BINTULU, June 10 ― Betong Division has a lot of potential to offer for the tourism sector which are waiting to be exploited, said Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

He said the time had now come for them to be properly identified, developed and promoted.

He made the remarks when officiating at the Betong Metro Polytechnic Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC) meeting in Kuching yesterday.

Uggah singled out Bukit Sadok, the site of the fortress of the Iban legendary hero and Sarawak nationalist Rentap, as one such potential.

“Rentap had no knowledge of any war tactic yet he had chosen the very strategic Bukit Sadok hilltop as the site for his fortress.

“The formidable fortress was only captured by Raja Charles Brooke after a third attempt in October 1861 but Rentap had managed to escape in time.

“The first and second attempts were made in 1857 and 1858 respectively,” he said.

To mark its significance, Uggah disclosed that the state government had last month approved a sum of RM15.9 million to build a replica of Rentap’s fortress together with supporting facilities in Bukit Sadok.

“This will be the best way to remember this historical site and to honour the legendary Rentap.

“This too will provide opportunities for local communities to improve their socio-economic wellbeing by promoting and engaging with their culture,” he said.

On other potential products, Uggah said these included a number of traditional longhouses, the Iban colourful culture and traditions, river and jungle treks, the many river and fish conservation programmes locally known as the ‘Tagang System’ as well as the Malay village in Spaoh which offers home stay programme.

He added an airport was also being built at Bebuling in Spaoh for both freight and passenger services.

“This and the Pan Borneo Highway will make Betong in the path of tourists,” he said.

Toward this end, Uggah expressed the hope that the Sarawak Tourism Board could lend a helping hand in identifying and giving proposals on how best to develop and promote these potentials.

Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Sharzede Datu Salleh Askor, who is also the deputy chairman of the IAC, was among those present.

Uggah said he and Layar assemblyman Datuk Gerald Rentap Jabu would give their fullest support.

On the polytechnic, they too would also give their total support to help its students excel academically.

“We will do our part to ensure the facilities needed by them and a more conducive study atmosphere are made available,” he said.

On the meeting, Uggah said it was held to help the polytechnic enhance its students’ marketability in the job market.

“For this, we are turning to our partners in the tourism and banking industries for the necessary inputs,” he said. ― Borneo Post