Deputy Premier: Kumang Gawai beauty pageants showcase Dayak community’s way of life to the world

Uggah (second right) and his wife Dato Doreen Mayang (centre), together with Betong assemblyman Dato Gerald Rentap Jabu (second left), Saribas assemblyman Mohd Razi Sitam (right) and others attending the Betong Division Gawai Dayak dinner at the Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan Sports Hall in Betong on May 18, 2024.

By DayakDaily Team

KUCHING, May 19: Gawai Dayak beauty pageants (Kumang Gawai) serve to show the rich culture, traditions, and way of life of the Dayak community to the world, says Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

Uggah said, looking at the contestants of Kumang Gawai, one of the most important things is the display of the handicrafts used as accessories in ‘Ngepan’ (traditional women’s costume) from head to toe, which are the ‘Sugu Tinggi’, ‘Rawai’, ‘Selampai’, and many more.


“To me, there are at least ten different types merged into one to beautify our Dayak ladies. These have profound meanings to us,” he said in a statement today.

Recently, political analyst Prof Datuk Dr Jayum Jawan of University Putra Malaysia described the Kumang beauty pageants, which are held annually as part of Gawai Dayak, as being ‘demeaning’ towards Dayak women.

In response to the statement, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) info chief Andy Lawrance said the Kumang Gawai beauty contest is far from demeaning but is instead a celebration of the Dayak culture, showcasing beauty, talent, and cultural richness.

Meanwhile, when attending the Betong Division Gawai Dayak dinner held at Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan Sports Hall in Betong yesterday (May 18), Uggah commended the organiser for continuing with the evening beauty pageant and not being cowed by the negative comment.

“We will give all the organisers our full support. Please continue with such a programme because we are proud of our culture and traditions,” he added. — DayakDaily