Artefacts nearly 300 years old lying in Maskin River to be salvaged by September

John Sikie chairing the meeting to salvage the Maskin klirieng at Upper Penyarai, yesterday.

by Calvin Jemarang

BINTULU, Aug 20: Historical artefacts lying at the bottom of the Maskin River, in upper Pejarai estimated to be over three hundred years old are set to be salvaged by the last week of September.

Datuk John Sikie Tayai said the relocation of the klirieng, or burial pole from the Maskin River will require the cooperation of other stakeholders, particularly the Land and Survey Department and KTS Group.

He announced that the removal will be done on Sept 24 and personally pledged RM5,000 for the removal works.

“I hope Dr Elena can help us to notify these stakeholders. Their cooperation is very important,” he added.

The Maskin klirieng conservation project was mooted by John Sikie himself.

“I believe that the people who own these burial poles are also my ancestors,” he quipped.

However, the project hit a snag following a sundry list of demands from local Bagatan (or Baketan) communities. They demanded to be paid in the hundreds of thousands to perform Christian prayers and others.

This eventually led to John Sikie intervening personally by convincing the Baketan communities that it is for the benefit of not only themselves, but also all stakeholders that the klirieng be conserved.

The burial poles along the Pejarai River actually predate the Baketan by at least two centuries, and according to their oral history, they were originally from the Kapuas basin.

Newly appointed Baketan Penghulu, Sekaya Tulang also persuaded the Baketan to reduce their demands and stop delaying the conservation project.

“The negotiations have been dragging on for a while. All of us must allow the authorities to do their work,” he pleaded.

Dr Elena Chai, from the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry & Performing Arts Sarawak, who spearheaded the conservation works explained that it waws important that everyone was onboard in supporting the conservation project.

Initially, the plan was for the klirieng to be erected near the Maskin River. However, after careful studies, the site was deemed unsuitable as it was prone to seasonal flooding which could damage the klirieng.

The government has allocated RM10,000 for the nine Punan communities to perform their “napok” and related Bungan rituals and the eight Baketan longhouses received RM18,000 as “emplasik menoa”. — DayakDaily