We often judge a book by its cover and
worse than that, we judge a book by its author! While it is true that beauty is
relative, perhaps it takes a retrospective mind and a welcoming heart to truly
appreciate a place. The name Kanowit would probably not trigger any local tourist’s
interest… but why not?
|Administrative map of Kanowit
RAKAN SARAWAK’s visit to the district a few months ago led to a discovery
of historical treasure, potential tourist attractions, people with genuine hearts,
dedicated civil servants, and in general, a quiet and slow-paced life.
The Birth of Kanowit
Kanowit District is one of the administrative districts under the Sibu Division.
Like most districts all over Sarawak, Kanowit has its cradle during the Brooke’s
rule. His rule saw him establishing a fort whenever he acquired a new area from
the Sultan of Brunei. The establish-ment of the fort was founded on the need
to have a form of government at the local level. This government at the local
level would keep check on the tribal wars and piracy for the realization of
peace, law and order. In Kapit, the first Fort Emma was built in 1851. The establishment
of this fort was historic as it marked the beginning and birth of the District
Office in Kanowit.
Why the district was given the name Kanowit, no one really knows for sure. There
are a few versions, though,
on how the district got its name. One sour-ce said that it was derived from
the word “Kanawit” which was the name of the native tribe who originally
settled in the district. Another source said that it may be from the word “Kennowit”
which was a small community, as claimed by Mr. Frederick Boyle FRGS in his book
Adventures Among the Dayaks of Borneo 1867. Another version of the story goes
like this: One Brooke official wanted to ease himself on the journey and shouted
“Cannot Wait!” so the driver thought the place was called like that.
Time passed and it became known as Kanowit.
No Tourist Attraction in Kanowit?
|“We need to be facilitators
for national development and growth in the district level” says SAO
En. Katis Noel Nyabong
If you are the type of tourist who goes for peace, serenity and over-all well
being, then most likely, you will love Kanowit. There may be no “official
tourist spot” in Kanowit but having nothing, being by itself , somehow
makes Kanowit a tourist’s treasure in her own right. There is undoubtedly
a slow pace of life (very slow indeed!) and a zero nightlife in Kanowit but
who cares if you need an early night sleep, Kanowit will be a welcome respite
from the stressful city life.
There are no taxis available in the entire
district, so if you need to go places, it’s either you hitch-hike or you
travel by foot. It is no surprise that the air is unpolluted as there are less
cars and you have a better deal of breathing in fresh air.
But despite these superficial lack of modern amenities, you will be pleasantly
surprised to know that the coffee shops’ sense of hygiene is better than
the ones in most towns in Sarawak. Your plate of noodles will be served with
spoons or chopsticks soaked in boiling water, for instance. This is part of
the local council’s effort to promote cleanliness in public places.
The Kanowit District Office
Joining the bandwagon of development administration
The Kanowit District Office, like most district offices in Sarawak, is facing
the challenges of present-day administration. Gone are the days that you only
focus on law and order in the
district . “We need to be facilitators for national development and growth
in the district level” says En. Katis Noel Nyabong, Sarawak Administrative
Officer (SAO). He observed that the mentality of the people has changed and
they demand better services than before.
“ In this context, the district administration has to be customer-driven.
In our quest to improve and enhance the quality of our service, the Kanowit
District Office has embarked on the quality system MS ISO 9002: 1994”,
he gladly added. And their efforts were not in vain. In September 2002, the
district received its certification from MAMPU for its Pengurusan Projeck Kecil
On top of that, the district office also garnered the second place in the Civil
Buildings/Safety Category in Landscape Competition back in 1998, which was organised
by the Ministry of Environment and Public Health Sarawak.
Ongoing Development Projects
The Jabatan Kerja Raya (JKR) Kanowit is progressively building and constructing
roads and bridges all over
the district. To date, the total length of premix road is 56.325 km while the
total length of gravel road is 27.95 km. There are 10 reinforced concrete bridges
in the district.
“The JKR Sibu tries its best to finish and complete the projects on time
so that we can best serve the people” says En. Tie Tung Ing, District Engineer.
One of the ongoing projects is the riverwall extension in Kanowit town which
costs about RM 3.2 million and to be completed in nine months.
The main objective of this project is to extend the existing retaining wall
in front of the shophouses to protect the riverbank from further erosion and
to beautify the town. The main component in this project is constructing a riverwall
which consists of two platforms. Once completed, the beautification project
in the town area will commence.
The Kanowit District Profile
||27, 983, people (as of 2000)
||En. Edward Sadai Anja
|Main source of livelihood
||Palm oil, rubber and padi
|Number of villages
|Number of longhouses
|Number of housing estates
|| YB Datuk Leo Moggie
||YB Encik Gabriel
Adit ak Demong
|The JKR officers … the
people behind the roads and bridges in Kanowit
||Who says there is nothing in
Kanowit? A breathtaking aerial view of Kanowit
|You have a better deal of breathing
in fresh air
|The historic Fort Emma …
a pillar of today’s government district administration
|Eye-Catching... the Clock Tower
in Kanowit town centre
||A “mermaid” overlook
the Rejang River
|Pristine, pollution-free Kanowit
||We try our best to finish and
complete the projects on time so we can best serve the people” says
En. Tie Tung Ing, JKR District Engineer