CM: Sarawak to preserve its heritage as the state goes digital

From left: Lee and Ipoi chatting with a conference delegate after the opening ceremony.

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By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Nov 15: Sarawak is highly committed to preserving its heritage, despite pursuing its digital economy agenda aggressively.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said his administration was serious in taking steps to preserve artefacts, historical sites and monuments while embarking on a digital transformation journey to transform the state into a high income one by 2030.

“The Sarawak government is aware of the need to preserve its heritage while implementing physical development in the state. It is important to preserve and conserve heritage, such as historical monuments, sites and artefacts, for future generations.

“Besides, this also contributes to the tourism industry,” he said at the opening of the 8th ASEMUS: Asia-Europe Museum Network General Conference 2018 here today. His text-of-speech was read out by Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin.

ASEMUS chair Kennie Ting, who is also director of Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, as well as state Museum director Ipoi Datan were present.

Abang Johari deemed holding the conference in Sarawak as “timely” considering its theme ‘New Curatorial Perspectives for a Changed World’”, which was appropriate as the state promotes balance between physical development and preservation of heritage.

He said in line with Sarawak’s digital economy initiative, the state government had committed RM1 billion for digital infrastructure upgrading to provide reliable coverage of high-speed broadband across the state.

The state has also allocated RM308 million to build the new Sarawak Museum complex and enhance its role as a world-class global institution. In addition, local and foreign scientists and researchers would be able to conduct their studies and researches on Sarawak culture, arts and antiquities.

The new complex, to be opened to the public by the end of 2020, will become the second largest museum in Southeast Asia, after the Singapore National Museum.

With 6,500 sq meters of exhibition space, the museum will showcase Borneo’s collection spanning over 42,000 years.

“The Sarawak Museum needs to find ways to upgrade its role to acquire, conserve and exhibit the collections, which first started since the 1880’s. It needs to collaborate with other museums and established institutions from around the world.

“Thus, ASEMUS is the appropriate platform for the Sarawak Museum to collaborate with other museums around the world in order to attain global standard,” reckoned Abang Johari.

The first proper museum building in Sarawak was built in 1888 and opened to the public on Aug 4, 1891. The building was built to display ethnographic and natural history collections. The museum is considered the oldest in Borneo and has one of the best collections in Southeast Asia.

The international speakers and participants of the three-day conference (Nov 14-16) are from the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Russia, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, Korea, China, Japan, Indonesia, India and Singapore. — DayakDaily