Abdul Karim: Sarawak handicraft industry records RM15.7 million in sales in 2021

Abdul Karim speaking during the launching ceremony of the 'Lembaran Emas Series 2: Borneo Textiles Symposium 2022' at Pullman Hotel on Dec 6, 2022. Screengrab taken from Ukas Facebook livestream

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By Yee Mei

KUCHING, Nov 6: The Sarawak handicraft industry has reached RM15.7 million in sales in 2021, says Sarawak Minister of Youth, Sports, and Entrepreneur Development Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

In his welcoming speech at the launching ceremony of the ‘Lembaran Emas Series 2: Borneo Textiles Symposium’ today, he said it is a reflection of its growth and presence on both local and international stages.

“This was achieved through the craft community of 687 people in Sarawak alone. Among them are individuals who have dedicated their lives to mastering and threading yards upon yards of invaluable fabrics. These people deserve our respect and gratitude,” he said.

He also mentioned that digitalisation played a role in enabling Sarawak’s handicrafts to reach a wider range of audiences locally and internationally.

“To encourage this trend and to amplify the effect on tourism, a hybrid-based collaboration between key players in the textile preservation and productions, such as Majlis Seni Sarawak, Sarawak Tourism Board, and Sarawak Craft Council, and perhaps with international organisations as well, should be established,” he said.

He also showed appreciation for the significance of academic and intellectual perspectives on arts provided by the Faculty of Applied and Creative Arts of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) for highlighting Malaysian crafts in the academia of arts and culture.

Speaking of the symposium, he said that its theme this year, ‘Connecting Textiles to Communities for Sustainable Growth’, aspires to nurture the relationships between communities from all around the world, especially in textiles craft.

“The textiles domain has come a long way in Borneo, especially in Sarawak. The Sarawak government has high regard for the textile industry. It has a lot of potential to contribute to the development of our country’s economy and livelihood. Hence, we have recognised the traditional craft as one of the major players in our economic strategy, with a special focus on local textiles such as the Sarawak songket and keringkam,” he said.

He also expressed his happiness to see participants of diverse backgrounds participating in the symposium, with speakers coming from as far as north-western Europe and Anatolia.

“It is our pleasure to assist scholars and weavers in elevating their ideas and innovations towards finding potential stakeholders and supportive communities and bringing everyone within reach of each other. That is our focus — to turn local events into potential tourism attractions, to provide a platform for partnership with universities and other tourism agencies, and to help instill a ‘sense of ownership’ in all individuals actively taking part in this symposium today.

“Through these, we can shine a spotlight on Sarawak and in particular, the allure of our textiles. With this collaborative effort, I am confident that we can promote a wider range of research-driven innovation and technology as well as translational discourses that reverberates throughout the world, triggering transformations and sustaining preservations of our traditions and culture,” he said.

Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Mainmunah Iskandariah officiated at the event, which will be held from Dec 5-7 at Pullman Hotel here.

Among those present were the Premier’s wife Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang and the wives of the deputy premiers, Datin Amar Doreen Mayang and Datin Sri Datin Sri Enn Ong. — DayakDaily