PRS deputy info chief criticises political analyst’s view of Kumang Gawai beauty contest as ‘antiquated’

PRS deputy information chief Andy Lawrance

By DayakDaily Team

KUCHING, May 10: The Kumang Gawai beauty contest is far from demeaning, but rather a vibrant celebration of the Dayak culture, showcasing the beauty, talent, and cultural richness of our community, said Andy Lawrence.

The deputy information chief of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) was responding to a recent statement made by political analyst Prof Datuk Dr Jayum Jawan of Universiti Putra Malaysia, who described the Kumang beauty pageants, which are held annually as part of Gawai celebrations, as being ‘demeaning’ for Dayak women.


“It’s quite amusing to hear Professor Dr Jayum’s antiquated views regarding the Kumang Gawai beauty contest. One might expect a distinguished academic to appreciate cultural evolution and its positive manifestations.

“It’s perplexing that Dr Jayum fails to see the value in such modern expressions of tradition. In the age of social media, it amplifies our traditional customs, spreading them from Sarawak to the world,” he said in a statement.

He went on to say that he had been told that parading Dayak women was a common practice at longhouses in various locations.

“Whether during ‘Niti Daun’, serving the ‘Piring’, or ‘Ngalu ke Petara’ rituals of ‘Gawai Antu’, it was an integral part of the Gawai festivities,” he added.

Andy further noted that the tradition not only symbolised beauty and cultural richness but also showcased the craftsmanship and skill of the community’s artisans.

“In light of Dr Jayum’s emphasis on the original Dayak or Iban culture of Gawai, it’s worth pondering: with the dwindling number of farmers and paddy cultivators in our Dayak community today, does this mean we are no longer qualified to celebrate the Gawai Dayak festival?

“Shouldn’t our eligibility be based on a broader understanding and appreciation of Dayak culture that reflects the reality of our modern community?” he said. — DayakDaily