Friday, April 24, 2015

New faces to perform at Sabah Fest


KOTA KINABALU: Talents and skills of indigenous communities will be paramount in portraying the state’s rare and uniquely diverse heritage during the 2015 Sabah Fest, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.

He said the ministry would pursue an authentic production by transforming the festival into another avenue that will truly unearth, nurture and showcase local talents beyond the realms of the Sabah Cultural Board (LKS).

“We are not engaging the Sabah Cultural Board performers this year because we want to train and extend the opportunity to new faces. The ministry also wants to expand the search of dance talents in Sabah outside of the confinements of the ministry’s Sabah Cultural Board,” explained the minister during the festival’s press conference here yesterday.

However, Masidi said the ministry would not completely exclude LKS from the production.

“We will use the board’s in-house choreographers for the show. I am a person who likes to give opportunities to our own people. The show will be choreographed by locals,” he clarified.

He said the ministry would also increase the existing language accessibility of this year’s Sabah Fest to cater for locals as well as foreign visitors of the event and amplify foreign influences in the state in the showcase through elements such as music.

The three-day festival, to be held at the National Department for Culture and Arts in Sabah (JKKNS) from May 1 to 3, will revolve around the cultures and legends of indigenous communities found in localities around the state’s “Agop”, which means cave in Ida’an language, stated the minister.

“Agop” is familiar to Sabah’s rarely known East Coast communities, namely the Ida’an, Orang Sungai, Dusun Begak and Dusun Subpan, who identify with the mysterious ancient cave culture, tradition and practices.

Our caves have played an important role in East Coast Sabah’s civilization growth and the establishment of a trade centre there, said Masidi.

“We will exhibit the cave findings that have triggered the commercialization of the bird’s nest product that has lured the people of China to come here since then and till today,” he stated while adding that communities would also have likely established trade with sultanates in Kalimantan and surrounding Kingdoms.

Sabah Fest will stage the “Agop” musical show daily throughout the festival and hold a special premier show on May 2 this year, which will be attended by the Head of State and Chief Minister, said Masidi.

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Mulu national park tourist arrivals steady


KUCHING: International tourist arrivals to Mulu National Park (NP) are double that of domestic visitors.

“In 2013 the number of international tourists in Mulu NP arrivals was 12,871 and the local tourists was 6,286.

This number increased in 2014 when international tourists was 13,635 and local 6,549,” said Assistant Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip during the fourth day of the state legislative assembly sitting.

He stated that the number of both international and local tourists had increased over the past two years.

“This shows that the interest of international tourists in Mulu NP is already there and expected to be continued in the future,” Talib said.

He also mentioned that tourist activities planned for the next two years for Mulu NP included daily scheduled tours to Deer/Lang cave and Bat Exodus, Cave of the Winds/ Clearwater Cave, Fast Lane (Lagong cave via longboat) and Mulu Canopy Skywalk Tour.

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Experience Gawai in a Iban longhouse


MIRI: Members of the public yet to celebrate Gawai in a Iban longhouse setting are welcome to Gawai Dayak 2015 celebrated at Gua Long House Chalet, about 30 minutes from the city centre.

Themed ‘A Day at the Longhouse’ the event organised by the homestay will take place on Sunday (April 26).

Organising chairlady Letycia Sima Linang said this Gawai Dayak organised at their property is open to the public free of charge.

The Harvest Festival which is a platform to promote the Dayak lifestyle is meant to draw visitors to the property and to Miri in general.

The one-day celebration will commence at 8am with a zumba exercise followed by games, competitions and karaoke contest offering various attractive prizes.

The Gawai will start with a ‘miring’ and local band ‘Bujang Bungai Terung’ will perform.

The highlight of the celebration at Gua Long House Chalet will be the Kumang and Keling Gawai Contest at 7pm.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Officials: Sumatran rhino is extinct in the wild in Sabah


Malaysian officials admit the Bornean rhino may only be represented by three surviving captive animals

There are no Sumatran rhinos left in the wild in the Malaysian state of Sabah, confirmed Masidi Manjun, the Tourism, Culture and Envi­ronment Minister, over the weekend. In 2008, conservationists estimated there were around 50 rhinos in the state. Five years later, it dropped that estimate to just ten. Now, it's admitted the awful truth: the wild rhino is very likely gone.

"We are facing the prospect of our Sumatran rhinos going extinct in our lifetime,” Manjun noted at an environment seminar.

Sabah's rhino is a distinct subspecies of Sumatran rhino, known as the Bornean rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni), and it looks increasingly possible that the Bornean rhino may only be represented by three surviving individuals, all of which are held in fenced, natural conditions at the Borneo Rhinoceros Sanctuary (BRS) in Sabah. These include one male, Tam, and two females, Iman and Puntung.

"If numbers of baby Sumatran rhinos can quickly be boosted in the coming few years, there is still hope to save the species from extinction," said John Payne, the Executive Director of the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) and one of the world's top experts on the species. "The only way now to achieve that is to use in vitro fertilization to produce the embryos and to have a few fertile females in well-managed fenced facilities, under excellent care, as the surrogate mothers."

Conservationists had hoped that Tam would be able to mate naturally with one of the females, however Iman is suffering from tumors in her uterus while Puntung has cysts, making natural reproduction next-to-impossible despite years of trying. Now, the team is turning to technology for hope. Payne said if in vitro fertilization works, "each mother could then bear and raise a baby every three years."

He added, however, that obstruction remains strong to this path.

"As long as prevailing resistance remains from the relevant governments, IUCN, and the big NGOs, then the species will go extinct, and those institutions, not poachers or oil palm producers, will have to shoulder most of the ensuing blame."

There may be a few more surviving Bornean rhinos, but these would be in Kalimantan or Indonesian Borneo. Two years ago, camera traps revealed at least one wild rhino in the state—after no records for decades. But it may only be that: just one.

Across the Java Sea, the Sumatran rhino is holding on by a thread. Conservationists estimate that less than a hundred rhinos survive on the Indonesia island of Sumatra today, split into fragmented populations spanning three national parks. Five of these rhinos, which belong to the subspecies Dicerorhinus sumatrensis sumatrensis, are also held in semi-captive conditions at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, including a baby rhino born three years ago.

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Sarawak wants its own Lords of the Rings epic


Sarawak should be promoted as a unique destination, playing on its rich history of having a white “rajah” (king) to rule it, and to focus on its strengths - rich culture, adventure, nature and music festivals.

This is the message that Sarawak chief minister, Tan Sri Adenan Satem, had for the delegates of the inaugural Sarawak Tourism Forum in Kuching.

Sarawak has a romantic history with Sir James Brooke (1803-1868), a British adventurer, whose exploits in the Malay Archipelago made him the first White Rajah of Sarawak.

As Adenan said, “No country has been ruled by a family of White Rajahs.

Be proud of your history and use this unique history to sell Sarawak.”

He hoped that a movie would be made on this adventurer who is synonymous with Sarawak’s past, and that the film would promote Sarawak in the same way “Lord of the Rings” did for New Zealand.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sarawak wants its own Lords of the Rings epic
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