KINABATANGAN, Sept 16 — Returning the Gomantong Cave to the Orang Sungai community here, especially in Suan Lamba, Sukau and Bilit, is among the missions set by Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin if Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) received the people’s mandate in the Sept 26 state election.
He said this was because the cave’s natural products, especially as edible bird’s nests, used to be a source of revenue for the state government.
“The Gomantong Cave used to be a source or income for the people in Kinabatangan.
“Over the past 10 years, however, there was a significant decline in economic activities in Gomantong Cave, forcing the locals to move to bigger towns to find a new source of income,” he told reporters after attending the meeting with BN election machinery in Suan Lamba near here.
Bung Moktar said by returning the cave to the people here would not only help them to earn a living, but would also open up more job opportunities, especially to the local youths.
Gomantong Cave is a limestone cave inhabited by wild swiftlets whose valuable nests were harvested as nutritional food for human consumption.
The introduction of the tender system by the then state government for collecting bird’s nests from the cave, however, had denied the customary right of the Orang Sungai community.
For centuries, the Gomantong Cave has been a renowned producer of the world’s best edible birds’ nests. The cave was inherited by the Orang Sungai community through an agreement between the Buluh Upid tribe and the British North Borneo Company in 1884. — Bernama