Rangkaian Khidmat Awam Negeri Sarawak

(People, events, activities and programmes which make for a total quality-managed Sarawak Civil Service)

ISSN 1394-5726

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KANOWIT A Treasure In Her Own Right

Administrative map of Kanowit District
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?

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 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 Luar Bandar.

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

Population 27, 983, people (as of 2000)
Predominantly Iban
District Officer En. Edward Sadai Anja
Main source of livelihood Farming
Main crops Palm oil, rubber and padi
Number of villages 5
Number of longhouses 355
Number of housing estates 6
Primary Schools 36
Secondary schools 6
Civic centre 1
MP YB Datuk Leo Moggie ak Irok
ADUN 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
in Kanowit
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 River 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


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