Tourism players here gave the thumbs-up to the proposed setting up of the Rajang Area Security Command (Rascom) museum, seeing it as a potential income earner to boost the sluggish local tourism industry.

Believed to be the first of its kind in the country (if it materialises), veteran tourism player Robert Tan recalled how an army museum in Hainan Island, China had drawn huge crowds and raked in lucrative earnings for its tourism industry.

He said among others, museums like these enrich the knowledge of visitors and could entice them to buy souvenirs.

Tan, who is the managing director of Equitorial Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd, however, suggested that the initiative needs to start at the local front before progressing to the international level.

"I recalled visiting an army museum in Hainan Island, China and was impressed by what they had to offer. They don’t just display the war history but also the various equipment and gear used.

"Tourists also get to take home souvenirs such as army kitchen knives approved by the local government as gifts item. I am craving for another visit there,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.

There are briefings and slide shows, enriching the knowledge of visitors, he added.

On the proposed Rascom museum, he said many people would be keen to find out about the confrontation in the 60s and the communist insurgency during the early 70s and 80s.

He said Rascom was considered to be the largest military presence ever stationed in Sibu.

"As such, this makes it an interesting part of history where visitors can enrich their knowledge and better appreciate the importance of peace and security. They will get a feel of how it was like then during curfew time,” Tan said.

He was asked to respond to the Ninth Infantry Brigade’s proposal to set up a Rascom museum at the military camp at Mile 10, Ulu Oya Road here.

Its commander Brigadier-General Datuk Stephen Mundaw said the museum would display among others, relics from the communist insurgency era in the Rajang Basin in the 1970s, including the history of Rascom’s formation.

Added Tan: “This is indeed a very positive development for the tourism sector, enabling Sibu to stand out from the crowd. This will provide the town with an advantage over tourists preferred destinations such as Kuching and Miri.”

The proposed army museum, he went on to say, would provide spin-offs for tourism players.

Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) deputy chairman Daniel Ngieng on the other hand said such a museum would be a good starting point to recollect past incidents.

"I believe this would be of much interest to students and organisations be it for research or school assignments. We definitely welcome such a move as it is a step forward in projecting the past for the younger generations to better appreciate and treasure,” Ngieng pointed out.

He figured in the long run, it would entice tourists to make a visit to the town.

Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association chairman Johnny Wong Sie Lee reckoned that with the added attraction, it would also give more reasons for visitors to stay longer here.

"With more places of interest to visit, tourists will certainly look forward to visit Sibu,” Wong opined.

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