Jabah Michael and her local product. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

KOTA SAMARAHAN: At first glance, there seems to be nothing special about the fermented fish sold by 42-year-old Jabah Mingku Voon.

However, the story behind this is inspiring.

Jabah is the widow of national hero, DSP Michael Padel, who was killed in a terrorist ambush at Kampung Simunul, Semporna in Sabah on March 2, 2013.

Describing her late husband as a romantic, Jabah said, exotic food such as fermented fish, pickled vegetables and tempoyak (fermented durian) was a favourite of her late husband.

“So, I remember him by running a business selling fermented Ikan Sultan as well as other products such as fish crackers, rice crackers, carrot cake and acar rebung.

“I have been running this business for the past eight years, which is now gaining popularity and spreading on social media,” she said when met by New Sarawak Tribune sister daily Suara Sarawak at her residence on Friday (July 17).

Jabah, who hails from Simunjan, is thankful that her products are well received by various communities despite the competition.

“The orders come from all over Sarawak, to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and other places.

“In fact, when the country was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and when the movement control order (MCO) was implemented, it did not affect my business as I was taking orders in the nearby areas only,” she said, adding that her only son, Macluie, helped her a lot.

Jabah said to fulfil the order within two weeks, 20kg to 50kg of Ikan Sultan was needed, which she bought from a nearby wet market.

“I sell this fermented fish at RM40 per kg and it is also distributed in a smaller size, half a kg for RM20.

“My fish crackers and rice crackers sell for RM6 a pack while the acar rebung sells for RM10 for 300g,” she said.

Jabah, who also provides catering services, said so far, she had only promoted her products through social media.

“I also produce fish crackers and rice crackers by hand. So, I hope the government can help in terms of providing equipment to facilitate the mixing process,” she said, admitting that she was not very knowledgeable about the steps to apply for such assistance.