Friday, July 10, 2009

A ‘mask’ festival at Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival


KUCHING: The distribution of facemasks at today’s Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) is in a way a tribute to the late Michael Jackson of sorts.

The megastar, who passed away suddenly on June 25, had at one point in his life made surgical mask a trademark of his when he frequently appeared in front of cameras wearing a mask.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said in jest to reporters yesterday that while last year’s festival was a sort of ‘mud’ festival because of the rain this year’s could be a ‘mask’ festival because of the Influenza A (H1N1) scare.

However, whether festival-goers do decide to don the facemask or not, it will not stop STB and health officials from distributing thousands of face masks at the festival entrance as a precautionary measure against the spread of the virus.

Yesterday’s press conference, the last before the start of the festival, saw Minister of Urban Development and Tourism Datuk Michael Manyin assuring members of the public that the state government had taken all precautionary measures it possibly could to protect the festival-goers.

He said the precautionary measures even impressed foreigners who are already here for the festival.

“They seem to be surprise about the fuss we are making but admire the efforts the state is taking to inform members of the public about the virus.”

Nevertheless, he said the state Health Department would station 97 medical staff working on three shifts, to provide 24-hour health care services at the festival site.

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