RWMF to go on despite Covid-19 concerns

Sharzede (standing eighth right), Abdul Wahab (standing nineth right), Abdul Karim (standing seven left) and Hii (six left) with representatives of local groups and artistes who will be performing at RWMF 2020 this July.

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By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, March 12: Despite some quarters cancelling mass gatherings as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) will proceed with staging the prestigious Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) 2020 on July 10-12 at Sarawak Culutral Village.

STB chief executive officer (CEO) Sharzede Salleh Askor believed the RWMF remains as the ‘gem of Sarawak’, a platform which allows musicians especially local bands and singers from diverse ethnic groups and cultures to show their talents to the public.

“Through RWMF, Sarawak will continue to boast our own music, arts and culture to help boost music tourism.

“It will also provide exposure for festive-goers to global music, arts and culture.

“At the same time, it is an important platform for locals to showcase their talents, creating socio-economic impact for local communities.

“Together, the RWMF and other programmes, the RWMF Fringe Festival and the Rainforest In the City which are extension of RWMF, the city centre is poised to ignite an artistic storm across our ‘Cat City’ this July,” she said in her speech before launching the RWMF at the Auditorium of the Old Court House here today.

Sharzede Salleh Askor

Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said his ministry has instructed all event organisers to take extra precautionary measures especially those which have invited foreigners to participate in their events.

He stressed that Sarawak is serious and will remain vigilant in combating Covid-19.

He noted his ministry is also committed to ensuring that the relevant parties adhere to the instructions issued by the State Disaster Management Committee.

Abdul Karim pointed out that his ministry will also be taking a proactive approach in dealing with Covid-19 and has taken steps to collaborate with health authorities to strengthen capacity to monitor the situation.

Among the steps to be taken, he outlined, the ministry through STB will distribute free masks at the event while hand sanitizers will be placed at strategic locations around the festival venues.

He revealed that health screening or thermal scans will also be made available at the festival entrance and precautionary information will be disseminated through various communication mediums.

In the meantime, Abdul Karim revealed that RWMF 2020 will feature 56 bands from over 30 countries, more than in previous years.

He noted the number represented 19 per cent of the 195 nationalities which is expected to arrive in Kuching for the three-day music celebration.

Abdul Karim also noted that there will be a few new countries participating at this year’s event.

He shared that they are from Argentina, Cambodia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Flores, Kurdistan and Venezuela.

“A fresh approach to this year’s RWMF will be the expansion of the event to the city as a potentially permanent feature.

“This includes the ‘Rainforest World Music Festival Fringe’ at the City Stage from July 3 to July 15 and the Rainforest in the City on June 30 to July 9.

“The Fringe Festival will present over 23 unique and 108 daily events across different genres.

“As a curtain-raiser, the RWMF City Stage will be held at the Amphitheatre at Jalan Taman Budaya on July 3 and 4.

“It will feature an exciting line-up of six international, four national and two local bands which are curated by the RWMF artistic director,” Abdul Karim said.

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

On a related note, he revealed that RWMF 2019 has attracted 23,650 festive goers.

While non-committal to the number of visitors and festival goers expected at RWMF for this year, Abdul Karim is hopeful that the event will continue to attract visitors from around the world.

Among those present at the launching of RWMF 2020 were STB chairman Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz, Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, RWMF festival director Yeoh Jun Lin, Rainforest in the City festival director Abdul Shakir and invited guests. — DayakDaily