KUCHING: The Sarawak government has allocated around RM30 million to upgrade facilities at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said the allocation will be divided into three stages parked under the Semenggoh Rainforest Discovery Centre project, which will integrate and upgrade ecotourism facilities and products at Semenggoh Nature Reserve and Botanical Research Centre to showcase Sarawak’s biodiversity and natural resources.
“The allocation will be used for the upgrading of the entrance to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, a botanical garden and for the centre itself,” he told a press conference after officiating the laying of the foundation for Semenggoh Rainforest Discovery Centre and internet connectivity ceremony at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre here today.
He elaborated that within the botanical garden, there will also be a laboratory for research to be carried out on Sarawak’s biodiversity.
“One of our efforts is to make Sarawak the central hub for conservation and the Sarawak government is putting a lot of investment now to make our state ‘green.’
“We have to provide a space for people to carry out research on our biodiversity that will balance our efforts on conservation and habitat. These two must co-exist.
“By building a lab in the botanical garden, this will enable people to do research where they can collect samples and run preliminary studies,” he explained.
Apart from that, Abang Johari said the state will also be upgrading the internet connectivity at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.
“We have to have high-speed Internet and this will be implemented by the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) in collaboration with Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC).
“With this improved connectivity, the local community and tourists will benefit from this as visitors can access and find out what is available at the centre,” he said.
The state government through SMA has approved RM3 million for providing 100Mbps fibre-optic internet connectivity to nine national parks including Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Bako National Park, Gunung Gading National Park, Tanjung Datu National Park, Kubah National Park, Matang Wildlife Centre, Similajau National Park, Niah National Park and Lambir Hills National Park.
The project, which is expected to be completed by July 2021, will enable visitors to download up-to-the-minute information on the park and the idea of ‘real-time’ ‘Instagramming’ on the park grounds will serve as a means to attract more tourists to the parks.
Abang Johari also said in the last five to ten years, the number of visitors to Semenggoh Wilife Centre has increased.
“I was told that the centre has received about one million visitors and today it is quite a well-known attraction which counts prominent people such as Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales; actress Michelle Yeoh and Hollywood star Steven Seagal among its visitors.
“That is one of the reasons why the state government has decided to upgrade the facility,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ceremony, which was held in conjunction with International Orangutan Day, also saw Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) and Sarawak Timber Association (STA) handing over donations of RM50,000 each to SFC for orangutan conservation and upgrading of the feeding platform at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.
SFC chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton was present to receive the cheques from STIDC general manager Hashim Bojet and STA chief executive officer Annie Ting respectively.
Also present were Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, Stakan assemblyman Dato Sri Mohammad Ali Mahmud, Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang and Sarawak Forest Department director Datu Hamden Mohamad.
Source: Borneo Post