Labu Estate Rubber Industrial Site identified as potential tourist attraction
THE Labu Estate Rubber Industrial Site in the Temburong district has potential to become one of Brunei’s tourist attractions and complement its role as an educational site for students and researchers, said the Penghulu of Mukim Labu Hj Abdurahman Hj Nasir.
In an interview with The Brunei Times, Hj Abdurahman said the Labu Estate Rubber Industrial Site, which is laid out in an ‘open site museum’ concept, has significant historical, economic and cultural values.
He added that officials from Tourism Department under the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, and Museums Department have visited the site to assess its potential for tourism.
The site is evidence of the commercial plantation and agriculture activity that contributed to the country’s economy back in the 1900s, he said.
Speaking on the site’s economic value, the grassroots leader said in addition to being the first site for Brunei’s early agricultural era, it was also provided employment to locals.
On the cultural and educational value of the site, Hj Abdurahman said the it provides opportunities for Brunei’s younger generation to see closely the economic activities practised by the country at the time.
The Museums Department received royal consent to gazette an area of nine acres of the site under the Antiquities and Treasure Trove Act 1967 (revised 1984; 1991; 2002) in February 2006 for preservation.
It was officially launched as an open site museum in August 2010 by the then Temburong Acting District Officer, Hj Afero Eswandy Hj Mohamad. The site is monitored collectively by the Museums Department and Kg Labu Estate Consultative Council.
Since its official launching, the site is popular amongst secondary schools and tertiary level students as well as researchers interested to know more about the rubber industrial site.
The site is the only site in the country specifically related to the rubber industry, he said.
The site houses the smokehouse, dry godown (where dried rubber was weighed and packed for export), generator house and storage hall.
Members of the public interested to visit the site can contact the Institution of Mukim and Kampung Section at 5221265.
Hj Abdurahman also shared some of the site’s historical background.
Labu Estate Rubber Industrial Site is located 16 km from Bangar Town. The site was chosen as one of the earliest rubber plantation as it was the most successful and largest agricultural area, he said.
In 1908, the first rubber trees were planted along the Sungai Labu area, now known as Labu Estate.
The estate was assigned to Brunei (Borneo) Rubber and Land Company Limited. In 1914, rubber production reached 5,894 pounds and saw the beginning of rubber product exportation.
According to Hj Abdurahman, initially, locals were employed. However by 1930, foreign workers were brought in to work in the 3,000-acre rubber plantation.
Hj Abdurahman’s grandfather and father were among the plantation’s local workers.
“I am the third generation in my family who has called this village home. I feel proud that the government has made an effort to make sure that the site is not forgotten,” he said.
In mid 1930s, a new smoke rubber production technique was introduced which increased the quality of rubber produced and led to the increase in rubber price.
The 1950s saw the highest quantity of rubber produced (2,558 tonnes) but later, rubber production began to decline. In 1968, Brunei (Borneo) Rubber and Land Company Limited was bought back by the Brunei Government, marking the end of rubber industry era.
The Brunei Times