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By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, May 7: Since Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over Putrajaya, federal funding from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to support events in Sarawak had dwindled from RM2.2 million in 2015 to only RM150,000 in 2018.
State Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, in his winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting today, said it was disheartening to note how PH had treated Sarawak while paying better attention to other states.
“I should also let this august House know that it is most unfortunate that PH has cancelled four of the approved tourism development projects by the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia amounting to RM29.7 million. The projects include Belaga Waterfront, Kampung Panchor Hotspring Improvement, Baram Waterfront and upgrading of tourism facilities at Gunung Serumbu, Bau.”
He said most of these projects were in advanced stages of tender preparation.
“Following that, the state government has taken its initiative to take up one of the projects, namely Projek Waterfront Sungai Baram, Marudi, costing RM23 million at its own cost. I hope the PH Government will seriously reconsider their move to cancel development projects that the government has approved previously,” he added.
However, federal-funded projects implemented under the Fourth (4th) Rolling Plan of the 11th Malaysia Plan by the federal ministry with an allocation of RM4.2 million, comprising the development of eco-tourism facilities in both Kuching Wetland National Park and Santubong National Park, were expected to be completed by 2020.
Meanwhile, to promote Sarawak and attract tourists to the state, Abdul Karim said his ministry in collaboration with various agencies and tourism industry players had successfully organised many tourism events to generate economic spin-off for the local community and to capture international media attention.
“In the first half of 2019, the prestigious 23rd Asian Television Awards was held in January 2019. It was broadcast live to 2 billion people across 22 countries and has been viewed on iFlix, Bangkok TV, Today TV Vietnam, Channel O Indonesia, Citra Entertainment, Formosa TV, ViuTV, Arirang, ABS-CBN and Jiangsu Satellite International.
“Alta Moda Sarawak was held in March 2019 at the Old DUN Building. This high fashion event was a platform to provide an insight into the world of fashion in Sarawak through diversified programmes and activities with the participation of local attendees, journalists, celebrities and associate partners.”
Sarawak also came alive with cinematic magic at the fourth Asean International Film Festival and Awards (AIFFA) 2019, which took place from April 25-27 in Kuching.
It was attended by more than 4,000 Asean and international delegates and local Sarawakians, including notable Hollywood action star Steven Seagal.
Abdul Karim added that there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed during the AIFFA Biz World, with a movie set to be filmed in Sarawak, creating tremendous impact in terms of branding Kuching and Sarawak positively in the Asean region as a filming destination.
Other international events and festivals that have been lined up in 2019 are Sarawak International Festival of Music and Arts (June), Rainforest Fringe Festival (July), Rainforest World Music Festival (July), Borneo Jazz Festival (July), Borneo Cultural Festival (July), Borneo International Sailing Challenge (July), Sibu International Dance Festival (August), Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival (September), Borneo International Kite Festival (September), What About Kuching (October), Sarawak International Dragon Boat Race (October), Sarawak Regatta (November), Miri Country Music Fest (November), 8th Miri International Ballroom Competition (November), BIMP-EAGA Budayaw Festival of Arts and Culture (November) and 8th Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards (December). — DayakDaily