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Friday April 23, 2010

Miri Petroleum Museum gives poor taste to visitors

drose@thestar.com.my

THE Miri Petroleum Museum, which stands on Canada Hill, has a breathtaking view of the Miri city centre and the South China Sea. Within its walls, visitors are taken on a journey into the history of Sarawak’s petroleum industry.

The museum is easily one of the main tourist attractions in Miri. Sadly, just five years its officially opening, it is in bad shape.

StarMetro visited the museum recently and found it unkempt and dusty. The air conditioners were not functioning and there was a lone Australian tourist.

Flipping through the museum visitors book, there were 31 complaints of heat and stuffiness since April 8 this year.

After 20 minutes in the building on a hot day, one would feel like one was in a sauna.

Simulation: An earthquake experience in a car at the museum.

A total of 123 visitors toured the museum since April 8.

The attractive displays with lots of fun and interactive activities were fantastic but there were no personnel around to assist.

To make matters worse, there was a glaring error in the name of former Baram Resident Mr Claude de Crisping on a plaque. In the Bahasa Malaysia translation, his name was “En Claude Champion de Drisping”.

Local journalist Ling Ching Ching had taken the matter up with Sarawak Museum director Ipoi Datan on February 10.

Ipoi replied in an email dated February 23 saying: “Thank you for your constructive comment about the spelling errors. We will take action to rectify it as soon as possible.”

StarMetro tried to contact Ipoi for an update but he could not be reached.

Miri City Council Mayor Lawrence Lai, meanwhile, said he was aware of the problem and had received similar complaints.

“The council, however, has no jurisdiction over the museum’s internal maintenance. We have spent our own money to cut grass and clear the rubbish outside. Many members of the public have the misconception that the Petroleum Museum is under our care. They are wrong, it is officially under the care of Sarawak Museum Department.

“I have urged Sarawak Museum to take the matter seriously and take immediate action. The museum is a unique tourism attraction for Miri,” he said.

The lone Australian tourist David Woolscobb, 51, was nevertheless impressed by the displays but commented that it was very quiet.

“It could be an interesting place for tourists but it is not easy to reach. There is no public transport to get here,” he said.

Woolscobb also commented on the non-functioning air-conditioning system and the abandoned atmosphere of the place.

“Its a pity,” said Woolscobb, a first-time visitor to Miri and Sarawak.

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