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. Its
agro-based and tourism potentials makes Dalat a likely place to experience fast
paced progress in the States 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
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.
Whats 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
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 towns 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
Pesta Kaul Dalats 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
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