BY MUHAMMAD AMMAR SHAFIQ HAMZAH
KUCHING: The story of Princess Santubong and Princess Sejinjang is a local myth that encompasses a perfect recipe for a successful modern prime time soap opera or drama.
The bitter rivalry and jealousy between the two ‘kayangan’ princesses over the love of a prince became the main theme of the story which eventually ended up with Santubong being cursed into Mount Santubong.
The folklore which has been passed down through generations in Sarawak has become synonymous with the Damai peninsula, which is located about 35 km from Sarawak’s capital city of Kuching.
The peninsula, where the 810-metre high Mount Santubong is located is blessed with picturesque sandy beach and tropical rainforest, making it one of Sarawak’s famous tourist destinations.
These potentials have prompted the state government to further invest in developing the peninsula with a plan to build a massive resort city dubbed the Damai Resort City project, which will transform the popular seaside area.
The project will include new resorts, jungle trails and trekking facilities, wellness and health enclaves, marina and commercial as well as residential properties that will be built under the auspices of the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC).
SEDC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Husain explained that this was a long term plan and at the moment the state-owned agency was preparing a comprehensive study for the development of the peninsula which would encompass all aspects including the environmental impact.
“We already have consultants comprising local and foreign experts. This study is expected to take a year and we will have the report ready by early 2022. If all is well we will implement the project,” he told Bernama.
Apart from planning to build new facilities, SEDC which is responsible for leading the development of tourism products in the state is also looking at upgrading its existing facilities in Damai such as the Damai Lagoon Resort.
The renovation will involve maintaining and upgrading work of current rooms and facilities as well as constructing a new Glamping and Rock Chalet Village at the resort.
“This is our vision and we are also looking to have a train or Light Rail Transit (LRT) coming to Damai from Kuching. It will be easier if those arriving at the airport (in Kuching) can take a train straight to Damai,” said Abdul Aziz.
The rich culture of Sarawak is also one of its main tourist attractions and in its tourism drive, the state government also looks to improve the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) in Damai. The 6.8-hectare SCV showcases local culture and lifestyles of the various ethnic groups in Sarawak as well as replica buildings of the Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu, Penan, Melanau, Malay and Chinese.
According to Abdul Aziz, SEDC was also looking to include a herb garden at the village where local spices and vegetables would be planted and used for food preparations before being served to tourists.
The promotion of local culture has also received a significant boost through the support of the federal government when it announced a RM20 million allocation under Budget 2021 to improve infrastructure and step up promotions of cultural village products, particularly those located in Terengganu, Sarawak and Negeri Sembilan.
The story of Princess Santubong will also soon come to life with a special play to be performed at the village’s own theatre where it will feature local actors and actresses.
“The play will be performed in series and we also plan to showcase the performance live. (At the moment) everything is ready including the script and actors, but due to the emergency proclamation and the COVID-19 situation, the play has been postponed,” said Abdul Aziz. – Bernama
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