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By DayakDaily Team
KUCHING, June 29: There is still much natural heritage which has yet to be uncovered in Sarawak, says Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
Describing this heritage as a precious gem, Abdul Karim expressed hope that Sarawakians would learn to appreciate it in order to preserve and conserve it for generations to come.
“Personally I see Sarawak is a gem with so much untapped eco-tourism products which we can showcase to the world.
“They should be able to make us proud of (them). But of course, to reach to that level where people can come over to view and appreciate, a lot of things must be done.
“Among them would be to get the connectivity rights so that those overseas can come over and appreciate what we have, as well as for domestic travellers whether they are from Sabah or West Malaysia to come over to access these eco-tourism products,” Abdul Karim told DayakDaily in an exclusive interview at his office here recently.
He also expressed hope that Sarawakians would not take the state’s rich natural heritage for granted but instead greater appreciate it so that it could benefit all.
“And so from the ground, (we appreciate) how we can preserve, conserve these things. These things are also very important, as well as the management of all these products.
“To the locals, they may not be able to appreciate them because they see them every day — they see the caves every day, they see the rivers every day, so they may not be able to appreciate the beauty of it, things that live within that ecosystem, whether it is the fishes or the animals.
“So, that’s why sometimes we see free hunting, using nets to catch fish in the rivers in an uncontrolled manner, which when I see the video of people catching fish such as tengadak and empurau in large numbers, I feel sad because if too much are caught, i.e. overfishing, it’s bad. Likewise, when people go hunting,” he said.
However, he stressed that education is crucial in order for the people to greater appreciate nature and the environment.
“But then it’s a process of education and apart from that, it is a process of how we tie these loose ends. We know those who live in the interiors, that’s how they live. They need that as food but then it must be controlled.
“Likewise, those going scuba diving in the sea must comply with certain ethics and SOP. Those ‘gems’, whether they are in the sea or in the jungle can be extended to our children as our natural heritage. It means that we have to have sustainable eco-tourism.
“And I must be thankful to Sarawakians now that a lot of them will ‘bising’ (making noise) if people chop down the jungle. This kind of awareness is what we want to develop,” he stressed.
On a related issue, Abdul Karim said he appreciated non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are genuinely safeguarding nature and the environment from getting destroyed or being exploited.
“We can’t say that those environmentalists are not doing their jobs. I appreciate some of them as long as it’s not linked too much with political (parties). If you are very passionate about your jungle, your environment, I’m okay with it.
“In fact I like it, including NGOs such as Save Rivers, Sarawak, I’m very happy with that because I won’t want to see our jungle turned into a monocrop ‘jungle’ — only one type of crop, miles and miles of only oil palm. That will disturb the whole system.
“To me these things (natural diversity and heritage) are the gems that we have. No doubt that we do have a lot of logging and a lot of plantations but we do still have a lot of our natural forests. These are the ones we hope would be the last remnants which we can show to the world.
“And I can see that many of our leaders can see that (value) from that angle, as what I said are these gems, how to polish it, what polishing it means, how to get roads to those places so that the public is able to appreciate it,” he added. — DayakDaily