Sarawak diminishing culture caused by Taib's greed. Sound exaggerated ? It's not. While Taib want to promote Sarawak local culture, tradition and scenery as a tourism product to global market, he have forgotten that the culture among Sarawak's natives is diminishing.
To attract world travelers, local culture must be as unique as possible and the locality easily accessible and equipped with proper facilities. And to show case the culture, you need people. Now, in reality, most natives that have reach their working age are not in their kampong or longhouse. Most of them have migrated to major cities and towns such as Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Bintulu. They did that because there is no job opportunity near their village or longhouse.
It's Taib fault for not bringing enough development to the rural area and cause massive urban migration among rural dwellers. In addition, officers from Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) are bunch of jet setters who travel overseas for so-called "market survey" instead of coming up with plans to develop local tourism.
Look at Sabah, tourism is a major contributor to their state revenue and the natives there, earn good cash from tourists expenses or spending. Because of tourists influx, the natives in Sabah understand that they must keep their culture because it attract tourists. In turn, government have one headache less in employment worry since tourism at remote Sabah provide sufficient jobs.
So back to Sarawak, if there is no tourists going to the longhouse, the working adults definitely need to move elsewhere to earn a living. Taib and his tourism board should study from Sabah Tourism Board and learn how they successfully market Sabah to international travelers.
And when it come to sceneries, Sarawak fares the worst among all states in Malaysia. What Sarawak have to offer other than Mulu Caves ? Jungles sceneries ? Well, if there are still jungles left. Most jungles are already bare due to excessive logging (which Taib has big interest) or converted into oil palm plantations (yes, Taib also has interest in plantations). And due to excessive logging, the mighty Rajang River has now turned into MUDDY Rajang River and I sure residents of Sibu will be ashamed to show-case their Rajang River scenery. Decades ago, Rajang River used to be very beautiful and scenic. Now, if you see Rajang River, you probably be tempted to drink the river water because it look like "Teh Tarik" or "Teng-O-Peng", all thanks to siltation from upriver.
Taib's greed has caused destruction to the natural scenery in remote Sarawak, and also diminishing culture like what happen to the Penans and Orang Ulu due to destruction to their jungles.
There are some nice sceneries and spots in Sarawak that need to develop into a tourism stop, it's just that Taib is not bother about tourism and so STB is still sleeping. If you talk about jungles and eco-tourism, Taib will fall asleep. If you talk about jungles and timber logs, he will grin from ear to ear. Of course, some nitwits from Sarawak state cabinet even proposed for a cable-car up Mount Santubong.
Another area that Sarawak Tourism Board, under Taib administration failed miserably is the sustaining of tourism revenue. We look again at Sabah Tourism and their business model, tourists from Japan, Korea, Australian, US and Europe fly half-way around the world to flock to Sabah daily and by bus-load. They are awed by the natural setting of Sabah from mountain-high to divine underwater to local culture of the Kadazan-Dusun, Bajaus and other natives.
Ask any tourists who have been to Borneo:
* which dance from Borneo that they remember. It is ngajat or sumazau. 90% will remember sumazau.
* which moonshine from Borneo that they remember. It is leheng or langkau. 90% will remember leheng.
* which maiden from Borneo that they remember. It is induk or sumandak. 90% will remember sumandak.
* which festival from Borneo that they remember. It is keamatan or gawai. 90% will remember keamatan.
* which native from Borneo that they remember. It is Iban or Kadazan. 90% will remember Kadazan.
Sarawak on the other hand, is only able to organize a seasonal festival like Gawai or Pesta Kaul. That attracts tourists, if any, only for the occasion. Don't be surprised if the state government spend millions of Ringgit to organize such events. And the return from tourists that flocked to see and experience Gawai or Kaul festival ? Probably, a couple of hundreds of Ringgit.
Thus, if Taib did not stop his exploit on Sarawak natural resources, the culture of Sarawak natives will disappeared together with it's tradition.
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Source: theborneopost.com/?p=34675 (Apr 27, 2008)
Preserve culture for the world to see: Taib
By Gaing Kunding
MUKAH: Local cultures and lifestyle have emerged to become a lucrative tourism product that every Sarawakian should strive to preserve, safeguard, enhance and showcase to the global market.
“We must see that the tourists of today are not the tourists of pre-war days. They are rich, they like travelling very much, enjoying themselves around the world according to their own preferences. Happily, a good portion of them love to see our unique cultures,” Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said when he officiated at the Mukah Kaul Festival 2008 held at Kala Dana Beach here yesterday.
According to him, the middle class of the world now take pride in being able to travel to many places, enjoying the natural beauty, food, people and places to satisfy their curiosity.
“In order to captivate these world travellers, we must make the best of our tourist products… food, culture, tradition and scenery and make them part of the showcase that Borneo can offer the world,” he said.
On the prospect of growth, Taib said: “Today we have more than three million visitors coming to Sarawak. This year we expect more than 3.6 million people.
“As you can see, Kuching has been recognised as a possible hub to explore Southeast Asia, bringing people from North to South and vice-versa to enjoy the beautiful heritage in Southeast Asia.
“There is already a link with Jakarta, and soon with Bali, both of which are rich in unique tradition and culture. Clearly, tourism is our culture’s best market.”
Taib went on to commend the community for successfully organising the Kaul Festival over the years, which in the process enabled the enrichment of the Melanau culture.
He called on the other communities, namely the Malays, Ibans, Bidayuhs and Orang Ulus to do likewise to tap into the tourism market.
“It would be nice for the upcoming Baram Regatta to highlight the culture and tradition of the Orang Ulu community.
“I have suggested to the State Secretary Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot, who is a Bidayuh, to also come up with an event in Serian area to be celebrated in conjunction with the upcoming 45th Anniversary Celebration of Sarawak’s Independence through Malaysia, to showcase the Bidayuh culture and customs,” said Taib.
The Chief Minister called on all the natives and the indigenous people of Borneo to work together in pooling their creative talents for the world to see.
Among those at function were Taib’s wife Datuk Amar Puan Sri Laila, Deputy Chief Minister Dauk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang and Minister of Tourism Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh.