Sarawak to protect IP rights of folk arts heritage

Traditional Borneo beads and accessories. — DayakDaily.com file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Dec 1: The Sarawak government will take steps to protect the intellectual property (IP) rights of the rich Sarawak Heritage including folk arts.

Citing the examples of Leleng of the Orang Ulu, the Ramban of the Iban, Ros Kalas of the Malays, Langgi of the Bidayuhs and Mengarang of the Melanau, the Sarawak government said it “intangible understands” the significance of the issue and that these are some of the folk arts that needed to be protected in terms of IP.

“In view of these, the government is planning to hold a meeting with relevant authorities as well as agencies to discuss matters pertaining to the IP and royalties through Majlis Seni Sarawak,” said the Sarawak government in a written reply to a question raised by renown Sarawakian artist Alena Murang during “Sunday with CM: Dialogue Session with Young Entrepreneurs in Sarawak” held on Sept 28 this year.

Due to the constraints of time which caused many questions unanswered, DayakDaily has forwarded the questions that were yet to be answered to the relevant authorities who came back with the answers recently.


Alena had raised queries on the support the government can give to protect the IP rights of Sarawak of a folk art of a certain community after which the royalties may be channeled back fairly to the community and the artist.

She believed that the folk artist communities need to take the lead and work together with the Malaysia Authors Copyright Protection to manage the IP issue.

Meanwhile, Alena also raised queries on government’s efforts to support world music in Sarawak especially when it holds a wider purpose of strengthening identity, maintaining language and culture and sustaining communities.

“What plans does the government have to support this ecosystem that the world music circuit in Malaysia, and Southeast Asia is weak? That is, it is a challenge to find managers, record labels, media and producers within this genre, in the region,” Alena questioned.

In its written reply, the Sarawak government said Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) is a platform to groom Sarawakian musicians alongside international performers.

“Majlis Seni Sarawak will take the lead in developing, nurturing and marketing our local music talents to the world.

“The Sarawak State government has also allocated a sum of RM15 million through Youth Venture Fund to cultivate youth talents in creative arts industry.

“With the upcoming Sarawak Performing Arts Centre (Old Sarawak Legislative Assembly Building), it is timely for Majlis Seni Sarawak to start focusing on the different pillars of the performing arts including music of various genres,” said the written reply from the Sarawak government.

Apart from being a sape artist, Alena is also a vocalist and cultural activist. Born in Kuching to a Kelabit father and English-Italian mother, Alena studied at Manchester Business School (UK) before moving to work in management consulting in 2011.

She then went on to study Visual Arts at La Salle College of Arts in Singapore in 2014.

After starting sape lessons in 2002 with sape master Matthew Ngau who is also a Living National Heritage of Malaysia, Alena embarked on being a professional sape player herself in 2014. She has performed internationally. — DayakDaily