English: There, here and over there. Basically, in a sense, to mean restless. A collection of thoughts, musings and ramblings...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thoughts of Labuan

Labuan, the Pearl of South China Sea was my home for 4 years.

My family history can be traced back from the moment my great grandfather Kee Abdullah @ Kee Kim Swee (born to a Hainanese father, and Dusun Tutong mother) studied in Labuan.

This is the island where my great grandmother - a housekeeper to a colonial mansion, now Tiara Labuan, met and married a red-haired Scottish man named Morris Oakford.

This is also the island where my mother was born, in a small kampung named Kampung Lajau and spent a large part of her childhood.

So you see, I have a lot of attachments to this tiny little town, so it is no wonder that I felt so at home here.

I have some of the fondest memories of Labuan. It is there that I purchased my first car - a black Toyota Vios, at a price that could rival the Perodua Myvi back home. It is also there that I bought my first home - a small 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 study apartment.

Life was simple. Weekdays were spent in the office, and being home meant long hours spent in front of the tv or laptop. Weekends were spent grocery shopping, cleaning house and cooking. And maybe if time was ample enough, then I would embark on small DIY projects. Or if I was lonely, I'd call my colleague, and we'd spent hours just exploring the other side of the island, eating chicken wings freshly roasted at a stall, as the gentle breeze from the sea caresses our hair.

To some, this is paradise. Exotic.

Life is beautiful. But I left.


A few reasons. To be closer to family. To have more interesting things injected into my every day life. To find some eye candy, as I am a woman with needs too (I'm sorry to say that Labuan nightlife is only for the men... way too sleazy).

But there were other reasons as well. A friend asked me about my opinion on the development of Labuan. I believe that I could write an entire essay about my disappointment.

Sure, in a way Labuan developed well under the Federal government since 1984, bringing into it foreign investors and turning it into a business hub, which I am sure some Labuan folk are grateful for. But looking at the developments over the last few years, it would seem as if some certain parties wants Labuan to die a slow and painful death.

I copy a few of my responses (or rather, I aired my frustrations) to my friend's question on Facebook here:-

  • Sabrina Melisa Aripen Well... a few disappointing things happened to me throughout my 4 years of living in Labuan. 1 - Airfare became ridiculously expensive. And lots of flight cancellations. When I first came to Labuan, it cost less than RM100 to fly either way. By the time I left Labuan, it costs over RM200, sometimes up to RM300 for a one way ticket! Then it becomes unattractive to visit Labuan
    Yesterday at 13:44 ·  ·  1

  • Sabrina Melisa Aripen Second, the deterioration of ferry connections between the island and the mainland. Ferry malar rosak saja. And you know what happened when suggestions of another ferry company to service the folk of Labuan. Honestly, I felt like photostating the dictionary with the word 'monopoly' on it and giving to the relevant people. Because they obviously don't know what the word means.
    Yesterday at 13:46 ·  ·  1

  • Sabrina Melisa Aripen There should be more attractive means of transport to connect Labuan to mainland. Not speedboats. Proper passenger ferries to Menumbok, with maybe nice services... like a proper cafe... high class sikit lah! and Menumbok jetty also needs to be improved

  • Sabrina Melisa Aripen Other things... Labuan development seems to be ok lah. But pity lah, so much spent on a huge airport, but so few flights. Labuan needs to be accessible in order for it to develop more. Bring in more people = more $$$

  • Sabrina Melisa Aripen Hotels quite expensive for a small place like Labuan. And some are not properly maintained.

  • Sabrina Melisa Aripen I am not so updated anymore with the offshore trust services in Labuan. Do they still allow marketing offices to be established in KL? Seriously, some people obviously wants to kill Labuan. Because that is the main attraction of foreign investors to the island.
    Yesterday at 13:56 ·  ·  1

  • Sabrina Melisa Aripen Labuan has much tourism potential, to be honest. It is possible, but you need the right people to market it.

The ferry issue was again touched on last year, in November, about introducing 2 new ferry operators. It lasted about a week, then died down again. It is either, the MP doesn't actually live on this side of the planet, or he really doesn't care. And the issue about offshore trust services? True, as confirmed by another friend, with the addition of Johor as well.

If the people of Labuan don't take a stand, I am afraid, that Labuan is facing a certain death.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Homey, I feel sentimental when I read how dedicated another fellow Labuan born is. I read a few weeks back that an "Invest-Labuan" committee will be formed. I wonder who they will have in it. They should consider including you and I in it. Keep in touch and keep the hope alive. Have a great weekend. By the way, my mother is Hainanese and her parents are from Hainan Island. My grandma may know your great great granny.


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