PEKAN, October 21 : The Sultan of Pahang, HRH Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah, today officially launched the newly renovated Sultan Abu Bakar Museum which is expected to boost tourism-related activities in the royal town, located in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER).

The launch marked the museum’s official reopening after an extensive one-year, RM16 million upgrading and refurbishment works undertaken by the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) in collaboration with the State Government.

The rejuvenation of Sultan Abu Bakar Museum is part of the Pekan Heritage Waterfront project which was officially launched by ECERDC earlier in April to further stimulate tourism activities in the royal town. The overall project will ultimately benefit Pekan residents through the creation of new jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Also present at today’s ceremony were the Sultanah of Pahang HRH Sultanah Hajjah Kalsom, the Tengku Mahkota of Pahang, HRH Tengku Abdullah and Tengku Puan Pahang, HRH Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, Tengku Muda Pahang, HRH Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah and Cik Puan Muda Pahang, YABhg. Cik Julita Aishah Abdul Latif, Pahang Menteri Besar, YAB Dato’ Sri DiRaja Adnan Yaakob, as well as ECERDC Chief Executive Officer, YBhg. Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John.

Already well-known as one of the main tourist attractions in Pekan, the museum was temporarily closed since 2005 due to the much needed restoration and renovation works. During the same period, the royal town has seen a significant drop in the number of visiting tourists. For instance, tourist arrivals in Pekan dwindled to 16,000 in 2009 from 56,000 in 2007.

“With the reopening of this museum, we are confident that Pekan will witness a resurgence in tourist arrivals and the Sultan Abu Bakar Museum will once again emerge as one of the key tourism destinations in Pahang in particular, and ECER in general,” said ECERDC Chief Executive Officer, YBhg. Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John.

To further promote tourism actitivites in the district, various cultural events have and will be organised, such as “Karnival Rakyat Pekan”, to add extra allure in Pahang’s event calendar.

“All these are expected to boost the number of visitors to Pekan to 700,000 annualy by 2020 and create over 900 new jobs for the locals,” Dato’ Issace said.

As part of the Pekan Heritage Waterfront project, the surrounding areas near the Museum have also been upgraded and enhanced by ECERDC to improve accessibility to the Museum. A pedestrian bridge connecting the Museum to the nearby mosque has also been constructed, while Jalan Sultan Ahmad in front of the Sultan Abdullah Mosque has also been upgraded.

ECERDC is also constructing a modern food court at the Pekan Heritage Waterfront as well as a marketing and exhibition complex for small and medium enterprises, which are expected to be ready in the fourth quarter of 2013.

“Through the establishment of this complex, more local traders and small entrepreneurs would be able to market and sell their products, which include local food and handicrafts such as the Tenun Pahang heritage fabric,” Dato’ Issace said.

He added that the overall Pekan Heritage Waterfront initiative is expected to raise visitor expenditure in Pekan from RM185 per visitor per trip to RM350 per visitor per trip. The project will also help strengthen the knowledge, skills and participation in the local arts, culture and heritage.

“In the future, we are also proposing to refurbish and upgrade the nearby Sultan Abdullah Mosque into an Islamic Museum, which will help preserve the mosque legacy,” he noted.

Originally built in 1888, the Sultan Abu Bakar Museum has undergone various transformation over the years and served for various purposes. Among others, it has been used as the home of the first British Residence in Pahang, a Japanese army headquarters during the World War II and subsequently, the palace of the late Sultan Abu Bakar, prior to becoming the state museum back in 1976.

Incorporating “The Intellectual Garden” concept, the newly refurbished museum has also introduced the use of modern technology, such as touchscreen displays, at its exhibition halls. The curation of the museum artefacts and exhibits has received the special touch of various well-known professionals in their respective areas of expertise, such as YM Raja Shariman Raja Aziddin, YM Raja Azhar Raja Idris, Dato’ Bernard Chandran, Datin Sharifah Kirana, Ramli Ibrahim, Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr. Nik Hassan Shuhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman and Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr. Hood Salleh, among others.