Bintangor, Sarawak

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Bintangor
Town
Other transcription(s)
 • Chinese民丹莪
Bintangor street view
Bintangor street view
Nickname(s): Lime town[1][note 1]
Bintangor is located in Borneo
Bintangor
Bintangor
Location in Malaysia
Coordinates: 2°9′56″N 111°38′3″E / 2.16556°N 111.63417°E / 2.16556; 111.63417Coordinates: 2°9′56″N 111°38′3″E / 2.16556°N 111.63417°E / 2.16556; 111.63417
Country Malaysia
State Sarawak
DivisionSarikei
DistrictMeradong
Time zoneUTC+08:00 (Malaysian Standard Time)
Postal code(s)96500
Area code(s)084 (landline only)
ISO 3166 codePart of MY-13
Vehicle registrationQR (for all vehicles except taxis)
HQ (for taxis only)
Websitewww.maradong-julaudc.sarawak.gov.my

Bintangor (formerly known as Binatang) is a town, and the capital of the Meradong District in Sarikei Division, of Sarawak, Malaysia situated along the Rejang River. Bintangor was an express boat services hub connecting between, Sarikei and Sibu town in the 1970s up to the early 1990s. As road connections between these towns became a more prominent mode of transport, the waterway of the town died down.

The town is widely known for its gastronomy, including the "Limau Bintangor" or Bintangor lime, "Bintangor Kampua" and Rojak Bintangor, a dish of fruit and vegetable dish mixed together by special sauce dressing. The nearest city from the town is Sibu, 45 minutes drive via the Pan Borneo Highway.

Etymology[edit]

Lime as the symbol of Bintangor.

Meradong District was initially named as Binatang district and the town as Binatang town. In Malay language, Binatang means "beast". It was said that this area was once a fertile land with various wild fruits; attracting animals to gather here and search for food. Therefore, this place was known as Binatang. However, local people later felt that the name was indecent and it was changed to Bintang (meaning "stars" in Malay). After a few years, the local authorities decided that the place name should not be changed so easily; and they reverted the name back to Binatang.[1][note 2] Finally, in 1984,[2] after a discussion with district council members, Sarawak chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud decided to change "Binatang" district into "Meradong" district and the town name to "Bintangor".[1][note 3] The name Meradong is derived from the river of the same name. The name Bintangor is derived from the name of a tree which is found on the hills.[2] The Calanolide A compound extracted from the Bintangor tree (Calophyllum lanigerum) is believed to be able to treat HIV infection.[3]

History[edit]

In 1853, James Brooke was able to take over Rajang River and its surrounding settlements from the Brunei Sultanate.[4] Before the 1900s, the population in Bintangor was spase. In 1896,[2] the Malays from Second Division (now Betong Division and Sri Aman Division) migrated here and stayed in villages with a dozen of houses near the riverside. The remaining areas were covered by forests.[1][note 4] The Malays later moved away but was then requested by Rajah Brooke stay in the southern part of Bintangor so as to protect the Chinese newcomers against other natives.[2]

People from Zhangzhou and Xiamen were the first ones to do businesses in Bintangor. There was a documentation whereby a Chinese named Huang Zhi Yun (黄志云) bought a land in Bintangor in 1908. In 1910, Ling Ming Lok(林明乐) started planting vegetables in Bintangor. He found that the area was suitable for large-scale cultivation due to sparse population and large tracts of land. Therefore, Ming Lok together with Tiong Kung Ping and Rev Yao Siew King with the encouragement from Rev James Hoover, decided to open up Bintangor for agriculture.[2] In 1917, Ming Lok invited the Chinese from Sibu to come to Bintangor.[1][note 5] They applied more lands from the Sibu Resident and his requests were granted.[1][note 6] As a result, large tracts of agricultural lands were opened for 300 Foochow families.[2] In 1922, Foochow Chinese opened the first grocery shop in Bintangor.[1][note 7] Kai Nguong Church is the first Methodist church in Bintangor.[2] In the same year, Kai Wen primary school (开文小学)was set up.[1][note 8] In 1923, the Brooke government established the "FooChow Land reclaimation and Guidance Council" to manage issues regarding the opening up of lands and disputes among the Chinese land owners.[1][note 9] At first, there was only a few tailor shops, barber shops, and coffeeshops.[2] The Chinese expanded their businesses to forestry, rice mill, and ice production. By 1937, the number of wooden shophouses in Bintangor increased to more than a dozen, however, were razed to ground by fire in the same year. The wooden shophouses were later moved to a new location. By 1948, there were 24 shophouses. These increased to 47 in 2010.[1][note 10] More schools such as Min Zhi primary school (民智小学) and Min Lu primary school (民鲁小学) were built later.[1][note 11]

Rubber plantations started to appear after 1922.[1][note 12] However, in 1929, the price of rubber was collapsing. The Brooke government started to employ Chinese workers to build roads to solve the unemployment problems due to fall in rubber price. In 1933, rubber price recovered. As of 2010, Bintangor had 10,000 acres of rubber plantations, producing 5,000 piculs every month.[1][note 13]

Government[edit]

Meradong District Council

Binatang district council was set up in the 1947. The chairman of the council was rotated between the Chinese, Malay, and Iban people. In 1997, Binatang district council was divided into Meradong district council and Julau district council.[1][note 14] Bintangor is the capital of the Meradong District in the Sarikei Division.[5]

Geography[edit]

The Meradong district is located at 78 km from the mouth of the Rajang River.[1][note 15] Meanwhile, the Bintangor town is located between the mouths of Bintangor river and Meradong river, with an area of 1.63 km2.[1][note 16] The northern part of the Meradong district is swampy with many small tributaries into the Rajang river. Majority of the Malays and the Iban people are staying in this area, with express boats as their main form of transportation. Their major economic activities are agriculture and fishing. Meanwhile, the southern part of the Meradong district are mostly hilly. Most of the Chinese are staying in the southern area where they cultivate black pepper and cocoa.[1][note 17]

Demographics[edit]

The Chinese (mostly Foochow people), Malays, and Iban people forms the majority of the ethnic groups in the Bintangor town.[1][note 18] In 1922, there were 300 people staying in Bintangor. This number increased to 2,000 people in 1930, followed by 4,000 people in 1940, and 9,000 people in 1950.[1][note 19] Majority of the Chinese people in Bintangor are Christians.[1][note 20]

Economy[edit]

Bintangor is notable for its production of green lime.

In 1927, Catholic missionary from Netherlands named Father Bergh first introduced lime to Bintangor. Ling Ming Lok was the first one who successfully cultivated the lime near the Rajang river.[1][note 21] Mass production of lime with unique taste has earned the town the nickname "lime town" (桔子城).[1][note 22] There was once a factory in Bintangor which produced the "Green Mountain" brand of lime beverages, but with the competition from the outside branded soft-drink manufacturers, the factory was closed down.[2] Rice mills and sago mills operations were the main economic activities at that time.[5]

Transport[edit]

The welcome gate of the Bintangor wharf terminal

Initially, there were only footpaths in the town. After that, local people dig up drains along the footpath.[1][note 23] Water was popular form of transport when there were no proper roads in Bintangor. Taking express boats between Sibu and Sarikei was four hours, meanwhile, it only takes one and a half hour to reach Bintangor from Sarikei.[1][note 24] The express boats carries passengers, rubber sheets, baskets of fresh fruits, and other agricultural products to Sibu while bringing canned food, beer, bottled drinks, and other sundry goods back to Bintangor.[2] The once busy Bintangor wharf became irrelevant after road connections become more advanced in the 1980s.[5] There are several bridges in Bintangor: Nyelong bridge and the Red Bridge.[2] It takes 35 minutes to drive from Sibu to Bintangor through the Lanang Bridge.[2]

Other utilities[edit]

Education[edit]

Kai Chung secondary school

Opened in 1922 above a drug store shophouse, Kai Wen primary school (开文小学) is the first school in Bintangor. At first, there were six pupils, which slowly increased to 20 pupils.[1][note 25] In 1946, the school was combined with school named China primary school (中国小学)to form Kai Chung school (开中学校). In 1982, the number of pupils totaled at 1,280.[1][note 26] In 1986, the school was officially separated into primary and secondary schools.[1][note 27]

Bintangor town has four secondary schools, SMK Meradong, SMK Bandar Bintangor, Kai Chung Secondary School and SMK Tong Hua. There are also 32 primary schools, of which 18 are national schools (SK) and 14 are national type schools (SJK(c)). Malaysian Teachers Education Institute (Malay: Institut Pendidikan Guru Malaysia) Rajang Campus is also situated at about 17 kilometres from Bintangor town.

Healthcare[edit]

Bintangor health clinic

Culture and leisure[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa 余(Yii), 悦胜(Yuk Seng) (November 2010). 泗里街省華族史料集 (Collection of historical material on the chinese community in Sarikei Division) (First ed.). Sibu, Sarawak: 砂拉越华族文化协会(Sarawak Chinese Cultural Association). ISBN 978-983-9360-49-3.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l The Borneo Post. "Bintangor — the sweet and bright pill". theborneopost.com.
  3. ^ "Calanolide a compound from Bintangor tree shows promising results in treating HIV". The Malay Mail. 25 November 2016. Archived from the original on 25 May 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  4. ^ Nicholas, Tarling (17 June 2013). Southeast Asia and the Great Powers. Routledge. p. 195. ISBN 9781135229405. Retrieved 27 April 2018. Brooke had been able to take over Rajang river in 1853, and managed to secure Mukah and surrounding rivers in 1861.
  5. ^ a b c "Bintangor town quiet after wharf destroyed". The Borneo Post. 25 June 2015. Archived from the original on 23 May 2017. Retrieved 4 June 2018.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 228
  2. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 228
  3. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 228
  4. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 230
  5. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 239
  6. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 229
  7. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 231
  8. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 231
  9. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 229
  10. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 231,234
  11. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 233
  12. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 231
  13. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 233
  14. ^ Yii, 2010. Pages 229, 236
  15. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 229
  16. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 230
  17. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 229
  18. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 229
  19. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 234, 235
  20. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 235
  21. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 239
  22. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 239
  23. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 231
  24. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 234
  25. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 242
  26. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 255
  27. ^ Yii, 2010. Page 254

External links[edit]