New Sarawak Museum will reflect state’s rich diversity as originally intended

A file photo of the main building of the Sarawak Museum Campus under construction.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Feb 23: The new Sarawak Museum Campus is focusing on the rich diversity of various ethnic groups in the state, and had not adopted a “colonial mentality” in its approach.

Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah denied that the state Museum Department was heavily weighted towards a particular ethnic group in the state as reported in a recent article based on his Feb 20 briefing with museum stakeholders.

“The new museum is a cultural museum showing the rich cultural diversity of the various ethnic groups of Sarawak. There is no issue of ‘colonial mentality’ or domination and if there is any, its only in this writer’s mind,” Abdul Karim said when contacted.

He said it was unfortunate that his name was quoted by the writer.

Abdul Karim (seated right) in discussion with Ridu during a recent session with stakeholders.

“If any of that I commented during the said briefing, I told participants that I would want to see the rich culture of all ethnic groups in Sarawak to be reflected and showcased in the new museum and not just a few selected ethnic groups, because Sarawak belongs to all different races,” he explained.

He acknowledged that office politics happened in every organisation, but advised the Museum Department staff to focused on their respective jobs.

“It is common for office politics to happen in any place, especially if one feels that one position or chances of progression is threatened.

“To me, any staff, whether they are Chinese, Iban, Malay, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Melanau or even European, all are equal. The only thing that separates them is their commitment and dedication to their work.

“There should be no office politics and racism among staff in the Museum department. If there are those with that tendency, be prepared to be moved out,” he warned.

Abdul Karim was responding to a recent news report, which alleged that the new Sarawak Museum was heavily weighted to some ethnic groups, as its consultants were from several European countries.

The said writer also claimed to have voiced his opinion on the matter during a recent session with stakeholders from all ethnic groups on Feb 20.

The report also alleged that the European consultants had been interpreting the collections from their viewpoints that tended to focus on the exotic cultural heritage, which marginalized some other ethnic groups in the state.

Sarawak Heritage Society president Dato Sri Robert Jacob Ridu, when contacted, described the said report as a “creation of alternative reality by the writer who obviously is delusional”.

“What was allegedly reported by the writer was wrong and injurious to Datuk Abdul Karim. I was there,” he said. — DayakDaily