By: Azman Zakaria
KUCHING: The Pehin Sri Adenan Satem Chair (Kursi Tok Nan) has been established at Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu Campus (UPMKB), Sarawak, to spur research efforts and defend the unique identity and rich cultural heritage of Borneo at the international level.
A total of RM2.54 million was allocated by the Sarawak State Government for its establishment.
Sarawak Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, announced that UPMKB would lead ethnicity research in Sarawak, with a special focus on culture, language, human thoughts, art customs and traditional heritage.
He said the Pehin Sri Adenan Satem Chair would be known as a cultural heritage and treasures collection hub for various ethnic groups in Sarawak and Borneo which might face abandonment or be forgotten if no in-depth research is done.
The establishment of the chair is a research joint venture between Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and the Sarawak State Government through the Sarawak Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
He added that UPMKB’s expertise would greatly help the Sarawak Government's efforts to preserve the cultural and ethnic heritage of Borneo.
“The Sarawak Government hopes that with the founding of the Pehin Sri Adenan Satem Chair at UPM Bintulu Campus, the campus will continue to develop as a leading research centre for Borneo ethnic groups in Sarawak, with an emphasis on the cultural, linguistic and socio-economic elements.
“UPM Bintulu Campus's efforts to focus on Sarawak ethnic studies should be appreciated because we are moving towards better economic development.
“Therefore, to support this noble effort, the Sarawak Government has agreed to establish the Pehin Sri Adenan Satem Chair in honour of the former chief minister who has been a great leader throughout his life, as well as an ardent supporter and fan of arts and cultural elements," he said.
He said so in his speech while officiating the 2nd International Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities 2021 (ICOSSH 2021) here. At the ceremony, Abang Johari also witnessed the exchange of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Sarawak Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and UPM to establish the Pehin Sri Adenan Satem Chair.
Abang Johari said Sarawak has 27 ethnic groups and speaks 45 dialects.
He added that a closer look at the indigenous population and tribes in the state can be divided into sub-tribes depending on their geographical location, such as the Dayak community, which is made up of the Dayak Laut (Iban), Sebuyau, Remun, Balau and Iban Undup; Malays who are classified as Brunei Malays and Sarawak Malays; while the Oya, Daro, Balingian makes up the Melanau community.
"Certainly, this diversity of cultural forms provides a very important resource for research activities, especially on culture, language, traditional practices, performing arts and lifestyle," he said.
He explained that although the Sarawak Government is developing a digital economy, important aspects of the local culture must be preserved and promoted.
Thus, under the State Budget 2022, he said RM10 million has been allocated to establish a Heritage, Arts and Culture Facilitation Fund next year to increase tourism programmes and promotional activities in Sarawak.
"I sincerely hope that we can continue to have programmes that create opportunities and further strengthen efforts to establish academic and research collaborations between universities in Borneo and throughout the archipelago and enhance Borneo's reputation as an ecotourism destination by promoting Borneo's cultural heritage internationally," he said.
In ICOSSH21, Abang Johari said it could lead to the development of an international education hub in Borneo and build relationships to promote and nurture the diversity of cultural traditions of its community.
The two-day conference brings together participants from various backgrounds and countries such as Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Also present were Sarawak’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah; Chairman of the UPM Board of Directors, YAM Tengku Syarif Laksamana Perlis Datuk Sri Diraja Syed Razlan Syed Putra Jamalullail; Sarawak’s Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk Sebastian Ting; Tanjung Datu State Assemblyman (ADUN), Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu; UPM Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Industry and Community Relations), Professor Ir Dr. B.T. Hang Tuah Baharudin; and Director of UPMKB, Assoc. Prof. Dr Shahrul Razid Sarbini. - UPM
Date of Input: 08/11/2021 | Updated: 08/11/2021 | hairul_nizam
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