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The heyday is gone

  • Today, Nibong Tebal is home to a firefly sanctuary and a place for non-professional fishing. Photo ocourtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Sg Kerian was the only waterway connecting Penang Island and north Perak in early days and thus, it naturally became a bustling transportation and business hub. Photo ocourtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • The bird's nest industry being developed in the 2000s has been hit in the past three years. Photo ocourtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • The jetty was busy in the past but is quiet today. Photo ocourtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • After a bridge was built to connect northen Perak and southern Penang, Nibong Tebal became an old town with no condition to develop. Photo ocourtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Nibong Tebal is no longer an important transportation hub. Photo ocourtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Nibong Tebal is no longer an important transportation hub. Photo ocourtesy: Sin Chew Daily

Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily

Nibong Tebal is a small tranquil town situated at the downstream of Sg Kerian. The town was developed due to the river and with the end of the canal era, Nibong Tebal no longer played the role of a transportation hub, causing the town to lose its business opportunities and gradually withered away.

The date the small town was built is unknown but an ancient temple was built in 1866.

The river was the only waterway connecting Penang Island and north Perak in early days and thus, it naturally became a bustling transportation and business hub.

It was a prosperous canal era in the 1930s but after the British built a bridge connecting northern Perak and southern Penang, Nibong Tebal no longer served as an important transportation hub and local businesses were greatly affected. As a result, it became an old town with no condition to develop.

Today, Nibong Tebal is home to a firefly sanctuary and a place for non-professional fishing.

After losing its canal advantage in the 1930s, main Seberang Perai Selatan government departments were moved out of the Nibong Tebal and local businesses were again greatly affected. Also, the bird's nest industry being developed in the 2000s has been hit in the past three years.

Some people said that it is better to take Nibong Tebal as a good place to enjoy retirement life rather than hoping it to restore prosperity.

Local resident Ji Zhao Cai, 70, used to be a fisherman when he was young but became a vendor 30 years ago as seafood catches could no longer sustain life. Fishing freshwater shrimps could only be made a hobby today but not an occupation.

He said that even firefly admiration tours have greatly reduced and it is forecast that the eco-tourism cannot last for long.

Since he is aware that the town no longer possess development potential, Ji encourages young people to develop their careers outside.

Coffee shop owner Chen Wen Qian, 76< said that he could vaguely remember the prosperity of the town during his childhood.

"My grandfather and father were from China and the coffee shop was founded by my grandfather. It has over a hundred of history but there will be no one taking over after my generation," he said.

"Almost all businesses in the town face customer reduction problem.

"I remember that when I was young, the shop closed for business only on the first day of Chinese New Year and it was filled with customers every morning.

Today, it has to be closed after the morning session," he said.

Local resident Cai Shao Hua said that in the early 19th century, the river was the only waterway connecting Nibong Tebal and the outside world.

He said that Chinese residents started small-scaled plantation of sugar cane in the 18th century, and a jetty was built to ship sugar cane .It was when the canel era of Nibong tebal was started.

He believes that there is no panacea for the fall of the small town.

 

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