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Labuan (Federal Territory)

History

Labuan originally belonged to Brunei. It was ceded to the British in 18th Dec, 1846. In 1907, Labuan became one of the Strait Settlements under the British. It was also the only Strait Settlement in Sabah. The other Strait Settlements were Singapore, Malacca and Penang. It was also the only Free Port in Sabah, since the British Colonial era. The Island is aprroximately 35 square miles. It has good anchorage for ships. The word "Labuan" was from the Malay word "Perlabohan", which means sea port, which refelected the status of the Island since ancient time. Today Labuan is the Offshore Financial Centre in East Malaysia. It is also an important Offshore Supply Base for the Oil and Gas Industry in Malaysia.
In 1963, Labuan together with Sabah and Sarawak became independent by joining the Federation of Malaysia. The British came to Labuan one hundred and fifty years ago. Because of its strategic location on the South China Sea and coal deposits, the British hoped to make it a re-fuelling station for the steamships of the day as well as a naval power. Coal mining started in 1846 and today the chimney in the Northern part of the island remains the only relics of its coal-mining days. Labuan was a British naval base to fight the pirates in the Brunei Bay. Some old graves bearing the names of young British officers who died fighting the pirates can still can be seen today at the botanical garden. Labuan town in the early days consisted of a row of Chinese brick shops and cluster of atap houses in the outskirts. The town was named Victoria Town after the British Queen Victoria.

During the Japanese administration in 1942, the island was re-named Maida Island in memory of General Maida,the Chief Commander of the Japanese forces in Borneo who was later killed in an air crash from Bintulu to Labuan. Japanese ruled the island for almost three years from 1942 to 1945.

The liberation of Borneo by the Allied Forces started in Labuan on 10th june 1945. The Australian forces landed in Labuan under the command of General McArthur. The island was reverted back to British rule until 1963.

Labuan was proclaimed a Federal Territory of Malaysia. Labuan as Federal Territory comprises the main island of Labuan and the territories within 4.8 km (three nautical miles) of Labuan, including islands of Rusukan Besar, Rusukan Kecil, Kuraman, Burong, Papan and Daat. The administration of the island was placed directly under the Federal government. The Federal Territory status elevated Pulau Labuan to the mainstream of national development. Lanuan continues to enjoy her free port status as a Federal Territory. Now as a Federal Territory of Malaysia, Labuan is a dynamic town with modern telecommunications facilities. A duty free port designation was well an International Offshore Financial Centre and a centre of attraction for shoppers and tourists

Physical Geography

Lying just 8 km off western coast of Borneo, Labuan is one of the world’s largest islands, Labuan comprises of one main triangle-shaped island and six smaller ones. Covering an area 0f 92 square kilometres, situated at North of Brunei Bay and faces the South China Sea, it is centrally located right in the middle of the Asia-Pacific region. Labuan derives its name from the word ‘pelabohan/ labohan’ meaning anchorage. Labuan experiences a tropical, warm and humid climate year round. The average temperature being 30 Celcius with relative humidity at 80 to 95%. The population of Labuan is very cosmopolitan. Its inhabitans coming from all walks of life as well as different regions around the world, create a diverse and stimulating society. As of 1998, the population number is estimated at 65,000.


Introduction


More than an International Offshore Financial Centre, Labuan is rich in fishing, eco-diving, new opportunities, culture and history. Its upcoming tourist destination that will promise a similar treat as other enchanting islands in Malaysia. Labuan is a duty–free island with offshore banking, satellite telecommunication, secluded beaches and rich fishing ground. Labuan will soon become an island paradise as popular as Pulau Langkawi.Here, beer and liquor are cheaper than some brands of bottled water, and the rich and famous play. You can shop duty free, eat exotic sea food, live in 5-star luxury, sail the dazzling blue water, explore ship wrecks, tackle a sailfish and face off a hammer head shark. Watch a proboscis monkey on mainland Borneo. Board a water taxi for the world’s last water village. Savour Kadayan hospitality. Be moved by the sight of 3,900 graves in Asia’s largest World War II cemetery. Labuan is more than developing offshore synergies. It’s all about strees-free living and having a good time now.

Economy

Business opportunities in Labuan are varied from financial activities to tourist and travel-related industries in conjunction with the Government’s objective of making Labuan a major tourist destination besides its status as an International Offshore Financial Centre. The Government welcomes both foreign as well as local investors to participate on a joint-venture basis. Compared to international Offshore Financial Centres in Europe and the Carribean, Labuan offers many advantages. First, it is in a low operating-cost environment in terms of physical facilities and profesional fees. Apart from easy accessibility, Labuan shares a similar time zone with major cities in Asia, this means phone calls can be made during the same office hours. The corporate tax rate imposed on offshore companies is among the lowest in the world: 3 percent of net profit or merely RM20,000 whichever is chosen by the company. Fourth, dealing with the government is easy. Finally, the operations of offshore institutions are completely free from exchange control regulations when dealing non-residents. Plans are underway to build an Integrated Port and Sea Sports Complex of call at Labuan and sea sports events like Labuan International Big Game Fishing Tournament, Jet Sport Challenge and Underwater Treasure Hunt, held every year has attracted both local and international visitors to this tropical paradise.

Transportation

Air


Lying just eight km off the western coast of Borneo, one of the world’s largest islands. Labuan is accessible daily by air from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Beside Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu serves as the International gateway for Labuan. Royal Brunei also flies direct to Labuan.

Ferry 


For those who wish a more leisurely approach, highspeed air-conditioned ferries ply daily to Labuan from Kota Kinabalu, Sarawak and Brunei. Travelling time to Kota Kinabalu is about two hours and to Brunei is about one hour.

Buses and taxis


Buses and taxis are readily available to take you anywhere around Labuan. It is also important to note that the bus and taxis fares are fixed and that these modes of transport must be well maintained and clean. Car Rental is easily available as well. There are 15 licensed travel agents in Labuan. Some of them specialise in inbound tours, packaged tours, from city tours to diving tours can be arranged by your hotel. Travel agencies will also be able to provide travel arrangements to the rest of Borneo’s diverse range of attractions.

Culture Heritage



The geographical and historical links to Brunei Darusallam country have a major impact on Labuan’s socio-economic and cultural evolution. More than fifty three percent of the island’s 75,500 population claim Brunei-Malay descendence. Brunei language is the leading dialect spoken on the island. The famous water villages of Patau-Patau and Kampung Belulah were set up by the early Brunei-Malays in Labuan, who continued their traditional lifestyle of living in houses on stilts above water. Later they settled inland, establishing communities in Kampung Rancha-Rancha, Lubuk Temiang, Gersik, and Tanjung Aru. The strong influence of their culture and traditions are evident in their everday life. Visitors to their homes are warmly greeted and entertained with good food and company. The younger people normally show their respect to the elders by addressing them as tangah for an older man, and babu for a woman.

The Brunei Malays have may traditional instruments similar to those found in Sabah. The Kulintangan is a set of small gongs on a frame giving out ripples of musical chimes when played. Bigger gongs on a frame giving out ripples of musical chimes when played. Bigger gongs like the Agong and Tawak-Tawak are also played. The instruments which are played during special occasions, especially weddings. Singing and dancing are a high point of such events and guests will join in the dondang and yadan with much gusto.


The Kedayan-they number only slightly less than Brunei-Malays in Labuan and many claim Java origins. They speak a dialect similar to Malay, but have their own distinctive culture. Their knowledge in the use of medical plants is well-known and they grow a wide range of such plants to make tonics, antidotes and medicine. The Kedayan are inland people and build their houses in clusters, with their gardens stretching outwards. They are a close community and inter-marriage among relations are encouraged. The women work as hard as the men, and as such, are entitled to own land. If a man dies, the property goes to his wife as administrator, which onher death, is divided up equally among the children.landless relatives are usually given a piece of property by those who have excess.

Many traditional games are still played here. They include the popular gasing or top-spinning where a wooden top is skillfully released from a coil of rope. Children play it, grown-ups play it. Layang-layang or kite-flying is at its best during competition when competitors score on decoration, flying techniques and aerial maneuvers. Gusti lengan or arm-wrestling, kasut gergasi, a relay race using over-sized wooden planks as shoes and simban, game of stones are other popular past times.


Places to Eat/ Special Foods


Options for eating out in Labuan range from in formal and casual eateries to more established restaurants and haute cuisine. Hawker centres offer fine local delicacies at very reasonable price. Favourite dishes include satay, grilled fish and chicken rice. Labuan has a good mix restaurants offering Asian cuisine. This include Chinese, Indian, Thai, Malay and seafood. All major hotel restaurants in Labuan serve a mixture of asian and western foods.

Shopping
Duty Free Shopping


Labuan is definitely a shoppers’ paradise. Being a free port, a wide range of items can be purchased cheaper than elsewhere. You can go to a posh shopping complex, jostle with bargain hunters during a cheap sale in department store or sweat it out in a night market. Textiles, jewellery, perfume, cosmetic, electrical appliances, sports equipment, kitchenware, alcohol and cigarettes are popular buys in the many department stores.

Labuan Market


The Labuan Market in the heart of Labuan town is a bustling place full of colours, sights, smells and sounds. A variety of local produce such as fruits, vegetables, fresh spices, fish, prawn and handicrafts are sold.


Places of Interest

War Memorial
The War Memorial is a beautiful landscape cemetary. It is dedicated to 3,900 Australia, New Zealand and British servicemen who lost their lives during World War II. It is the Asia’s largest World War II cemetery. Many visitors, especially Australians, come yearly to pay respects to lost relatives and friends. A section is also dedicated to the Indian Soldiers of the Punjab Regiment. This memorial is situated near the Labuan Golf Course on the outskirts of Labuan Town.

An’Nur Jamek Mosque


The An’Nur Jamek Mosque, featuring futuristic architecture, is the pride of Labuan’s Muslims and symbolises the progressive of Labuan.

Labuan Square
Labuan Square is a fascinating park with neat lawns and flora indigenous to Labuan. Its design reflects Labuan’s International Offshore Financial Centre, and is a popular place to stroll or relax.

Kampung Ayer (Water Village)
 
These traditional houses on stilts are joined by a maze of inter-connecting wooden
walkways, and visitors are free to roam at their leisure. There is also a modern water village near Labuan Town complete with seafood restaurants, shooping malls and a boardwalk. In addition, visitors can stay in waterfront chalets or enjoy a host of water sports activities. A visit to Labuan would be incomplete without a trip to this unique and intriguing place.

Financial Park Complex


The Financial Park at Jalan Merdeka houses international offshore banks and trust companies. There is also a 1,500 sitting capacity convention hall and a large shopping mall. This modern complex is reputed to be the only one of its kind to be found in any IOFC throughout the world.

The Chimney

Situated at Tanjong Kubong. The Chimney is a relic from the coal-mining era of Labuan from 1847 to 1912. Labuan was used as a coaling station for ships sailing in the Far East. The coal was transported by a single rail track to Victoria Port.

Peace Park
 
Peace Park is located on the west coast at Layang-Layangan Village. It is dedicated to all fallen soldiers of World War II. Located next to Peace Park is Surrender Point. It was built as a memorial where the commander of the Japanese Army surrendered to the Australian 9th Division on 9th September 1945 which led to the end of World War II in the Borneo.


Islands/ Natural Attractions

Island Hopping
 
Labuan Island and its outlying islands of Papan, Kuraman, Daat, Rusukan Besar, Rusukan Kecil and Pulau Burung (Bird Island) offer clean beaches and you can enjoy a variety of watersports like jet skiing, wind surfing, scuba diving, fishing or wreck diving. Commercialism has not enroached into Labuan’s beaches and you can find lots of privacy there.

(a) Wreck Diving


Labuan offers ideal living conditions all year round for both profesional and amateur divers. Sunken relics of World War II and postwar shipwrecks have made Labuan’s waters the region’s centre for wreck-diving. Diving expeditions can be arranged by your hotel to four major wrecks. American Wreck is located southwest of Pulau Rusukan (Rusukan Island) and about 24 km from Labuan. Australian Wreck lies in 21 metres of water about 23 km from Labuan and southeast of Pulau Rusukan Besar (Rusukan Besar Island). Sunk in 30 metres of water, Cement Wreck is 21 km from Labuan and east of Pulau Kuraman (Kuraman Island). Blue Water Wreck is 34 km offshore from Labuan and northwest of Kuraman Island.

(b) Sport Fishing


Labuan is paradise for sports fishermen. The waters around the island of Labuan is extremely rich in marine life. Commercial exploitation of the marine environment is well controlled resulting in the existence of the vast varieties and quantities of marine life in this area. The warm ocean currents coming in from the surroundings seas bring in a lot of food to sustain the rich marine environment in the area. For the less adventurous anglers, the numerous coral reefs and bottom structures within close proximity of Labuan Island will yield good catches of excellent table fishes such as Black Marlin, Coral Trout, Sweet Lips, Grouper and Red Snapper. For the estuary fishing enthusiast, there are also a number of mangrove swamps on the island which yield good quantities of Barramundi, Mangrove Jacks, Treadfin Salmon and many other estruarine species. There are sportfishing packages to suit everyone, from day trips to week long trips. Equipments for novices to experts are also available and all types of fishing from trolling for marlin to cubing (chunking) for tuna can be arranged.


Hotels

Hotel Sheraton (182 room)
Tel: 087-422 000
Fax: 087-422 222

Tiara Labuan Hotel (76 room)
Tel: 087- 414 300
Fax: 087- 410 195

Waterfront Financial Hotel (94 room)
Tel: 087- 418 111
Fax: 087- 413 468

Manikar Beach Resort (250 room)
Tel: 087- 418 700
Fax: 087- 418 732

Mariner Hotel (60 room)
Tel: 087- 418 822
Fax: 087- 418 811

Victoria Hotel (44 room)
Tel: 087- 412 411
Fax: 087- 412 550

Hotel Global (50 room)
Tel: 087- 425 201
Fax: 087- 425 180

Hotel Pulau Labuan (36 room)
Tel: 087- 416 288
Fax: 087- 416 255

Hotel Pulau Labuan (Branch) (28 room)
Tel: 087- 422 388
Fax: 087- 421 422

Hotel Seri Mutiara ((39 room)
Tel: 087- 417 811
Fax: 087- 416 664

Hotel Federal (43 room)
Tel: 087- 411 711
Fax: 087- 411 337

Pulau Labuan Inn (35 room)
Tel: 087- 416 833
Fax: 087- 411 750

Oriental Hotel (19 room)
Tel: 087- 419 019
Fax: 087- 419 408

Hotel Klasik (38 room)
Tel: 087- 417 233
Fax: 087- 411 849

Hotel south East Asia (22 room)
Tel: 087- 414 112
Fax: 087- 425 180

Hotel Mandarin (17 room)
Tel: 087- 426 922

Southern Hotel ( 20 room)
Tel: 087- 414 211
Fax: 087- 410 788

Asia Hotel ( 14 room)
Tel: 087- 413 605
Fax: 087- 417 712

Melati Inn (9 room)
Tel: 087- 416 307
Fax: 087- 414 757
Pantai View Hotel (36 room)
Tel: 087- 411 339
Fax: 087- 412 793

Sri Villa Hotel (19 room)
Tel: 087- 416 369

Wilayah Inn (8 room)
Tel: 087- 411 227

Services Apartment
Financial Park Kompleks (28 room)
Tel: 087- 419 477
Fax: 087- 425 650


Golf Clubs, Courses & Associations 

Golfing facilities are available at Labuan Golf Club. This club offers the most challenging 9-hole golf course with all amenities provided.

Labuan Golf Club
Tel: 087- 412 711


Labuan State Tourism Department

Labuan Tourist Information Centre
Lot 4260
Jalan Dewan/ Jalan Berjaya
87007 Federal Territory of Labuan
Tel: 087-423455/ 423446
Fax: 087- 423446
E-mail: mtpblbu@tourism.gov.my

Labuan Development Authority
Tourism & Socio-Economic Development Division
1st Floor, Wisma Wong Wo Lo
Jalan Tun Musthapa
P.O. Box 82099
87030 Federal Territory of Labuan
Tel: 087- 417 862
Fax: 087- 417 861
E-mail: lda1@tm.net.my

Sabah Office
Ground floor,
Bangunan EON CMG Life,
No.1, Jalan Sagunting,
80000 Kota Kinabalu
Tel: 088- 248 698, 211 732
Fax: mtpbbki@tourism.gov.my


Travel Bureaus
Airbone Travel Sdn. Bhd.
Tel: 087- 414 4986

HMD Tours & Travel Sdn. Bhd
Tel: 087- 412 257

Victoria Agency House Sdn. Bhd.
Tel: 087- 411 248

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