Craft council ordinance to be tabled at DUN before end of year

Abdul Karim having a closer look at some handicrafts at the newly launched Sarawak Craft Council Office, Gallery and Retail Outlets at the Sarawak Steamship Building, Kuching Waterfront today, in the presence of Wee (centre) and Karim’s wife Datin Zuraini Abdul Jabbar.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Sept 9: The proposed Sarawak Craft Council Ordinance will provide the much needed legal framework for the state’s handicrafts industry to expand and develop, said Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

He said the proposed ordinance will be tabled at the State Legislative Assembly before the end of the year.

“Presently, the Sarawak Craft Council was created by the (State) Cabinet. It does not have a proper structure. We do not know how to appoint and those who are appointed we do not know their tenure. Where are their jurisdiction, things like that.

“So, we must have a proper ordinance, a structure to regulate crafts in Sarawak. It is very important for Sarawak. We have so many races and every race has its own specific craft.

“So definitely we need to draft a proper regulation, a proper ordinance. The setting up of the office of the CEO, the chairman, their salaries, things like that. Where are they accountable to. All that needs to be refined in a proper ordinance just like the Sarawak Tourism Board and like any agency that has been set up,” Abdul Karim told a news conference after officiating the opening of the Sarawak Craft Council Office, Gallery and Retail Outlets at the Sarawak Steamship Building here today.

Earlier in his speech, he disclosed that his ministry and the Sarawak Craft Council were working closely with the State Attorney’s Office to come up with the Sarawak Craft Council Ordinance which he hoped to table in the State Legislative Assembly Sitting at the end of the year.

The proposed Sarawak Craft Council Ordinance would establish a more effective and structured body to plan and develop the craft industry in Sarawak.

“The artisan, producers, retailers, designers, non-government organization and all of you out there also play a critical role in developing the handicraft industry in our State together with Sarawak Craft Council. Let us play all our role with tenacity to bring our crafts to the next level which are internationally recognized and sought after by craft lovers,” he stressed.

Abdul Karim also revealed that his ministry was now planning to build a purpose-built Sarawak Handicraft Centre in Kuching, under the 12th Malaysia Plan, that will not only showcase and serve as a souvenir centre for authentic Sarawak crafts products but also will include spaces for capacity building activities, reference centre and modular spaces to create awareness, interest and encourage creativity in handicrafts.

“While the government assist in developing all these hardware, it is also critical in developing talents and skills, both production and business, to ensure the sustainability of the industry,” he said.

He pointed out that capacity-building programmes will be revamped in collaboration with various agencies, for a more effective curriculum to increase the number of producers and products quality.

“Sarawak Craft Council is training about 200 producers annually in production and business skills.

“By 2030, we hope to increase the number of highly skilled active producers from the current 1,000 to 2,000 and a target of sales from RM32 million in 2019 to RM80 million in 2030,” he said.

Meanwhile, Abdul Karim urged the tourism players, especially tourist guides to make the newly launched Sarawak Craft Council Office a must-visit place for tourists to visit.

“With the new gallery and retails outlets at this very strategic location at the Kuching Waterfront it will definitely make our proud and authentic Sarawak Crafts products more visible and accessible to visitors and local communities,” he said.

Currently, nine retailers operate at the premises, which opens from 10am till 10pm daily.

Renovation works on the premises started in 2018 and was completed in July, 2020 at a cost of RM560,000.

Assistant Minister for Native Laws and Customs and the Sarawak Craft Council chairman Datuk John Sikie Tayai also spoke at the function.

Present at the function were permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Hii Chang Kee and Kuching South City Council mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng.—DayakDaily