Thursday March 7, 2013
Kg Simunul a maze of walkways
SEMPORNA: For outsiders entering any of the squatter colonies scattered around Semporna's coastline, one could easily get lost within the maze of rickety walkways connecting the houses.
The colonies, referred to as villages here, have several main “lorong,” or lanes, extending 100m out to sea.
Houses are built along the walkways, and smaller walkways connecting larger ones branch out at intervals of two or three houses.
These smaller bridges can link entire villages together and provide endless twists and turns between the houses.
Villagers live in large homes, up to 800sq ft built to accommodate two generations of family.
According to district officer A.M. Ibnu A. K. Baba, it is the culture in Semporna for families to have very close ties.
“Mixed marriages between locals and refugees escaping conflict in southern Philippines helped create strong family ties,” he said, referring to the influx of immigrants which expanded the colonies.
The largest of the squatter colonies is Kampung Simunul, located within walking distance from Semporna town.
“The current residents are the second or third generation,” he said, adding that the Bajau people make up the majority of the population while the Suluk are a minority.
Ibnu said the unplanned expansion of the villages poses problems for outsiders, as well as the residents themselves.
“The shooting incident was an eye-opener for us. This showed us that many things can go wrong, “ he said.
“For example, enforcement officers have a difficult time finding their way around, or to even enter the villages. Also, there are no signs to help.”
“In case of fire, the way the houses are built - so close to each other - has become a hazard and firemen will also have a difficult time entering the villages,” he added.
Kampung Simunul was the site of an ambush where six policemen were killed by Sulu gunmen on Saturday.
According to Ibnu, the village is notorious for criminal elements and that was not the first shootout there.
“In my six years as district officer, there have been two or three such incidents. But this shooting is the most high profile,” he said.
Lahad Datu: Security forces expand hunt
Dozens linked' to Sulu gunmen held for questioning
Pray for our country's heroes, says Najib
Ministers show pix of slain intruders
Police arrest four men during sweep in Semporna
Mosques, churches and temples band together to offer prayers
Slain policeman laid to rest in Sarawak
Netizens call on all Malaysians to stand united
Sabahans reject sultanate's claims to state
Prof: Use of arms justified
MCA pays tribute to security forces
State governments to assist families of the fallen heroes too
Travellers told to exercise caution
Selangor Mentri Besar slams Tian Chua
Aquino: Jamalul putting Filipinos in Sabah at risk
Farmer hounded by memory of strangers brandishing guns
MNLF elements among invaders
Claimants to Sulu throne blast Jamalul's actions
We are not involved, says MILF