.5–23 °C (72.5–73.4 °F). Annual rainfall is approximately 3,200 millimetres (130 in). with relative humidity between 80 to 87%. Sibu receives between 4 to 5 hours of sunlight per day with yearly average daily values of global solar radiation of 15.2 MJ/m2. Cloud cover over Sibu is reduced during the mid-year (6.75 Oktas) while increased at the end-of-year and early-year (7 Oktas).
|Climate data for Sibu (1971–2000)|
|Average high °C (°F)||30.6
|Average low °C (°F)||22.6
|Rainfall mm (inches)||368.3
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)||19||15||17||16||15||12||12||14||16||18||19||20||193|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||129.4||133.1||151.4||175.4||193.2||189.9||197.3||180.9||151.2||165.9||162.7||147.5||1,977.9|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organisation|
|Source #2: NOAA (sun, 1971–1990)|
The growth of Sibu town population over the years is shown below:
Year 1947 1960 1970 1980 1991 2000 2010 Total
9,983 29,630 50,635 85,231 133,479 166,322 162,676
According to 2010 Malaysian census, Sibu town (excluding suburban area) has a total population 162,676. Chinese (63.4%, 101,019) is the largest ethnic group in the Sibu town, followed by indigenous people (35.7%, 56,949), Indians (0.5%, 598), and non-Malaysians (3,236). Among the indigenous tribes, there are Iban (26,777), Malays (16,646), Melanau (10,028), Bidayuh (1,337), and other indigenous tribes (874). Majority of the non-Malaysians are Indonesian workers employed at plywood and sawmills factories. There are also a number of illegal workers employed by syndicates to tap rubber. A number of foreign Chinese nationals and Indonesians are also working in massage parlours.
Since the majority of the town population is made up of Foochow and Hokkien Chinese, languages of Mandarin Chinese, Fuzhou dialect and Hokkien dialect are commonly spoken. Majority of Sibu Chinese are multilingual and they are able to speak Malay language and English language also.
Majority of Chinese population in Sibu are Christians while other Chinese practices Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. The Malays and the Melanaus are devoted to Islamic religion. Respective religious groups are free to hold their processions in the Sibu town. Several notable religious buildings in Sibu town are Sacred Heart Cathedral, Masland Methodist Church, Tua Pek Kong Temple, and An-Nur Mosque.
In the early days, Chinese Foochow settlers in Sibu tried to convert the town into a rice cultivation centre. However, this vision did not materialise because the soil was not suitable for rice cultivation. In August 1909, Charles Brooke agreed to grant land titles to Sibu Chinese farmers and encouraged them to cultivate rubber plantations. The rise of rubber prices from 1909 to 1911 had encouraged another 2,000 Foochow settlers into Sibu. The demand for rubber rose again during Korean War between 1950 to 1953 and has benefited Sibu rubber plantations. Local farmers later used the profits from rubber plantations into setting up shops at Sungai Merah and Durin bazaars and involve in more profitable timber industry. During the Sarawak Communist Insurgency in the 1970s, rural farmers had to abandon their rubber plantations because of martial law declared by the state government which forbid them for helping the communists operating in the jungles.
The timber industry in Sibu flourished during 1940s and 1950s and its economic importance surpassed rubber plantations in 1960s. Some of the global timber conglomerates such as Rimbunan Hijau Group, Ta Ann Holdings Berhad, Sanyan Group, WTK, The Sarawak Company, and Asia Plywood Company set up their headquarters here. Timber processing and exports become the main economic driving force in Sibu. The development of timber industry in Sibu has been supported by loans given by the earliest Chinese banks in Sibu such as Wah Tat Bank (1929), Hock Hua Bank (1952), and Kong Ming Bank (1965). Following the introduction of "Banking and Financial Institutions Act of 1989" (BAFIA) by the Malaysian federal government, Kong Ming Bank was acquired by EON Bank in 1992, followed by merger of Wah Tat Bank with Hong Leong Bank and merger of Hock Hua Bank with Public Bank Berhad in the year 2000. In 1958, HSBC started its banking operation in Kuching, followed by Sibu in 1959. It was responsible for supporting several timber conglomerates in Sibu such as WTK and Ta Ann Holdings Berhad. In November 2013, HSBC decided to close down all its commercial banking sectors in Sarawak after the bank was alleged for supporting non-sustainable logging operations in Sarawak.
Ship-building business in Sibu started in the 1930s in order to supply wooden boats for river and coastal navigation. It flourished in 1970s and 1980s along with increase in exports of tropical timber from Sarawak. It later shifted its focus into steel boat building. Some of the vessels in demand are tug boats for towing logs, barges for carrying logs, anchor handlers, Offshore Support Vessels (OSV), ferries, and express boats for carrying passengers. Most of the boats built are of small and medium in size. There are a total of 40 shipyards in Sibu. Majority of the workers are welders. In 2003, 17 of the shipyards were relocated to Rantau Panjang Integrated Shipyard Shipbuilding Industrial Zone, Sibu. Some of the notable shipyards are Yong Chin Kui, Far East, and TuongAik. The boats built in Sibu are often exported to neighbouring state of Sabah, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and United Arab Emirates. In the year 1991, a total of US$ 50 million was earned for ship-building business in Sibu. In 2011, Sibu ship exports stood at RM 525 million.
There are two river ports at Sibu namely Sibu port and Sungai Merah port, located at 113 km and 116 km (along the course of navigable river) respectively from the mouth of Rajang river. Sibu port has maximum Gross register tonnage (GRT) of 10,000 tonnes while Sungai Merah port has maximum GRT of 2,500 tonnes. Sibu port is used mainly for handling timber and agricultural products while Sungai Merah port is used for handling fuel oil products. Rajang Port Authority (RPA) is located at Sibu port operation centre. RPA has earned a total revenue of RM 30.1 million for the financial year of 2012.
Roads in Sibu are under the jurisdiction of Sibu Municipal Council (SMC). Some of the notable roads in Sibu are Brooke Drive, Jalan Archer, and Jalan Wong Nai Siong. Kwong Ann roundabout is located near Brooke Drive in town centre while Bukit Lima roundabout is located near Jalan Wong King Huo in the uptown area. Sibu is also connected to other major towns and cities in Sarawak by Pan Borneo Highway. In early 2011, Sibu-Tanjung Manis Highway was opened. In April 2006, Lanang Bridge connecting Sibu to Sarikei and Bintangor across the Rajang River was opened. Toll-free Durin Bridge was opened in October 2006 connecting Sibu to other places such as Julau. The Durin bridge is located near the satellite township of Sibu Jaya.
Sibu town has two bus stations. The local bus station is located at the waterfront near the Sibu wharf terminal. The long-distance bus station is located at Jalan Pahlawan, near the Sungai Antu region. Jaya Li Hua Commercial Centre and Medan Hotel are located next to the long-distance bus station. The local bus station at the waterfront serves the Sibu town area, Sibu Airport, Sibu Jaya, Kanowit, and Sarikei. Lanang Bus serves the connection between the local bus station and the long-distance bus station while Panduan Hemat buses serves Sibu Airport and satellite township of Sibu Jaya. On the other hand, the long-distance bus station serves Kuching, Bintulu, and Miri via the Pan Borneo Highway. Some of the buses serving at the long-distance bus station are Biaramas, Suria Bus, and Borneo Highway Express.
Taxis in Sibu operates 24 hours a day. Most of the taxis here do not use meters. Taxis can be found at the airport, big hotels, taxi stands at the wharf terminal, and at Jalan Lintang. Taxi services are also offered for travel to nearby regions such as Mukah, Bawang Assan, Sarikei, and Bintangor. Kong Teck car rental is available at the airport.
Sibu wharf terminal is located at Jalan Kho Peng Long near the Rajang river waterfront. It provides an alternative means of transport for the people living along the Rajang River. Among the destinations that can be reached by express boats from Sibu includes Belaga, Dalat, Daro, Kapit, Kanowit, Kuching, Sarikei, and Song.
The current Sibu Airport was built in 1994, located at 25 km from the Sibu town and 1 km from the satellite township of Sibu Jaya. In 2008, the airport handled 831,772 passengers on 14,672 flights and 735 metric tonnes of cargo. In April 2010, the airport was allocated RM130 million by the Malaysian federal govenment for the upgrade of the terminal building. The airport terminal building is the second largest in Sarawak after the Kuching International Airport. The airport has a 2.75 km runway and it currently serves Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia, and MASWings with direct flights to all major towns in Sarawak, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, and Johor Bahru. In October 2011, Firefly airline terminated its services in Sarawak while Malindo Air terminated its services to Sibu Airport in June 2014 due to low number of passengers.
Courts of law, legal enforcement, and crime
The current court complex is located at Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, Sibu. It contains the High Court, Sessions Court, and the Magistrate Court. The Sibu town also has a Syariah Court located at Jalan Kampung Nyabor with area of jurisdiction of Sibu, Kanowit and Selangau districts. There is one district police headquarters at Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg. The Sibu central police station is located at Jalan Kampung Nyabor. Sungai Merah police station and Lanang police station are also located in Sibu town area. There is also a prison in Sibu.
There were 2,469 criminal cases in Sibu in 2005 and 2,861 cases in 2006. Tiong King Sing, an MP from Bintulu, has voiced concerns about gangsterism in Sarawak especially the Sibu town back in 2007. As a result, "Operation Cantas Kenyalang" was started in 2008 in order to clamp down gangsterism in Sarawak. Alleged gang leader nicknamed "Lee Long" (李龙) and his 7 friends were charged in Sibu Sessions Court. However, they were acquitted in March 2011 due to insufficient evidence and discrepancies of the testimonies given by the victims. An appeal was later made against the decision of the court. In September 2013, Sibu police chief announced that "Lee Long", "Sungai Merah", and "Tua Chak Lee" gangs ceased to exist and Sibu town is free from organised gangsterism. There were 25 gangster groups in Sibu back in 2007 but it is reduced now to 7. In September 2014, Royal Malaysian Police headquarter at Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur, stated that 16 local gangster groups are still active in Sarawak especially in Sibu but they do not pose any serious security threats. This raised new concerns that such groups still pose a serious security risk in Sibu town and Sarawak in general.
Healthcare needs of Sibu people are served by Sibu Hospital. It is the second largest hospital in Sarawak and the secondary referral hospital for the central region of Sarawak which includes 5 divisions: Sibu, Kapit, Mukah, Sarikei, and Betong divisions. There are 8 district hospitals in these divisions that are referred to Sibu. Sibu Hospital is also a teaching hospital for undergraduates from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). There are also two private medical centres in Sibu namely Sibu Specialist Medical Centre and Rejang Medical Centre.
The primary healthcare needs of Sibu are served by Lanang and Oya Polyclinics. There are also five 1Malaysia clinics in Sibu. The Bandong 1Malaysia clinic became the first 1Malaysia Clinic nationwide to offer echocardiography screening. There are also several pharmacy outlets in Sibu namely B Y Chan pharmacy, Central Pharmacy, and Cosway Pharmacy.
Sibu has about 85 primary schools and 23 secondary schools. All the Sibu primary and secondary schools under National Education System are managed by Sibu District Education Office located at Brooke Drive, Sibu. Some of the Chinese primary schools in Sibu include SJK (C) Tung Hua, SJK (C) Chung Sing, and SJK (C) Methodist. Some of the national schools include: SK Sacred Heart English, SK Bandaran Sibu No.3, and SK Agama Sibu. Some of the secondary schools are SMK Methodist, SMK Sacred Heart, and SMK Chung Hua. Sibu has 5 out of 14 Chinese independent schools in Sarawak. These are Catholic High School (公教中学), Wong Nai Siong High School (黄乃裳中学), Citizen Middle School (公民中学), Guong Ming Middle School (光民中学), and Kiang Hin Middle School (建兴中学). All the Chinese independent schools in Sibu are under the purview of The United Association of Private Chinese Secondary School, Sibu Division. which is in turn under purview of Sarawak Dong Zong and Dong Zong headquarters in Selangor. All the Chinese independent schools students will sit for Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) which is different from Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). In 2013, Woodlands International School opened in Sibu offering Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) course.
In 1997, United College Sarawak (UCS) was established in Sibu at Jalan Teku. It was renamed to Kolej Laila Taib (KLT) in 2010. This college offers business, accounting, and engineering courses. University College of Technology Sarawak, located just opposite the KLT, commenced its maiden intake of new undergraduate students in September 2013. This university is established to provide human capital for the development of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). In 1967, Pilley Memorial Secondary School was established in Sibu. In April 1991, the school was upgraded to Methodist Pilley Institute (MPI) and it started to offer accounting, business management, and computer science courses.
Sarawak Maritime Academy was formed under the Shin Yang Group of Companies. It offers Diploma in Nautical (DNS) and Diploma in Marine Engineering courses. Sacred Heart College started to offer Diploma in Hotel Management course in 2010. Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Academy was established in 2005 and it started to offer training in automotive, oil palm plantations, hospitality, and business management courses in 2007. Sibu Nursing College and ITA college offers nursing-related programmes. On 2 February 2013, ITA College held the Malaysian Book of Records of longest anatomy quiz competition for 12 hours. Long distances study centres (Pendidikan Jarak Jauh, PJJ) in Sibu are opened by Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) at Lanang and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) at Sibu Jaya. Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) opened its Centre for Academic Information Services (CAIS) - Integrated Learning Facilities (ILF) at Sibu for undergraduate medical students undergoing their training at Sibu Hospital. Open University Malaysia (OUM) also opens a Sibu Learning Centre.
The first public library in Sibu was started as Methodist Missionary Library in 1950s. It was taken over by Sibu Urban District Council (SUDC) in 1955. It was moved to the present location at Keranji road in 1986. The library underwent a major upgrade in 2014. Another public library named "Ling Zi Ming Cultural centre" (林子明文化館) was established by local Chinese community under the Sibu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI, 詩巫中華總商會) in 1980. It houses Chinese books collection. Another library named Sibu Jaya public library is located at the satellite township of Sibu Jaya, 25 km from the Sibu town.
Culture and leisure
Attractions and recreational spots
Year 2009 was declared as 'Visit Sibu Year 2009', to boost the tourism industry in the central region. A new attraction is Pandaw River Cruise, which was started on 1 July 2009. This is a nine-day cruising up the Rajang river deep into the Pelagus Rapids Resort in the rural interior of Sarawak with Sibu Express Wharf Terminal as the first stop. The tourists in the cruise can enjoy the scenery of the tropical rainforest as well as visiting traditional and modern longhouses. However,In March 2012,the river cruise ceased its operations due to poor respond and also high operating costs.
The Sibu International Dance Festival was privately debuted in 2012, and will be held from 13 to 17 August 2013. 14 international dance groups will participate in the 2013 edition of the festival, attracting groups from Lithuania, Southern Thailand, Singapore and local groups. Indoor and outdoor performances will be held throughout the festival.
A trip to the Sibu area is incomplete without taking the opportunity to visit Rumah Panjai or Iban Longhouse. Although the Ibans in the Sibu area are modern people who have fully embraced the 21st century, they still practise many traditional customs and retain their adat or traditional law.
Upon arrival to longhouse, the ibans will usually welcome their guests with Tuak (Traditional Iban Rice Wine). Visitors may try their hands at shooting with a blowpipe, weaving a Pua Kumbu, feasting on traditional Iban pastries such as Chuan and Sarang Semut, enjoy and experience the longhouse environment and the scenery of vast paddy field and the Mighty Rajang River.
The Ibans are a warm and hospitable people, and this hospitality, coupled with their rich and colourful customs and traditions, can be a memorable experience.
Sibu is rich in Chinese cultural attractions, especially those of the Foochow community.
Sibu Gateway, which is located on Pedada Road and Kampung Nyabor Road, houses displays of the twelve Chinese zodiac animals.
The Sungai Merah Heritage Walk is a landscaped park situated in a township called Sungai Merah where the earliest Foochow settlers first landed when they arrived in 1902. The Foochow Centennial Celebration Building commemorates 100 years of Foochow immigration to Sibu.
The United Chinese Association (UCA)(华团) Sibu holds its pride for hosting the 18th and the 26th National Chinese Cultural Festival. The cultural festival has always been officiated by the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Cultural village and the Lantern Riddles are among the activities organised during the festival.
Sibu played host to the Borneo Cultural Festival, a week-long celebration of food, music, and dances celebrating the diverse cultural background of the town in 2005. Since then, it has become an annual occasion and a trademark of Sibu.However,for the first time ever since the creation,it will not be held in 2011;which caused waves of protests from locals,including key players in Sibu Tourism Industry.However,Sibu Municipal Council announced that 2011 BCF is postponed to 2012,after discussion with State Government.And in 2012,BCF was held from 6 June to 15 July 2012.
Kampung Bandong - Located in middle of Sibu town,Kampung Bandong has become a stopover for a variety of activities.A lively village with its famous seasonal kite tournament or gudi ;pronunciation: [ˈguˈD] also known as "Bersaok"."Pasa Bandong" is the center where all the business come to do business at night. Covers from traditional Malay cuisine to Chinese cuisine,all can be found "halal" here. Kampung Bandong is the most important location during the election and has always been the focus of politicians from both sides in Sibu. An uplift project for the Bandong area was proposed in 2012, and it is set to became a reality in 2015.
Leisure and conservation areas
The annual event is held at Wisma Sanyan,Sarawak's highest building since 2009. The event is organised by Sibu Tourism Task Force Group with technical support by BASE Jumper from Australia and Malaysia. For the 2014 edition, the event was held on 20 and 21 September 2014 and participated by 45 BASE jumpers.
Now entering its fourth edition in 2014, It has attracted numbers of bikers from Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Phillipines and as far as Germany, Australia and USA.
Sibu has a few urban and suburban parks for the leisure activities of locals and tourists. Gu Tian Park is a landscaped park situated at Bukit Lima Road. It was built by the Gu Tian(古田)Community. Another park is Hoover Park, a suburban park built by Methodist Church, Sibu and to be maintained by the town council. Being near Sungai Merah Heritage Walk, there are plans to integrate it into one tourist destination in the future.
Sibu also has forest parks such as Bukit Lima Forest Park and Forestry Recreation Park. Bukit Lima Forest Park has a 2 km plankwalk, which is ideal for jogging. The Forestry Recreation Park which covers 200 hectares of land at 18.5 km Ulu Oya Road, is managed by the Forestry Department. The park's facilities include a camping site, a 30-metre watch-tower, a cattle and deer farm, and a huge fish pond. A major attraction to be included soon is a butterfly farm.
Bukit Aup Jubilee Park, located twenty minutes from Sibu town is a popular spot for sight-seeing, picnics, jogging and relaxing. The road to Bukit Aup Jubilee Park is tar sealed which is located less than 12 km from Sibu town. It has scenic views of the town, rivers and forests. The total undulating land for development is more than 200 acres (0.81 km2). Currently two phases have been completed comprising an observation tower, suspension bridge, sky steps, a pavilion, an amphitheatre, a children's playground, a lagoon, a canteen and other buildings. This is a special place for Sibu people to relax and get away from the hectic town life.
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Sibu features a number of shopping malls namely: Wisma Sanyan, Medan Mall, Sing Kwong Shopping Complex, Farley Departmental Store, Delta Mall, Star Mega Mall,and Giant Hypermarket.
The Pasar Malam (Night Market) is situated in the town centre. Local traders will usually set up their mobile stalls at around 7 pm-11 pm. Items on display are general Malay and Chinese delicacies, clothing, daily necessities, handicrafts and others. The vibrant Night Market sets up every afternoon around 5pm and operates until 10pm or sometimes later. The stalls offer all manners of household goods, footwear, fashion items, and all varieties of food. Even the Prime Minister made a brief visit here on 5 July 2009, as he was attending the launch of 6th Tionghua Cultural Festival, in conjunction of Borneo Cultural Festival 2009.
The Central Market is the biggest indoor market in Malaysia. It is home to thousands of stalls selling everything from fresh vegetables and fruits to live poultry. 23 February was an historic moment for the Central Market, as the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak made a brief visit to the Central Market, before returning to Kuala Lumpur on the same day. There are 2 photographs of his visit to the Central Market on PM's official Facebook page.
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Sibu faces a number of economic developmental issues. There is serious income inequality in the town. The situation is not aided by the level of corruption present, which often extends into the corridors of power as is often the case in Malaysia.
Sibu has fallen behind its regional rivals, Kuching, Miri and Bintulu, in its level of economic development and from an aesthetic point of view. Sibu does not appear to be attracting major state support in terms of development. Kuching has developed a major regional airport with the aim of becoming a gateway for international tourism into the Sarawak and Borneo regions but Sibu's airport is still run-down. It is likely that the state authorities do not see much potential in Sibu for future development and progression.
As Sibu now has an airport under reconstruction, the potential for development remains to be seen as the new airport and state sponsored activities attempt to capture a piece of the action going on around Sarawak.
There have been regular floods in Sibu, especially at Hua Kiew Road, (华侨路）in Bukit Assek state constituency. The flooding caused many problems for the Sibu-siders; many residents have moved to other areas while others have had no choice but to endure the situation. However, the Sibu flood mitigation project has been underway at Hua Kiew Road and Bandong, to solve the flooding problems in the area. The Mitigation project at Bandong area is expected to be completed in July 2010.
There has been a marked increase in public buildings in recent years. Sibu now boasts the largest town square in Malaysia, and the tallest building in Sarawak - the Sanyan Tower (三洋大厦，"Wisma Sanyan" in the official Malay language), a newly refurbished waterfront and a large number of public parks. In 2010,Sarawak Government had announced that Sibu will have its own Sarawak Islamic Complex Building,the second in the state after Kuching,and the grand opening was made on 22 September 2014.
The first highrise building in Sibu was the Sarawak House hotel and shopping complex, built in the early 1970s by a group of local businessmen. Among the interesting landmarks in Sibu are Wisma Sanyan, a 28-storey building, which is the tallest building in Sarawak (to be surpassed by Kuching Tower soon), Tua Pek Kong Temple and the Central Market. The completion of RH Hotel and the current Kingwood Hotel expansion project are to meet the tourism aspiration of the town. An 18-storey building (the right model in the picture) was constructed next to the original site of the hotel. The Civic Centre Museum (its official name was Dewan Kebudayaan dan Warisan;Cultural & Heritage Hall in English) had a display of Sibu's history, and Melanau, Iban, Malay, and Chinese artefacts and has been relocated to the new Sibu Cultural & Heritage Centre. The YMCA Resort is an outskirts resort getaway for camping and retreat. Another landmark is Old Sibu Municipal Council building, where formerly housed the Sibu Municipal Council Office and Public Library (before moving to its current building at Jalan Keranji in 1986) is now known as Sibu Heritage Centre (SHC) which houses the exhibits previously exhibited at the Civic Centre Museum. The Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum is the first medical museum in Malaysia, one of the oldest hospitals in Sarawak. It exhibits medical equipment and uniforms used by medical staffs at Lau King Howe Hospital.
Accommodation in Sibu ranges from budget hotels to luxurious hotels. Below are the star-rated hotels in Sibu.
- RH Hotel (4 star)
- Kingwood Hotel (4 star)
- Premier Hotel (3 star)
- Tanahmas Hotel (3 star)
- Paramount Hotel (3 star)
- Kawan Hotel (3 star)
- The Orchid Hotel (2 star)
- Garden Hotel (1 star)
New Medan Hotel (opened in 2014) New Li Hua Hotel (under construction - to be completed soon)
Sibu also provide various selection of Budget hotel around the downtown
Li Hua Island
One of the most notable, luxurious housing estate in Sibu is the Li Hua island (丽华宝岛)(Pulau Li Hua in Malay) located off the Jalan Upper Lanang, near the Upper Lanang bridge, fronting the Rajang river. The housing estate is developed by Hock Peng Organisation. The house owners on the island have the leasehold term of 99 years, which will expire on 17 October 2098. One of the mansions on the island was the temporary residence for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah during His Majesty's visit to Sibu in 2001, but now the mansion is abandoned, and grass had grown tall. The estate is planned to include various accommodations and facilities such as hotels, yacht club, arcade shops, banks and esplanade park.
Sibu Jaya, located 25 km away, is being developed as a satellite town. Sibu Airport, built during World War II, was relocated to its present site 23 kilometres from town near Sibu Jaya in 1994. It has low cost housing area with estimated population around 40,000 with 6500 units of properties (include different types of houses and flats catering to the lower and middle income groups plus 165 shoplots and 179 industrial lots)
Sibu is known for its delicious and affordable local cuisine. The more famous dishes include: (note: the names are rendered in the Fuzhou dialect, which is often radically different from Standard Chinese.)
- "Kam Pua" noodle (干盘面) (kampua) - noodles tossed in pork lard or vegetable oil, fried shallots, spring onions and sometimes soy sauce and/or chili sauce. It is available at almost all coffee shops and food stalls. The taste for "gam mua" differs from person to person. Popular establishments serving good "gam mua" include Aloha Cafe (town centre), Rasa Sayang (new bus terminal) and a hawker stall above Central Market (at night), among others. The most delicious one will be at Palace Cafe (皇宫茶室)，located just beside the Eight-Corner Malay Stalls (八角亭)，behind Premier Hotel. Even 'Halal' (food prepared according to Muslim rites) "gam mua" is also available as well.
- "Duёng Mian Ngu"(鼎边糊) (Dian Mian Hu)- a savoury soup with soft rice cake is available at several stalls as a hefty breakfast or a late night supper. It is often served with fish balls and squid. A popular joint is in an alleyway by Jalan Blacksmith.
- "Bian Nyuk"(扁肉, also called wonton, 雲吞) - a meat dumpling which can be served dry or in a soup. Stalls serving good "gam mua"
- "Gom bian" (光饼) (or Kompia)- a Foochow delicacy made with flour, baked in an oven and eaten either with or without meat and a special gravy. It is somewhat similar to a bagel. However, it can be either in a crisp or soft version. Nice traditional soft kompia dipped in pork sauce can be sought from Chung Hua road and the Sunday Market at Pedada road. There are deep fried variations available throughout Sibu town. It's a hit not just for Chinese, but Malay and Iban community as well. There's a shop sells only the non-filling version of it, which is Seng Kee, located at Market Road and its branch at Workshop Road.
- "You Zhar Gui" (油炸桧, also called 油條 in Chinese)(Yau Char Kway, pronounced as Kueh Cakoi in Malay) - deep fried twin dough batter often dipped in soup or chili sauce. It is also a great with porridge or "Bak Kut Teh（肉骨茶）"
- "Bek Ding Yuok" (八珍药 in Chinese)(or pek ting ngor): The soup of eight essences - nice, sweet, tasty and nutritious Chinese soup made of at least eight types of Chinese herbal materials.
- "Rojak Kassim": Indian-style rojak (known as pasembur or Mamak Rojak). Back then, the owner itself (Hj.Kassim) used to sell it at a coffee shop located at Jalan Morshidi Sidek, Now the business entity is just named "ROJAK" at Popular Cafe, opposite Star Cineplex.The business had been taken over by Hj.Kassim's Ex-daughter in law.
Notable figures from Sibu
- Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng, 3rd and 6th Governor of Sarawak.
- Late Tun Datuk Patinggi Ahmad Zaidi Adruce, 5th Governor of Sarawak.
- Late Tun Datuk Patinggi Tuanku Bujang Tuanku Othman, 2nd Governor of Sarawak.
- YBhg. Tan Sri Dr.Wong Soon Kai, former Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak and former President of Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP).
- Late Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew, former Member of Parliament for Sibu and former Deputy Minister of Transport of Malaysia.
- YB Datuk Tiong Thai King, former Member of Parliament for Lanang.
- Late Wong Ho Leng, former Member of Parliament for Sibu, Sarawak State Legislative Member for Bukit Assek and former Chairman of Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP)
- YB Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Minister of Public Works and Member of Parliament for Petra Jaya, Kuching.
- YB Oscar Ling Chai Yew, current Member of Parliament for Sibu
- YB Alice Lau Kiong Yieng, current Member of Parliament for Lanang
- YBhg. Dato' Awang Bemee Awang Ali Basah, former Sarawak State Legislative Member for Nangka and former Chairman of Kuching Port Authority)
- YBhg. Vincent Goh Chung Siong, former Sarawak State Legislative Member for Pelawan and former Chairman of Rajang Port Authority.
- YB Dr.Annuar Rapaee, cardiologist and current Sarawak State Legislative Member for Nangka.
- Late Ainie Dhoby, Rosli Dhoby's younger brother and also Community Leader in 1960s.
- YBhg.Temenggung Datuk Haji Wan Hamid Edruce, Sibu Malay Community Leader.
- Tan Sri Datuk Sir Tiong Hiew King, Chairman of Rimbunan Hijau Group and elder brother of Datuk Tiong Thai King. He was listed as one of the 10 richest Malaysians and also one of the Malaysians receiving the knighthood from the British Government.
- Late Datuk Lau Hui Kang, Founder of KTS Group.
- Late Datuk Lau Hui Siong, Founder of See Hua Group.
- Late Tan Sri Tai Sing Chii, Chairman of Pan Sarawak (PANSAR) Group.
- Late Datuk Seri Wong Tuong Kwang, Founder of WTK Group and Philanthropist.
- Ting Ming Siong, a food stall operator, known as the Guinness World Record Holder for the "Most wedding attended by a best man". He attended 1,393 weddings from September 1975 to 2 February 2006)
- Gloria Ting Mei Ru, Miss Malaysia World 2004.
- Datuk Dr.Nor Daim @ Matnor Daim, former Director of Education, Malaysia and recipient of "Tokoh Kepimpinan Pendidikan Kebangsaan 2011" Award in conjunction of National Level Teachers Day 2011 in Kuching.
- Mr Chew Peng Cheng, a lawyer and one of the founders of Sibu Golf Club.
- Hazel Desmond, a RTM Newscaster.
- Andrew Nari, Malaysia Airlines Steward; Chief Steward of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which went missing on 8 March 2014.
Sibu currently has eleven twin towns:
- Hospital Sibu, the second largest hospital in Sarawak
- Roman Catholic Diocese of Sibu, a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia
- Sacred Heart Cathedral, Sibu, the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Sibu, Bishop Dominic Su
- Sibu Airport (IATA: SBW, ICAO: WBGS)
- Sibu by-election, 2010
- Sibu Division
- Sibu Town Mosque or Masjid Bandar Sibu, also known as An-Nur Mosque
- Sibu-Tanjung Manis Highway
- Tua Pek Kong Temple, Sibu, an icon of the town with its 7-storey pagoda
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