Sarawakian unity evident as multiracial crowd throngs Uggah, PBB Dayak leaders’s Gawai Dayak Open House 2022

Seen are Abang Johari (sixth right), Uggah (fifth right), and others in a group photo after the 'Kujuk' ceremony.

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By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, June 1: The large multiracial turnout at today’s Gawai Dayak open house at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) hosted by Sarawak Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Dayak leaders in Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) exemplifies the unity and harmony among Sarawakians.

Thousands of visitors from near and far, of all ages and races, flocked to the Gawai Dayak open house to convey their Gawai greetings to the hosts comprising Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn, Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, Dato Gerawat Gala, Dato Gerald Rentap Jabu, Datuk Henry Sum Agong, Jefferson Jamit Unyat, and Martin Ben, as well as to enjoy the festive delicacies.

Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg and his wife Datin Amar Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang arrived at BCCK at 11.45am, and were greeted on arrival by Uggah and his wife Datin Amar Doreen Mayang, as well as the respective PBB Dayak leaders and their spouses.

The Premier was welcomed with a dance performance by the Dayak Cultural Foundation (DCF).

Abang Johari (left) is greeted by Uggah upon the former’s arrival at BCCK.
Uggah (fifth left), Sagah (sixth left), and other Dayak PBB leaders give the media a thumbs-up after shouting ‘oooha’.

Abang Johari was ushered by Uggah, and the PBB Dayak leaders to the ‘Kujuk’ ceremony table, which is an old tradition practised primarily by the Iban community to welcome a very important person, usually referred to as the ‘Tuai Pengabang’, to their home during the Gawai Dayak festival.

The ‘Kujuk’ is typically set in the upper gallery of a ‘ruai’ (the common gallery that spans the length of a longhouse), and ‘Kujuk’ literally means a package wrapped in ‘pua kumbu’ (traditional patterned multicoloured ceremonial cotton cloth used by the Iban people) with some fruits and ornaments.

The ‘Kujuk’ contains an assortment of food items and gifts from the hosts of the open house.

Uggah welcomed Abang Johari as the ‘Tuai Pengabang’ and his wife to unwrap the ‘Kujuk’ by unravelling the ‘pua kumbu’, with the gifts inside for Abang Johari as a token of appreciation for the ‘Tuai Pengabang’ and guests for coming to liven up the occasion.

After the ‘Kujuk’ ceremony, there was a photo-call before the Premier and his wife were ushered to a table for lunch with Uggah, the PBB Dayak leaders, and other State ministers.

A variety of food is served at the Gawai Dayak 2022 Open House.
Dancers from DCF performing on stage.

The event continued with performances by the DCF and the Iwan Band.

Other dignitaries who came included Sarawak Deputy Premiers Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Women, Early Childhood, and Community Wellbeing Development (KPWK) Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department (Law, MA63, and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, Public Health, Housing, and Local Government Deputy Minister Michael Tiang, and Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar.

Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng was also among the distinguished guests.

Political party representatives also visited the open house, including Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen and his special assistant Michael Kong Feng Nian, as well as Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong.

In addition, representatives from industry groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sarawak (ACCCIS), Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations (SFCA), Chinese school boards, and Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (SHEDA) came to visit. — DayakDaily