Friday, January 05, 2007

Opinion - Sarikei Icon

Barn Swallow & offsprings

Since Sarikei's inception, she has warmly welcomed the migratory swallows escaping winter elsewhere. Hence Sarikei was fondly known as the Swallow Town in Malaysia. My hypothesis is that swallows hunt for insects around the Rejang River mouth and its estuary during the day. In the evening, they come to the bright lights (which equates to insects) of the nearest big town up the river - Sarikei. The sky literally darkened when the swarm came to town and the noise they generated was in the high decibels. Swallows are quite common in other Sarawak towns but they can not be compared to Sarikei's swarm before 2000. The number of swallows have dwindled due to removal of their downtown roosting areas. Should the swallow be our mascot?

Sarikei 2006 - Pepper berries ripening
(source: Lau CN)

The other candidate is pepper. Sarikei thrived in the early days because it used to produce 80% of Sarawak's pepper and was the #1 producer in the world! How many cities in the world have a significant feat that they can claim to be #1 in the world? Unfortunately the unstable pepper prices and plant diseases drove farmers to other cash crops like cocoa and rubber in the late 1970s, 1980's and 1990's.

Sarikei 2004 - Pineapple statue basking in the sun.
Find the weathered stain on the clock tower.

The third choice which the current generation of kids can grasp better is the pineapple, our key agricultural product. The average Sarikei visitor typically snaps a picture of the pineapple statue and does not visit the market to look at Sarikei pineapples, let alone visits a commercial pineapple farm. What does a pineapple statue mean to visitors?

Sarikei has a changing identity through time that visitors associated with. Maybe we should honour all three with statues at the three veins of Sarikei. With the pineapple statue done at Rejang River, how about a swallow statue at the new Nyelong River esplanade and a pepper tree statue at the Sarikei River bridge to the new hospital? Each statue should have a plaque that explains its significance to Sarikei.

Now forget the swallow droppings that had landed on you, pardon the sneezing that pepper had triggered and ignore the minor acid wash your tongue had had from the pineapples. Spend a second to vote for your Sarikei icon below. Click "others" if you have a 4th choice like Bak Cheng herbs, Sebangkoi falls, Kam Pua noodles, etc. And the winner is ... (Results will be announced in a post's sidetrack after 2 weeks).

Create polls and vote for free.


chumly said...

Wow! I thought kids at McDonalds were noisy. Those birds say it all!!!!

burunghelang said...

If Sarikei was a country, swallow could be the national mascot, pineapple could be the national fruit and pepper could be the national crop.

Anonymous said...

As of today, the votes % are

Swallow = 40%
Pepper = 30%
Pineapple = 30%
Others = 0

Keep the votes coming.

Kanga said...

I think the swallows come and go. So is the pepper and its farming. In the back of my mind I still can recall the evening symphony by the swallows. Also I will never forget my years in the Sarikei pepper farm and even if I know how to do it all over again but I think I won't have the will and opportunity. Personally my vote goes to the pineapple. Not any pineapple but the Sarikei type. I never miss eating it every time I go back to this unforgetable town.

Daniel Yiek said...

I voted for the swallows for sentimental reasons because that's what I grew up with (BUT swallows are not unique to Sarikei - they are seen in many countries).

The rational winner should be pepper as Sarikei rode on its economic value for several years.

The contemporary winner should be the pineapple...and this is also our marketing logo.

Let's stay tuned for the votes...still coming in.

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