State govt supports proposal to list Sarawak’s open house culture as Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage

Abdul Karim (sixth right) in a photo with other guests and visitors at the Roman Catholic Church Christmas Open House. Also seen are Fong (third left), Poh (fifth left) and Uggah (centre in red batik shirt).

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Dec 25: Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports will look into the criteria and procedures to get Sarawak’s open house culture to be recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) as part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage.

Its minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah pointed out that the proposal to have the open house culture added to Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list was a viable prospect.

“This is very interesting proposal and we should bring it up and take steps to attempt to submit a bid to Unesco, considering the beautiful way we celebrate festivals in Sarawak.

“There is a process to do it and we will need to see how to do it. I am very supportive of the proposal definitely,” he told reporters at the Roman Catholic Church Christmas Open House held at the Curia and Cathedral Pastoral Centre (ACCPC) here today.

Abdul Karim was responding to the suggestion by his assistant minister Datuk Sebastian Ting that the open house concept practised by Sarawak’s multiracial community be listed as a world cultural heritages under Unesco.

“You can see clearly in all festivals whether it is Christmas, Chinese New Year, Gawai, and so on, it is celebrated in joy and spirit by everyone from different faiths.

“This is something which should be promoted and recognised by Unesco and the world,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ting had in an event in Miri yesterday (Dec 24) said that the open houses held during various festivities observed in Sarawak were unique and reflected the unity and harmony of the races in the state.

He pointed out that Sarawak has 27 diverse ethnic groups, each with its own unique culture.

“I don’t think such an open house concept is being practised in other countries where you have people of various races and religions sitting down together during celebrations such as Christmas, Chinese New Year, Gawai Dayak and Hari Raya Aidilfitri.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and state Legal Counsel Datuk Seri JC Fong were among the distinguished guests to visit and extend the season’s greetings and best wishes to Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuching the Most Revd Simon Poh at the open house. — DayakDaily