Since Penang street art mural received overwhelm respond from both local and foreign tourists, now there are more towns within the country starting to follow the step of Penang government as a method to boost their tourism industry.
One of them is my hometown, the town of Swan - Sibu. Recently Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) has kicked off the project of street mural painting at various selected venues. Differ from other places, these murals are done by engaging local artists and the theme for a series of murals are based on Sibu's cultures and lifestyle.
The 1st and the maiden mural been produced in the town was the one that illustrated a wharf coolie/labourer located at Jalan Khoo Peng Loong or currently known as Jalan Khoo Peng Long. This is one of the earliest main road in Sibu town center which is nearest to the mighty Rejang river - the longest river in the country.
When road transport was still in very poor stage in Sarawak in early days, water transport through the Rejang river was once the most important and busiest transportation method that connects various towns in the region. Jalan Khoo Peng Long is where all the wharfs to different parts of the region, such as Kapit, Kanowit, Bintangor, Sarikei and so on was located at those time.
These wharfs had become the transit point for goods and cargo between Sibu and other ports in sarawak, therefore wharf labourers were highly demanded at that time to carry weighty goods such as gunny sack of rice to/from/between cargo ships.
These labourers normally carry the weighty goods on their shoulder and they will bring along a red cloth which was used to cover their head and shoulder before placing the loads on them. This is to prevent direct contact between the rough fabrics with their skin and also as a way to prevent dirt.
There were time when the labourers not feel of using the red cloth, therefore they'll tie it across the waist so that it will not MIA (missing in action). Tying the red cloth hard around the waist somehow seems to give extra strength to the labourers to perform their duty which required plenty of energy. The red cloth also became the fabric to wipe off their sweat after hard works under the hot sun.
Wharf activities at Jalan Khoo Peng Long had slowly dwindled in 1990s following the development of road network which connects more and more towns within the region. Hence, most labourers were gone as well since there were not many job opportunity around anymore.
This is the brief story behind the 1st mural in Sibu town - the wharf coolie or labourer. There are more murals to come and hopefully I can/have motivation to cover each of them one after another. ;)