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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Dalat A Unique Melanau Charm

The Melanau community is usually associated with two things sago and their delicious sago products and of course, Pesta Kaul. And if you wish to experience the best of these, come to Dalat. Some of the best tasting sago is said to come from this region. Dalat is also home to some of the most spectacular Pesta Kaul or Kaul Festivals around. So the next time you think of enriching your cultural experience and getting a taste of the Melanau delicious sago, come to Dalat for that ultimate Melanau cultural experience.

Dalat – The Town Of Flies?

According to oral history, the name Dalat was derived from the word lalat – meaning housefly in the Malay language. There were plenty of flies in Dalat in those days. No one really knew why and where the flies came from or where they disappeared to over the years. The fly population has since been reduced but the name stuck on and with the passing of time, the word Lalat slowly became Dalat or Dalad and has remained so to this very day.

Though small in area and population, Dalat is a town to watch out for. It’s agro-based and tourism potentials makes Dalat a likely place to experience fast paced progress in the State’s overall development.

Dalat was a district of Sibu before it came under the administrative jurisdiction of the Mukah Division in March 2001. With the split, the areas under Dalat was reduced from 2,210.1 km sq, covering the areas from Oya to Ulu Pakoh to 905.29 sq km which covers the areas from Kampung Penat to Oya, Muara Sg Kut to Ulu Baoh. Under the new administration, Dalat now has towns, 23 kampungs and 22 longhouses. The distance to the administrative centre of Mukah is about 48 km.

Although it is accessible by land from Sibu and Mukah, the river is still a popular mode of transportation as most the kampungs are connected by rivers.
The Melanau community who makes up about 81% of its total population of 16,739 live in the nearby areas of Oya, Dalat, Sungai Kut and Narub. The Chinese are mostly urban dwellers found mostly in the towns of Dalat, Oya and Sungai Kut while the areas around Sungai Baoh are home to the Ibans.

New Dalat Town - pride of the community

Economic Activities

The agriculture sector forms the main economic base for Dalat. Famed for its sago and the increasingly popular Nenas Pada (pineapple), some of the most delicious sago and sago products come from Dalat. Although majority of its population is in the agriculture sector, some are involved in logging while those staying at the coastal areas depend on fishing as their source of income. The number of its working force joining the civil service is also on the rise.

Sago is the main export of Dalat although other supplementary crops like paddy and local fruits are being cultivated as well. Another crop being developed on a commercial basis is oil palm.

The small and medium industries are its biggest job providers. This is particularly true for its sago processing industry that has helped to create jobs and improve the livelihood of the people.

An estimated 5,000 sago logs are processed by the four sago processing factories daily generating a revenue of RM34,000 per day or about RM850,000 per month. The four sago processing factories are Nge Seng Ngeng Enterprise in Kpg Medong which employs about 32 people with a processing capacity of 1,500 logs per day, Sy Song Ngeing Sago in Kpg Kekan with a staff of 50 and a processing capacity of 2,000 logs, Sy. C.L Nee Sago at Sg. Tirek Kpg Baru Cina with a daily processing capacity of 1,200 logs and last but not least, Sy. Ubom & Sons at Kpg Tanam Hilir.With a combined area of nearly 10,000 hectare, oil palm is another crop that is being developed commercially by FELCRA, Solar Green and Medan Sepadu.

Except for FELCRA, both Solar Green and Medan Sepadu have started production at an average of 3,500 metric tonne and 10,000 metric tonne per year respectively.

Diversifying Local Economy

In Dalat, her cottage industry forms an important support in the overall economy particularly involving the processing of sago and production of sago-based products. What’s unique is that most of these cottage industries are initiated and run by women. In its efforts to diversify the economy and to provide more opportunity for the people of Dalat to generate additional income, the government has initiated projects such as the VIDP project.

VIDP projects encourage the people to participate in small businesses. For example, in 2002, the state government has allocated about RM200,000 to Kpg Kuala Hilir Oya under the VIDP Project to implement several economic projects such as mini petrol kiosk operations, rearing of cows for meat, food stalls and gardening.

Sago processing industry provides a
lucrative income for its people

Infrastructure Development

Although Dalat is considered a small town with less than 20,000 people, physical development can be seen all around the towns and sub-districts.

Among the most prominent are the completion of Phase 1 of the New Dalat Township, the newly completed Dalat District Office, the new SMK Oya and
State Government Flat which are still under construction. The new Dalat Hospital (which began operation in 2003) is another pride of this thriving town. The upgrading of Dalat/Oya road and the Oya bridge which is currently ongoing. Facilities to encourage sports and youth development in Dalat include
the Stadium Perpaduan, Dewan Administrative Masyarakat and the Village Community hall which underwent a recent renovation to accommodate the town’s growing population. There are two public libraries – one in Dalat district and another in Oya-as well the availability of the Mobile Library Service that covers seven schools accessible by road.

Other Infrastructures Dalat has one secondary school and 19 primary schools including 14 pre-school facilities, while another secondary school, SMK Oya, is under construction. A new hospital, two village clinics and one maternity clinic provide medical and health services to the people of Dalat. Most of the villages have access to electricity supply except the remote areas at Kpg Klid/Sua/Narub and the long houses around Ng Baoh and Ulu Baoh. Projects to supply clean water are currently being implemented and it is estimated that very soon, all the villages except for the remote Kpg Klid/Sua/Narub and Baoh areas will have clean water supply.

Pesta Kaul – Dalat’s Tourism Attraction

Like most towns in Sarawak, Dalat has many interesting attractions that could lure visitors to its shore. One of the most prominent is its unique Pesta Kaul – a traditional festival celebrated only by the Melanau community in Sarawak. The celebration usually takes place in the villages but what is interesting about these celebrations is that the villages will each have their unique features based on their respective beliefs and traditions. Even the date of the celebration may be different. For example, in Oya, Pesta Kaul is celebrated in April while the Melanau community in Muara Sungai Kut will celebrate the festival in June. Kampung Medong will celebrate theirs in December followed by Kpg Klid whose festivities will be in January.

With its new administration under the newly upgraded Mukah Division, things are looking up for Dalat. Despite its rather quick march from a sleepy little
town to a bustling economic hub for this region, Dalat remains a unique and charming Melanau riverine town.

‘Tebaloi’ making is an important
cottage industry for Dalat

How To Get There

Dalat is accessible by road and river from Sibu. Travelling to Dalat by road takes about 5 hours passing through Mukah. Dalat can also be reached by express boat services from Sibu.

Member of Parliament P186 Mukah
- YB Datuk Dr Leo Micheal Toyad

ADUN N.44 Dalat
- YB Puan Hajah Fatimah Abdullah

Previous District Officers who have served in Dalat

 Encik Salleh b. Yusuf (Ag) 6.7.1973 - 21.6.1974
 En. Swithin Boult / Tuan Haji Iskandar Abdullah 22.6.74 -29.01.75
 En. Peter Nyaed Juses 30.1.75 - 12.11.78
 En Peter Ling Hing Sing (Ag) 13.11.78 - 19.2.79
 En. Matthias Raya Genam 20.2.79 - 5.2.82
 En. Wong Sie Hua 6.2.82 - 23.10.85
 En Sulaiman Hj Hussaini (Ag) 24.10.85 - 4.4.87
 En. Ismawi Ismuni (Ag) 9.6.90 - 14.8.95
 En Junaidi Haji Piee 15.8.95 - 31.12.96
 En. Mohd Supaih Hamdan 2.1.96 - 30.3.2000
 En. Ismail b. Kasah (Ag) 1.4.2000 - 1.1.2001
 Encik Mohd Saaid Haji Atoi 2.1.2001 - 3.9.2001
 En James Chas Gerok (Ag) 4.9.01 - 15.1.2002
 Tn Haji Mohd Supaih Haji Hamdan 16.1.2002


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