Fourth-generation boat builder
Hasmi bin Ali aka Pok Hassan, fourth-generation boat builder
Pulau Duyong, Terengganu
Pok Hassan’s formal education ended at 12 because he did not have a birth certificate and so could not go on to secondary school. At that young age he entered the family’s boat building business as an apprentice, joining his father and six brothers.
Today, Pok Hassan is the foremost among the legendary boat builders of Pulau Duyong, who are renowned for building beautiful seaworthy crafts completely by hand and without any formal plans. He says that boatbuilding requires patience because it takes two years to complete a boat.
Like most of Malaysia’s traditional industries, boat building is also under threat of extinction. Pok Hassan’s business has slowed down considerably in recent years possibly because customers today prefer boats made of fibreglass instead of wood.
To supplement his income, Pok Hassan has opened his home to paying guests. I stayed there for a couple of nights, spending the days exploring the kampung and the beach. It was idyllic and even though all around me teemed with life and activity, I never felt so relaxed and contented.