Sarawak Energy Staff Participates In Mount Serumbu Gotong Royong

KUCHING, 28TH JULY 2015, TUESDAY: Some 300 volunteers gathered at Mount Serumbu in Bau on Saturday for a gotong-royong community project with local villagers from Kampong Peninjau at the site, considered sacred by the Bidayuh community and historically significant to Sarawak.

Mt. Serumbu has a high heritage value as the earliest settlement of the Serumbu Bidayuhs as well as the site of Rajah James Brooke’s hilltop retreat holiday cottage. Alfred Russel Wallace, renowned 19th century thinker and co-originator on the theory of evolution by natural selection as well a naturalist and explorer, also stayed at the cottage while pursuing his research.

Initiated by Sarawak Energy's Sports Club, the power company’s staff were joined by volunteers from Resident Office Kuching, the Institution of Engineers, Malaysia, St Teresa Secondary School and the local committee of the Rajah Brooke Heritage who worked over Saturday to clear the trail leading to the lookout point, clean up rubbish and build and repair bamboo benches while setting up proper signboards and directional signs. The group is the biggest by far to conduct a cleanup on the sacred mountain.

The intention of the whole day event was to restore the area and make it more attractive, with a further long term aim to help boost tourism to the area. In addition to heritage conservation, the concerted effort from multiple caring and like-minded organisations would also help spread awareness of the heritage trail.

Lu Yew Hung, Executive Vice President of Sarawak Energy and Chief Executive Officer of SESCO launched the event in the morning. He expressed his pride at the large number of Sarawak Energy staff who had given up their Saturday to take part in the project, together with other like-minded volunteers and organisations.

 “Sarawak Energy wants to maximise the positive impact of what we do and minimise any negative impacts of our operations. We employ over 4,200 people across Sarawak and on the whole, I think we try to be good corporate citizens at both corporate and individual level. By giving back, we hope to gain something through this opportunity by raising our own spirit of volunteerism and camaraderie.

Explaining that the primary aim of the activity was to help conserve Mount Serumbu’s natural and historical heritage deemed sacred to the local community, he said "It is an honour to play our own small part in helping to restore the heritage trail here.”

Mount Serumbu, also known as Mount Peninjau, was home to the earliest settlement of the Serumbu Bidayuhs some 300 years ago. While on a working visit to Siniawan and Bau, Sir James Brooke was said to be captivated by the Bidayuh Longhouses at the mountain top facing Siniawan. Between 1848 and 1850 with the help of the villagers there, Brooke built a cottage at Bung Muan located just above the settlement.

The Rajah Brooke Heritage for Mount Serumbu committee secretary Wilson Spilak Asui said the heritage trail was quite well known amongst European tourists and descendants from the Brooke lineage had also hiked the trail.

He said the 17 villages surrounding the foot of the mountain considers the area sacred given their ancestry, hence the move to form the Rajah Brooke Heritage committee to safeguard the biodiversity and natural features of the mountain and at the same time explore potential in tourism.

The volunteers, with Lu Yew Hung, Executive Vice President of Sarawak Energy and Chief Executive Officer of SESCO and Kuching Resident Shukarmin Chasemon (standing centre), gather for a group photo before their climb.

Getting ready to clean and clear the heritage trail of Mount Serumbu.

Having fun while clearing the heritage trail on Mount Serumbu.

Clearing fallen logs and bamboos from obstructing the heritage trail.