Seberang in Kuala Sepetang An island like no others

Seberang is a small island that is only about 40 acres in size. It is separated from Kuala Sepetang by a hundred-metre wide river.

Seberang is a privately owned island founded about a hundred years ago.

The island is surrounded by marshlands and mangrove swamps and the residents there only live along the coast.

There are 179 households with a population of more than a thousand people in Seberang. Majority of the residents are fishermen.

Even though the island is small in size, it is well equipped with sundry shops, tea houses and temples but no schools.

Car-free Island

There is only a concrete road that is one kilometre long on the island, and the only vehicles running on the island are bicycles.

Local residents and students have to park their bicycles on the road near the jetty and then travel to Kuala Sepetang on sampan.

Former housing and local government minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan proposed to build a bridge over the river to connect Seberang to Kuala Sepetang when he visited the island in 2009, but the proposal was later abandoned.

As sampan is the only mode of transport for local residents to travel to the mainland, they have to wait for the flood-tide in order to carry large objects such as coffins to Kuala Sepetang.

24-hour Sampan Service

The only mode of transport to Kuala Sepetang is a 10-foot long sampan. In the past, the sampan was paddled by people while today the boat has become motorised and can therefore travel faster. The cost for each trip is only 10 sen and the service is provided round the clock regardless of the weather.

69-year-old Xie Yuan Xin has been carrying residents cross the river to the mainland for the past few decades. He told Sin Chew Daily that he raised eight of his children with the 10 sen he had collected from each of his passengers.

He had no idea since when the service had been started but said that the job had been passed down to him by his father.

Xie earns only about RM30 a day as, he does not collect the fares from students except adults.

Nevertheless, he is still quite fond of this job as it could help support his family and offer him a pertty steady income. He claimed that he had so far not had any accident while carrying his passengers.

Exodus of Young Residents

As Seberang is tiny with a very small population, commercial activities are hard to be developed there. The island is now facing the severe problem of the outflow of young people, just like any other small fishing villages.

Compared to Kampung Pulau Pasir Hitam and Kuala Sangga about 30-minute boat ride away from Kuala Sepetang, Seberang has been more fortunate in that it is provided with water and electricity supplies. (Translated by LIM LIY EE/Sin Chew Daily)

MySinchew 2011.03.24

Location map of Kuala Sepetang