It was more than ten years since my last visit to this farm, which is located about four or five kilometers from my Kampong. It was a surprise for me than!
1987 – The History Written
I was still very young to understand about the launching of the so-called Eastern Empress Silk Sdn Bhd, located at Kampung Siru Dayak, in Sematan Sarawak. The honorable, YAB Chief Minister launched the historical developments for Dayak Salako, might be until now is the biggest project ever for this area. I am not very sure on the cost, but it was really big.
My Kampong, on this year was still connected by gravel road. Traveling to Sematan will take about half day (we have to follow closely on the bus schedule), where I still remember that my parents bring our own “tapau” foods just to send my brother for routine check at a government clinic. And the bus fare is only 90 cents! Be careful on the bus because your hair will no need gels as the dust along the road is strong enough to straighten your hair. Most of the Dayak Salako is still lagging behind in terms of infrastructures developments as well as education and information.
By opening of the farm, which cover few hills of Bukit Pueh, its really change everything. The farm provides hundreds or thousands of job opportunities to the surroundings kampong as far as from Lundu. At first it s look a success for this mega project for a kampong boy like me.
At least one family has at least one representative who works in various departments. The salaries are not that good as their hopes but at least give them permanent job. The permanent income at least gives them confident to send their children to school. In extra, it’s actually their secondary job, apart from their routine and heritage occupation as farmer. The youngster even going back to Kampong by knowing that their hometown could give the similar income they get in town.
On this time, school and education become important, the parents take it as compulsory. Up today, the nearest school at Kampong Pueh (I am an old boys there, where I get my first education) is getting bigger and bigger and I believe it is now one of the important primary school in Lundu District. Two secondary schools, SMK Sematan and SMK Lundu now even bigger and get their school extension projects to enable it recruit more students from the surrounding kampongs. The education evolution in Dayak Salako is the biggest development that I believe could bring them similar to the achievement by other races in Sarawak. This is one of the output plays by the Silk Farm in Sematan.
Roads being upgraded to tar seal roads year later, and up to date some are until the individual houses. The standards of course, much far inferior in quality compare to the highways in Semanjung Malaysia. Sematan, anyway is the first point for the federal highway in Sarawak. By the road construction, the final outcome is electricity supply to the kampongs. Nowadays, all the kampongs are supply by 24 hours electricity. Hmm…it is part of the project, I guess…
Few years later, Pueh Youth Camp (Kem Belia Pueh), and DID Scheme came in, give another big impact to the surrounding Kampong. The DID scheme allowed the paddy farmers to plant their paddy for at least twice a year.
The latest development shall be the establishment of Kampung Pueh Longhouse as one of the most successful homestay programme in Sarawak.
After years of launching, the workers are dwindling, most likely due to low production on the silk. The company changes its management for a few times, and the current company shall be given credits for continuously manage its struggle until now.
Most of the factories and other buildings now are not properly utilize, and it’s become abundant.
The farms are mostly now covered by wild plants, maintain only one third of the original, I believe just to continue on the production.
For the now economy crisis globally, credit again shall be given to the company for its struggle.
By that small analysis, I conclude that the project is not a failure. We heard about other similar project on Tiger Prawn, Crabs, Fish breeding, etc… and end in similar failure. Further analysis shall be taken into consideration for these semi-government projects so that it will further give more benefits to the rakyat.
As for the Sematan Silk Farm, which I believed one of the landmark for my Kampong shall be continue. Most of the Kampong folks now might be more interested to work on developing their own lands, but the pride of this Silk Farm as one of it in Sarawak shall be retain. As informed to me by a worker, hundred percent of their workers are local. Some more interesting fact!
I went to the show room, where the final product of silk; the silk quilt pillows and other silk products are display. Not bad. The prices are …mpphhh… expensive but I believe I will sleep comfortably on this local product of my Kampong.
Ya...of course...as a local here I have to support and make sure one day I will buy this local made silk product!
The white silk, raw silk before process to other products.