KUCHING: Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has suggested that another area closer to the state capital be developed to replace Bau town.
He said Bau, which spurred the 19th century Borneo gold rush, was located over 30km away from Kuching and this made it hard to attract investments there.
Taib mooted the idea when launching the Bidayuh Graduates Association at a dinner here on Saturday.
Most of Bidayuhs live in Bau, Serian and Lundu districts. A large quantity of gold has been mined in Bau for decades.
The Chief Minister said other Bidayuh areas had progressed well due to their strategic locations. However, he did not say if alternative sites had been identified as Baus replacement.
Bau is accessible from here via a new highway but it bypasses the Bau town. The old Kuching-Bau Road is narrow and winding.
Besides the scenic Tasik Biru (where more gold deposits were discovered in the 1990s) in Bau, the town is well known for its Wind and Fairy Caves, which is a tourist attraction.
However, the surrounding areas of Bau are flood-prone.
Taib also advised the 150-member association to stay apolitical and be more focused in organising programmes to help the Bidayuhs.
The Bidayuhs are now a more progressive community and are receptive to changes, he said.
Taib later approved a RM100,000 launching grant for the association.