Don’t call Bakun Resettlement Sungai Asap please

Sungai Asap, Belaga.

Do you know that the folks of Sungai Asap resettlement scheme hate the name ‘Sungai Asap’.

According to them, the name is synonymous with misfortune, bad lucks and misery. It might sound a little superstitious.

But, over the last few years, one after another the longhouses build by the government about 20-years ago were destroyed in the fire.

In some cases, the fire had destroyed their longhouses not once, but thrice – as in the case of Uma Badeng.

Pemanca Umek Jeno of Sungai Asap, Belaga – among local community leader urging the Government to rename the resettlement scheme to Apau Koyan. (Facebook/Umek Jeno)

The Sungai Asap Health Clinic had to be rebuilt twice due to fire.

The Ukit of Uma Ukit, the Kayans of Uma Balui Liko and the Lahanan of Uma Lahanan knows all to well the curse of the name Asap – as they had all suffered losing their properties to fire.

Uma in Kayan means house or longhouse.


The name Sungai Asap is invented by someone in the Government without proper consultation with the affected communities.

There is no such river called Asap in the area, but there is one called Sungai Atap, a tributary of Sungai Koyan.

Legend has it that someone in the Land and Survey Department probably had misspelled the name Atap to Asap.

But no one knows what actually transpired.

A section of Uma Badeng destroyed in fire in 2010. (

Lately, they begin to call the place as Apau Koyan – in the hope that they State Government will heed their plea.

However, not everyone at Sungai Asap in favor of the name Apau Koyan.  Many prefer it will be renamed Sungai Atap instead.

Yup, agreed. Government should heed them. After all, renaming a place is common practiced in Sarawak.

How many of us remember Binatang – now Bintangor or where is Simanggang – now Sri Aman.

In Bintulu, a couple of years ago Tanjung Batu was renamed Pantai Temasya. An uproar of protest prompted the reversal back to ‘Tanjung Batu’ – what it is being known all along.

Apau Koyan (Sungai Asap-Koyan) Cultural Festival in 2015.