Youth involvement vital to exploit songket and keringkam’s heritage, tourism potential

Nancy (second right) watches an artisan embroider keringkam while Abdul Karim (second left) and Sabariah (left) look on. Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, July 3: Local youths have been urged to promote Sarawak’s heritage products such as songket and keringkam as tourism products for domestic tourists.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri believed the involvement of youth is important to maintain the heritage of songket and keringkam for future generations, adding that these items are scarce and not easily available in the marketplace.

“We want to encourage the youngsters to be involved in it (perpetuating songket and keringkam).

“We hope that we can see more of the youngsters involved so that the future generations will be able to reproduce what we have, especially with new designs,” she said during a press conference at the Songket and Keringkam gallery located at Jalan Masjid here yesterday.

She noted some of the keringkam manufactured in Sarawak have incorporated local ethnic designs, which is a unique feature that Sarawakians should be proud of.

Thus, she hoped there will be more tourism products marketed by Sarawak in the future to spur spending by domestic tourists.

Nancy also expressed belief that songket and keringkam have potential to be gifts and souvenirs for local tourists to purchase while travelling in Sarawak.

“We want an influx of tourists to come to Sarawak to buy these (songket and keringkam) as souvenirs when they leave Sarawak,” she added.

On another note, Nancy revealed that Sarawak has received RM2.65 million in tourism tax for 2019 to upgrade public facilities for tourist attractions.

Adding on, Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the collection of tourism tax has been temporarily suspended now to spur the local tourism industry.

He noted imposing tourism tax on tourists at the present moment would put a burden on local tourists and the growth of the local tourism industry.

When asked on the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme which was temporarily frozen, Nancy said the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC) is looking at ways to improve the programme.

She explained that the federal government is using the Movement Control Order (MCO) period to review the whole tourism promotion programme and activities involved.

Nancy said the National Immigration Department is reviewing the processes of MM2H and at the same time MoTAC is conducting a holistic study of the programme which is targeting to be finalised by year end.

As opposed to the MM2H programme at the national level which is temporarily frozen, Abdul Karim said the MM2H programme in Sarawak is still in force.

MM2H is a programme related to the purchase of local property by foreigners which involves the Immigration Department as well as local land policy.

In Sarawak, Abdul Karim noted, the MM2H programme is handled by the Immigration Department and involves the Sarawak Land Code while on the federal side, it is handled by the National Immigration Department and follows the National Land Policy which is different.

Among those present at the event were Deputy State Secretary Datu Dr Sabariah Putit, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting and Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee. — DayakDaily