Opening date for Sarawak Museum Campus set for end of 2020

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (seated, second left) and his wife Datin Patinggi Datuk Amar Juma'ani Tun Tuanku Bujang (seated, second right) attending Abdul Karim’s (seated, first left) Hari Raya Aidilfitri Open House at Penview Convention Centre today (June 16, 2019).

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, June 16: The long-awaited Sarawak Museum Campus will be opened to the public end of next year and an entrance fee may be imposed with local visitor fees subsidised.

Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah says the issue of entrance fees will be discussed in the state cabinet which will also decide on the formula of how to subsidise local visitors.

“We are spending RM300 million on the project and I believe we need to collect some fees. Many museums in the world are also collecting fees. RM20 or RM30 per entrance is not that expensive for foreign tourists,” said Abdul Karim.

He added that the museum which Sarawakians have been looking forward to experience could only be opened next year due to the complication of preparing all the object labels.

Abdul Karim (left) greeting Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) chief Baru Bian with a hug upon the latter’s arrival at his Hari Raya Aidilfitri Open House at Penview Convention Centre today (June 16, 2019).

“Though it will be handed over to us, it will not be opened to the public until a year later. I wish it can be opened to the public immediately, because I can’t wait also to let the public have a look into what is going on inside there.

“But museums being museums, even though the exhibit may be as small as a needle, there must be an object label. Those object labels are the reason for its (opening) delay. Every exhibit will need an object label on it — its history. That one will take up a little bit of time, about a year, so it is expected to be opened to the public end of next year,” Abdul Karim told the media when met at his Hari Raya Aidilfitri Open House at Penview Convention Centre here today.

He said the state-of-the-art museum will not be like other conventional museums but an interactive one, which accounted for its high cost.

Abdul Karim also announced that the Kuching Aquarium which is next to the Old Museum or the Natural History Museum will be revived.

The metal structure of the Kuching Aquarium is more than a century old.

“Kuching will be very exciting with all these museum complexes. Apart from that, we are also working on the (Kuching) Aquarium. The Aquarium will be re-introduced. There will be the Natural History Museum, the New Museum Campus which is a cultural museum,” said Abdul Karim.

He said the metal structure of the aquarium building itself was an artefact of more than 100-years-old and he spotted an exact replica at the British Museum.

On the Natural History Museum which was built in 1889 and opened to the public in 1891, he said renovation is still in progress.

The Natural History Museum has been undergoing renovation due to leaking as well as other wear and tear.

To allow renovation to take place, the artefacts in the museum were moved and preserved in five different places.

Meanwhile, on whether Sarawak would emulate Sabah to attract mainland Chinese tourists, Abdul Karim seemed to be reluctant.

He said Sabah tourism has really opened to China where its citizens are visiting in huge numbers. However, he said the sudden influx of tourists may result in locals suffering instead.

“The price of seafood in Sabah has gone up very high. The locals are not able to have that kind of food which they used to enjoy. I don’t think Sarawakians want to have that.

“Let it (tourists coming to Sarawak) be a steady progress. For Sabah, I dare say within a week, the flights coming in from mainland China is more than 200 flights. It is good for Sabah’s economy, but (a question of) whether all the money will be channelled back to Sabah.”

He said there are a lot of investments from mainland Chinese in Sabah in the seafood and retail industries and the Chinese tourists are only directed to these business premises owned by mainland Chinese. — DayakDaily