Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Sarawak : Kuching Divison

Sarawak (Jawi: سراوق) is one of the two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang (‘Land of the Hornbills’), it is situated on the north-west of the island. It is the largest state in Malaysia; the second largest, Sabah,to the northeast. The administrative capital is Kuching (pop. 579,900 (2006 census; Kuching City South - 143,500; Kuching City North - 133,600; Padawan- 3rd Mile/ 7th Mile/ 10th Mile - 302,800)) which literally means ‘cat’ (kucing). Major cities and towns also include Sibu (pop. 254,000), Miri (pop. 263,000) and Bintulu (pop. 176,800). As of last census (Dec 31, 2006), the state population was 2,357,500. For more details about the population see Demographics of Malaysia

, though it is interesting to note that Sarawak is, like Sabah to the north, a multicultural state, with no ethnic majority.


Having land area of 124,450 km² spreading between latitude 0° 50′ and 5°N and longitude 109° 36′ and 115° 40′ E, it makes up 37.5% of the land of Malaysia. Sarawak also contains large tracts of tropical rain forest home to an abundance of plant and animal species. Sarawak is currently divided into eleven Administrative Divisions: Kuching Division, Samarahan Division, Sri Aman Division, Betong Division, Sarikei Division, Sibu Division, Mukah Division, Kapit Division, Bintulu Division, Miri Division and Limbang Division.

The country stretches for some 750 km along the north east coastline of Borneo interrupted in the north by about 150 km of Brunei coast (not adding the coastline along the bays). Sarawak is separated from the Indonesian part of Borneo, Kalimantan, by ranges of high hills and mountains that are part of the central mountain range of Borneo. These get higher to the north and culuminate near the source of theBaram River with the steep Mount Batu Lawi, Mount Mulu in the Park of the same name and Mount Murud with the highest peak in Sarawak. The most important rivers are from the south to the north the Sarawak River, the Lupar River, the Saribas River, the Rajang River with 563 km the longest river in Malaysia with the Baleh River branch, the Baram River, the Limbang River that drains into the Brunei Bay as it divides the two parts of Brunei and the Trusan River that also flows into the Brunei Bay.

Sarawak can be divided into three natural regions. The coastal region is rather low lying flat country with large extents of swamps and other wet environments. The hill region provides most of the easily inhabited land. Most of the larger cities and towns have been built in this region. As the swamps make up much of the coast, the ports of Kuching and Sibu have been built some distance from the coast on rivers, while Bintulu and Miri are close to the coast at the only places that the hills stretch right to the China Sea. The third region is the mountain region along the border and with the Kelabit and Murut highlands in the north.

Kuching Division is one of the eleven administrative divisions in Sarawak, east Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. Formerly called the "First Division", it is the center and the starting point of modern Sarawak. Kuching Division has a total area of 4,559.5 square kilometers.The word Kuching comes from the word 'kucing' which brings the meaning of cat. Kuching is also known as Cat City.

Kuching Division contains three administrative districts: Kuching, Bau, and Lundu. The total population was 606,000 per the year 2000 census.


Kuching is the capital of the East Malaysian State of Sarawak. Kuching is the most populous city in the state of Sarawak and the fourth largest city in Malaysia[3].[4] Kuching was elevated to city status on 1 August 1988.


The city of Kuching is located in the district of Kuching. The district covers an area of 1,863 square kilometres, and is one of three districts within Kuching Division. The district of Kuching is administered by three local governments. The administration of Kuching city is divided into two local governments and governed by two mayors. The northern section of Kuching is run by Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara (Kuching North City Hall) covering an area of 369.48 square kilometres. The southern section is administrated by Majlis Bandaraya Kuching Selatan (Kuching South City Council) covering a smaller but a more densely populated area of 61.53 square kilometres. There are those who believe that the divisions in power for the Northern (primarily Malay and Bumi residents) and Southern (primarily Chinese residents) districts came about due to ethnic reasons in the 1980s. There are also those who believe the administration is divided due to geographical reasons, as the Northern and Southern districts are linked by only two bridges spanning the Sarawak River. The third local government is Majlis Perbandaran Padawan or Padawan Municipal Council (formerly known as Kuching Rural District Council) which mainly administers the rural areas within Kuching district. It covers a large portion of Kuching district with an area of 1,431.82 square kilometres.

List of city area in Kuching

Kuching North City Hall area

Kuching North City Hall Family Cat Statues
Kuching North City Hall Family Cat Statues

Kuching South City Council area

Kuching South City Council Cat Statue
Kuching South City Council Cat Statue
  • Kuching City
  • Pending
  • Stampin
  • Tanah Putih
  • Bintawa


Sarawak was a part of the Sultanate of Brunei 200 years ago but as a reward for its help in putting down a rebellion, it was ceded to a British adventurer called James Brooke who ruled it as his personal kingdom. Kuching was made his capital and headquarters. The Brooke family ruled Sarawak until the Japanese occupation in December 1941. Kuching surrendered to the Japanese forces on 24 December 1941, and Sarawak was part of the Japanese Imperial Empire for three years and eight months, until the official Japanese surrender on 11 September 1945 on board HMAS Kapunda at Kuching. From March 1942 the Japanese operated a POW and civilian internee camp at Batu Lintang, three miles (5 km) outside Kuching.[5] After the end of World War II the third and last Rajah, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke ceded Sarawak to the British Crown in 1946. Sarawak and the British Commonwealth fought an "Undeclared War" with Indonesia to keep Sarawak from being absorbed into Sukarno's Indonesia. The British gave Sarawak independence in 1963 and together with North Borneo, Sabah and Singapore, helped form Malaysia. Singapore became independent soon after.

Origin of name

The origins of its name have never been clear. "Kuching" does translate into "cat" in Malay [6], "kuching" is an old Malay spelling, whereas the new official Malay spelling today would be "kucing" but both of them are pronounced the same, in specific reference to the domesticated cat but it may actually be a variation of the Indian name for "port" - "Cochin". Kuching was first settled by Indian traders who set up base at Santubong. Artifacts of Hindu origin can today be seen at the State Museum. There are also strange artifacts found at Santubong which illustrate the area being visited by large, bipedal cats, possibly aliens of feline origin. This is the most likely origin for the name.

The city has never been remembered for having a significantly larger population of cats when compared to others. In fact, the many cat statues, the Kuching Cat Museum and other association with cats have been part of a modern effort of tourism; many travel brochures refer to Kuching as "Cat City" or the "City of Cats". Otherwise, they hold no real meaning for the residents and are not considered by locals as romantic.

There are other theories which attribute the name to a fruit called "mata kucing" or "cat's eye"; it would seem that trees bearing this fruit used to grow in abundance by the river banks - where the city proper lies today. There is a hill in the heart of the old city called Bukit Mata Kuching which could have been as responsible.


Kuching is situated at the banks of the Sarawak River on the North-Western part of the island of Borneo. The longitude and latitude of Kuching is 01°33' N, 110°25' E.

The climate in Kuching is tropical, moderately hot and receives substantial rainfall. The average annual rainfall is approximately 4,000 mm or 160 inches[7]. Kuching is the wettest city in Malaysia. The wettest times are during the North-East Monsoon months of November to February. The temperature of Kuching ranges from 20 °C to 36 °C but the average temperature is around 23 °C in the early hours of the morning and rises to around 32 °C in the mid afternoon. This temperature stays almost constant throughout the year if it is not affected by the heavy rain and strong winds during the early hours of the morning which would rarely bring the temperature down to 20 °C. The temperature would also rise to 38 °C under rare cases due to the haze caused by open burning from Indonesia during the dry season. The haze occurs annually around mid year in Kuching.


Kuching is the 4th largest urban area in Malaysia, after Kuala Lumpur-Klang Valley, Ipoh and Johor Bahru.

It was also voted as the healthiest and cleanest city in Malaysia, as well as in the World, which recognised and awarded by both United Nations (UN) and World Health Organisation (WHO) [9] and by the Alliance for Healthy Cities (AFHC) in Suzhou, China.[10]

The population of 579,900 (2006 census; Kuching City South - 143,500; Kuching City North - 133,600; Padawan- 3rd Mile/ 7th Mile/ 10th Mile - 302,800) in the city is made up of a mixture of Chinese (220,400), Malays (207,000), Ibans (58,100) and some Indians and other ethnic groups. The Dayaks can be further categorized into Ibans, Bidayuhs, Melanaus and many others. The Chinese are made up of Fujianese (Hokkien) in the city areas and Hakka in the suburbs mainly. Other Chinese consist of Foochow (Fuzhou), Teochew, Hainanese, Cantonese, Henghua and others. Interracial marriages among ethnics in Kuching are also very popular. The main religions of the peoples of Kuching are Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism and Islam. Malays practice Islam and all Malays are Muslim by definition. Chinese practice either Buddhism, Taoism or Christianity. Most aborigines are Christian except the Melanaus who are mainly Muslim.

The majority of people in Kuching are capable of communicating in Bahasa Melayu (Malay Language) as well as English. English is widely spoken in Kuching despite the fact that it is not the first language for many people. The dialect of the Malay language spoken in Kuching is known as Bahasa Melayu Sarawak (Sarawakian Malay Language), which has lexical differences with the dialect spoken in Peninsular Malaysia.

On top of Malay and English, Kuchingites can usually speak his or her own ethnic dialect/language. An Iban can speak Iban, a Bidayuh speak Bidayuh and the Chinese usually several Chinese dialects, the most common are being Hokkien and Mandarin in Kuching. More recently however, Mandarin has supposedly become more widely spoken than Hokkien since it is well known by all other Chinese and is the language of instruction in Chinese vernacular schools. For the Bidayuhs, the dialect of Bidayuh spoken in one kampung/village may vary greatly with another kampung/village. It is also common to find people who can speak more than just Malay, English and their native tongue, not only due to the wide practice of mixed marriages but because of the close rapport amongst the people of Kuching.

A small minority however, speak English as their first language.

Future & On going developments

  • Boulevard Shopping Complex - A new regional mall located along Jalan Datuk Tawi Sli in the 4th Mile area, the major tenant are Boulevard Department Store & Hypermarket, with some 720,000 sq ft (67,000 m²) of net lettable area, which will be the largest one-stop lifestyle mall in the state. It expected to be completed by 10 October 2007, phase I of the mall will be open on December 2007, while phase II of the mall will be ready in November 2008.
  • Dewan Undangan Negeri - A new Sarawak State legislative assembly complex.
  • Federal Administrative Center - A new Federal Administrative Center will be establish in Matang area, costing RM2 billion to build, it expected to be completed by 2025.
  • Grand Centro - The biggest shopping complex cum hotel apartment project in King's Centre, Kuching, with some 1,200,000 square feet (110,000 m²) of gross building area.
  • Green Heights Mall - Kuching's first suburban neighbourhood small mall, with an international cold storage market, with some 4,000 m² of leasable space, will be open on early 2008.
  • Imperial Hotel Apartment - The building is consists together with Boulevard Shopping Complex, the hotel apartment will offering up to 700 units of rooms. It expected to be completed by June 2009, will be open on December 2009.
  • Isthmus Hypermarket Mall - The mall is part of the Kuching City Extension plan, will house a hypermarket & retail shoplots all under one roof, and when completed it expected to be the largest shopping mall in the region.
  • Kuching Tower - A 315 rooms 5-star hotel cum office complex, standing 39-storey or 150 metres tall, will be Borneo tallest building.
  • Matang Highway - This RM314.6 million project covers the construction of a 2-lane, dual-carriageway road, a gateway bridge over the Selang Rambungan River and a minor bridge over the Matang Sebubut River. Construction of this highway commenced in July 2002 and is targeted for completion in May 2007. Upon completion, the road will enable direct Kuching-Lundu access, thereby relieving congestion on the existing Matang Road.
  • Mudajaya New Township - The project comprises a new satellite township to be built on 265 acres (1.1 km²) of land. The township will be a self-contained township comprising apartments, condominiums, shophouses, shopping complexes, offices, private hospital, public and private schools and college, wet and dry markets, recreational park, town squares, sports and swimming facilities, bus terminal, police station, entertainment centres and hawker centres. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2015 and is expected to generate a total Gross Development Value of more than RM1 billion. [18]
  • Novotel Interhill Kuching - An international 388 rooms 4-star hotel cum 3-storey up-market shopping centre, with about 140,000 sq ft (13,000 m²) of retail space, It will be a 23-storey building with 2 underground basements. [19]
  • One TJ - Sarawak first ICT shopping mall will be develop in the Heights Drive commercial centre, with some 67,500 sq ft (6,270 m²) of leasable area, it expected to be completed by mid-2008.
  • Plaza Merdeka - A brand new CBD shopping mall with 350,000 sq ft (33,000 m²) of nett leasable area (built up - 550,000 sq ft (51,000 m²)) plus a 290 room Boutique hotel complex (built up - 175,000 sq ft (16,300 m²)) located in the historic heart of Kuching, it expected to be ready in mid-2010.
  • Samariang Mall - A new 3-storey shopping mall located in Bandar Baru Samariang new township.]
  • Sarawak International Medical Centre
  • The Spring - The largest lifestyle shopping mall in the state, situated in Kenyalang, will be open on early 2008, covering some 420,000 sq ft (39,000 m²) of net lettable area (built up - 1.2mln sq ft), the anchor tenant is Parkson Grand Department Store. [24]
  • University Malaysia Sarawak - UNIMAS will have its new campus in Samarahan Division or near the old campus of UNIMAS, it spread out to 2,000 acres (8 km²) of area, the project costing RM1.5 billion, it expected to be completed by 2015.


Ramblin' Dude said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramblin' Dude said...

I seem to have accidentally deleted my own comments.

I have something which I feel that I need to say it out loud regarding the topic which by perchance you have brought up in your interestingly written bog entry.

You are way of stereotyping all the races, Malays speaks Malays, Chinese speaks Chinese, Ibans of Iban, Bedayuhs of Bedayus are way off the mark. I am of Malay, Chinese (Hokkien/Hakka), Javanese, Melanau and Iban descent. Unfortunately, I can only speak only a fraction number of languages, when compared to the list above, albeit the above.

I have friends and families of Chinese descent in Sri Aman that can speak fluent Iban. I have a friend who is of Iban/Bedayuh descent and can speak both very very well. I've had another friend who is not even Iban/Bedayuh/Chinese that can speak all three. Not to mention the Malays who can speak all assortments of languages that are very much mind boggling.

The uniqueness of Sarawak is not just it's diversity in terms of its people, it is also because of the diversity of languages of its people who can converse with.