Sarawak Premier’s Dept’s Gawai Dayak celebration shines spotlight on unity, tradition with ‘rumah panjai’ spirit

Buckland welcoming Abang Johari (fourth left) and his wife Juma'ani (third left) to the Sarawak Premier’s Department’s Gawai Dayak celebration at DUN Complex on June 12, 2024. Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 12: This year’s Gawai Dayak celebration by the Sarawak Premier’s Department has taken a uniquely meaningful approach with the theme “ngabang to rumah panjai” (visiting longhouse), symbolising unity and togetherness in the Sarawak Civil Service (SCS).

Sarawak Deputy Secretary (Administration) Datu Buckland Bangit emphasised that this concept envisioned each unit within the Sarawak Premier’s Department as a “bilik” (room) in a traditional longhouse, reflecting the idea that the Premier’s Department itself is a longhouse.


He noted that this underscored the department’s commitment to fostering a sense of community and cooperation among the various units, while reminding everyone that each department and unit plays a crucial role in their collective mission, much like each room in a longhouse contributing to the whole.

“It provided opportunities for all to strengthen our bonds and meet with Sarawak leaders, especially the Premier (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg). This is a time for us to enjoy delicious food while closing rapport and ties.

“This year’s Gawai celebration is also a platform to strengthen the spirit of unity and teamwork, aligning with SCS motto of ‘One Team’,” he said when speaking at the celebration held at Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex which was officiated at by Abang Johari today.

Buckland hoped the department will continue to preserve the tradition of holding such festive celebrations, noting that the department has always been a melting pot of various communities and culture.

He added that the celebration also highlights the important message of mutual understanding, respect and appreciation for Sarawak’s cultural diversity.

Buckland reminded those present that this unique culture must be safeguarded and upheld for Sarawak’s continuous harmony and progress towards becoming an advanced region by 2030 as envisioned under Post-Covid Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030.

“Sarawak’s demographics have evolved, with inter-marriages between the Dayak community and other races being a contributing factor. As such, Gawai Dayak is no longer celebrated by the Dayak community only, but by all other races in Sarawak.

“This brings vibrancy and colour to Gawai Dayak but without neglecting tradition of honouring the god for a good harvest on the land and sharing the prosperity every year,” he added.

The celebration also witnessed the department presenting school bags, books, shoes and stationaries to 25 school children from SK Garland, Batu Kawah as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Buckland stressed the significance of the CSR for SSC in giving back to the people, especially since the civil servants received a two-month bonus last year.

“If we are generous, perhaps we will receive a bigger bonus this year,” he said.

The CSR programme raised a substantial amount from 37 donors, including ministers, deputy ministers, elected representatives, heads of departments and senior officers, particularly from the Dayak community.

The Premier’s wife Datin Puan Sri Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang, Deputy Premiers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Datuk Amar Dr Sim Kui Hian, Sarawak Secretary Datuk Amar Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki, cabinet ministers and heads of departments were among those present. — DayakDaily