80ft ‘belawing’ tower makes records book

Tony (left) receives the Malaysia Book of Records Certificate from Wong as (from second left) Sharbini, Abdul Karim and Chuk witness the handover.

KUCHING: The ‘Tungun Belawing Pebeka Tawai’ of the Uma Baha community in Apau Koyan Belaga has set a new record in the Malaysia Book of Records (MBOR) as the tallest Belawing Tower in Malaysia.

The record-breaking entry was delivered in partnership with Sarawak Energy as part of the corporation’s continuing support for the Bakun Resettlement community of Apau Koyan who were relocated from their original villages upstream of the Balui River to make way for the Bakun hydropower project.

The Bakun HEP, Southeast Asia’s joint largest hydropower plant, was acquired by Sarawak Energy in 2017 from Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance. Since then, the energy developer has intensified its social investments for the relocated community.

The event to commemorate the record-breaking tower was held in conjunction with the Apau Koyan Festival held recently. Both events aimed to promote Sarawak’s indigenous cultural identity and were primarily funded by Sarawak Energy.

Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah officiated
at the event, witnessed by over 500 villagers from Apau Koyan.

Other guests were Utilities Sarawak (Rural Electricity) Assistant Minister Datuk Liwan Lagang,  Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak and Murum assemblyman Kennedy Chuk Pai Ugon.

Sarawak Energy group chief executive Officer Datuk Sharbini Suhaili and members of the management team were also present.

They were joined by MBOR chief operating officer Christopher Wong as well as various community leaders and longhouse chiefs.

Sharbini congratulated Uma Baha and Apau Koyan on the project, adding, “We are pleased to work with the communities
on this project and will continue to develop meaningful programmes for the people of the area.”

Sarawak Energy has partnered Bakun Resettlement’s respective longhouse development committee or Jawatankuasa Kemajuan dan Keselamatan Kampung (JKKK) to support the community’s effort to preserve its cultural heritage.

Tony (left) receives the Malaysia Book of Records Certificate from Wong as (from second left) Sharbini, Abdul Karim and Chuk witness the handover.

Initiated by Kenyah community leader Pemanca Tony Kulleh and his team, the Belawing Tower embellished with ethnic motifs is a heritage landmark symbolising the strength in unity of the community.

At 80-feet tall, the record-setting tower made of belian tree (ironwood) took about three months of communal efforts to complete.

“We are grateful to Sarawak Energy for their support throughout this endeavour.

“This achievement has brought great honour to our community in Apau Koyan for the preservation and promotion of our culture and heritage,” said Tony.

The achievement is expected to enhance Apau Koyan’s appeal as one of Sarawak’s tourist attractions.

Commenting on the feat, Sarawak Energy’s general manager for CSR and Sustainability Jiwari Abdullah said, “Sarawak Energy has rolled out several programmes for the resettlement community with a focus on enhancing and uplifting their well-being.”

Beginning this year, the corporation introduced a longhouse adoption programme to benefit the 15 resettled longhouses. Other activities like Eye Vision programme, Youth Skills training and Fire Safety Awareness and Prevention programmes were also implemented for the community.

As part of the corporation’s initiatives to support villagers in their cultural activities
for heritage preservation, Sarawak Energy recently collaborated with the Belaga District Office and Apau Koyan to organise the Apau Koyan Festival.