Meet Siti Shafina: Kuala Langat Community Host Champion
Having been part of the first Selangor’s Community Host Programme, an initiative which is widely known as the first ever in the nation, Siti Shafina has become one of the prominent local tour guides.
We made our way to Kuala Langat to meet Siti, a knowledgeable tour guide for this district. Our itinerary included stops at various historical and cultural sites. First on our tour was Istana Bandar, built in 1899 by Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah. As the then-Sultan of Selangor, he visited the palace every Friday to pray at the mosque nearby. Afterwards we went to Taman Rekreasi Paya Bakau in Kampung Sijangkang – an important local community project site.
While we were in Kuala Langat, we had the opportunity to interview Siti regarding her experience as a Selangor Community Host. Siti then started warming up to us by explaining what the one of its kind program is really about.
Selangor Community Host Programme
The Selangor Community Host programme has been implemented by the state government of Selangor to train and recognize “local community host” that will act as ‘tellers’ of the interpretation of local places, heritage, and culture to visitors and tourists. The training program for the Selangor Community Host is the first program organized to have and train local tour guides throughout the State of Selangor, and is seen to provide job opportunities and to contribute to the source of income of the local economy, especially for the tourism industry. The program is licensed under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture which is relatively new as it was formed in 2018.
Travel & Live Like Local
Tourism Selangor has made sure that travelers get the best of both worlds if they are traveling withing the Selangor are. Experience the local culture, food, and hospitality that travelers can only get from someone who was born and raised in the area, and an expert guide to lead you to places that only locals know about. Siti Shafina is one of these tour guides—she’s been involved in the tourism industry since 2006, and she’s proud to represent her hometown now as a member of Selangor Community Host Programme.
Siti Shafina is the perfect host for your next trip to Kuala Langat.
As a local, she knows all the best places to go and how to get there—and if you’re in need of a more historical perspective, she’s got that too. She’s soft-spoken, warm, and attentive to every question. Under the blazing hot sun, she answered every question calmly and concisely, leaving no detail behind. No wonder, she is one of the best local hosts in Kuala Langat under this special programme.
As a woman who is always on the go, we are curious to know how does she handle work-life balance as her everyday work requires her to be out most days.
Working for Selangor Community Host Programme is considered on a freelance basis as Siti Shafina mentioned so for her, work-life balance doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. She works whenever there is a tourist group requesting a tour guide for Kuala Langat area. It can sometimes be half a day or even one full day. Other than those times, as a mother, Siti Shafina will be home doing chores, spending time with family and children as well as have her leisure time. She knows when and how to take time for herself and not to push herself to hard for work. Her family also seems to be very supportive and understanding of her job as a Selangor local host.
How did you manage to be one of the best Selangor Community Host?
Living her whole life in Kuala Langat, Siti Shafina feels she can provide the best tour of the area. She prides herself on showing people places and telling stories that only people who have grown up there know. These special spots and tales can offer tourists a unique insight into life there and make their experience unforgettable after they leave. As Siti Shafina puts it: sometimes what outsiders think they understand about a place differs greatly from what a local knows.
How did Tourism Selangor support and help you in being the most successful Selangor’s Community Host Programme?
Expressing my gratitude to Tourism Selangor for providing me this opportunity, it has enabled me to share my local knowledge with visitors. Additionally, being part of the program has allowed me to become a top-notch tour guide as well.
Following the licensing process, Tourism Selangor has remained committed to supporting the Selangor Community Hosts. Among them is Siti, who showcased her proposal at a pitch competition held by Tourism Selangor in hopes of rekindling tourism activity in the region. Fortunately for Siti, she was granted with funds necessary to start the adopt-a-tree campaign at Taman Rekreasi Paya Bakau Kg Sijangkang.
Have you been harassed or discriminated against on the job?
In the hospitality industry, it’s not uncommon to deal with a variety of people—some of whom will be more demanding and difficult than others. We’d like to know if you have ever experienced any form of harassment or discrimination while working in this industry.
The discrimination has never happened while working as a Selangor Community Host however she has experienced such treatment in her previous job.
She said, “During meetings, my comments or suggestions are often ignored while other colleagues’ comments and suggestions are acknowledged even though those comments and suggestions are similar to what I have voiced out,”
Siti, who has been working as a community host for Selangor Community Hosts since 2017, is happy with the discrimination-free environment she now works. She says that she is happier now working here since discrimination seems to be something that doesn’t exist within it.
How do you deal with fear and doubt? How does your role look different now vs. when you first started?
When we’re venturing into something new, it’s easy to feel afraid and doubt ourselves. We know that success is possible, but we don’t always believe in ourselves enough to make it happen.
But Siti Shafina doesn’t let that stop her. She knows that you gotta do what you gotta do—and if you don’t try, you’ll never get the hang of it. When she first started working with Selangor Community Host, it was a challenge to attract tourists to choose them as tour guide. But they opted for an online virtual visit rather than the traditional offline physical visit which got them to gain more exposure.
Practice makes perfect: if you don't try something new, how will you ever get good at it?
Lastly, we asked for a piece of advice that she wants to give to the women out there working towards their dream.
Siti’s advice to all the women out there is that whether you are a mother, a daughter, or whatever the status is, don’t make it out as an obstacle. Even if it’s hard or there are many challenges to face, don’t stop chasing your dreams and work hard until you reach them.
We ended our fun interview with Siti at Taman Rekreasi Paya Bakau in Kampung Sijangkang and we were in for a surprise when she recommended a place for lunch. We drove there, only to find out that the total bill of a good malay Nasi Campur for almost 8 people was only RM80(including drinks)! Only local knows best, so I guess we’ll be back again next time!
Till we meet again, Siti Shafina. And big thanks to Tourism Selangor for organizing this interview!
Also, if you’re looking to visit some places, don’t forget to Pusing Selangor Dulu and stop by Kuala Langat. You’ll be amazed on the number of places that you can visit such as Istana Bandar, Taman Rekreasi Paya Bakau, and many more. Let Siti Shafina show you around!
The royal palace of Sultan Sir Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah, the fifth Sultan of Selangor, is a beautiful example of Malay architecture. The palace has many rooms, including a royal bath (Kolam Mandi Diraja), throne room (Balai Rong Seri), banquet room (Kamar Santap Diraja), bedrooms (Kamar Beradu), audience halls (Balai Mengadap), verandah (Sotoh), kitchen (Dapur) and a “forbidden garden” (Taman Larangan). Istana Bandar was constructed using high-quality cengal timber and marble. Its design is largely Islamic, mainly of Indian and Middle-Eastern origin. There is also some Chinese influence (the roof’s carved fascia board and sisik naga or dragon fin), as craftsmen from China were involved in the palace’s construction.
Fun Fact : One of the scenes in Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam, a popular Malaysian film, was shot here.
Taman Rekreasi Paya Bakau Overview
Paya Bakau is a remarkable community effort to transform a garbage dump into an eco-tourism attraction. They deserve a big round of applause. The Taman Rekreasi Paya Bakau Kampung Sijangkang serves as an educational park to raise awareness about the importance of mangroves, particularly in light of the 2004 tsunami. In 1892, Indonesian immigrants from Kg Pendamaran Klang were the first to explore the area before settling down in Kampung Sijangkang; its name comes from the river and pokok jangkang (stilt trees). The recreational park is currently funded through crowdfunding from villagers. One of its objectives is to increase public knowledge and appreciation of nature and mangrove swamps, so they have tagged various information boards onto trees. It’s a commendable effort as it allows us to learn about the trees’ names. This place is truly beautiful – you should definitely pay it a visit and appreciate how much effort local people have put in with little salary. They do this out of love for their home, proving that with teamwork amazing things can be achieved! Companies like Petronas, Canon and many more have also come forward to donate which you can also support by visiting this area.
Do follow @TourismSelangor @MajlisPerbadananKualaLangat and @DiscoverKualaLangat on Facebook or Instagram to discover interesting places around Selangor area. Alternatively, you can also visit Tourism Selangor’s website to discover more places : https://selangor.travel/