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SDNU mulls copying Kalbar’s Rumah Betang Adat

by Geryl Ogilvy Ruekeith, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on July 15, 2013, Monday

KUCHING: Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) is mulling the idea of building a cultural centre similar to Rumah Betang Adat in the West Kalimantan (Kalbar) capital city of Pontianak, where its latest landmark, Kampung Dayak, is situated.

SDNU president Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom said SDNU is keen to emulate its Kalbar counterpart – Dewan Adat Dayak – in developing a cultural and heritage centre with Rumah Betang Adat, reputed to be the biggest Dayak cultural house in the world, as a model.

The Social Development Minister is planning to lead a team of SDNU delegates to Pontianak to study the design and structure of Rumah Betang Adat.

“I will not be conclusive on the idea as yet until I make the visit. It is important to note that the building must reflect the identity of the native race and ethnicity in the state.

“We need to consult leaders of SDNU on what is the most appropriate monument, and whether it would be in the form of a building among other things.

“We are contemplating to build one,” he told reporters when met after officiating at the launch of the Sarawak branch of Malaysian Armed Forces Indian Veteran Association (Perim) at the Kuching Indian Association multipurpose hall here yesterday.

Touching on the long-delayed Rumah Dayak building project here which is currently under construction, Mawan said SDNU is planning to convert one of the floors into a multipurpose hall to promote cultural activities.

SDNU members, fresh from their four-day goodwill visit to Pontianak and Sanggau in Kalbar recently, had voiced their opinions on building a cultural centre similar to the Rumah Betang Adat to promote Dayak culture and heritage.

Some suggested that the union utilise its 4.27-acre piece of land at Siol Kandis for the purpose. SDNU acquired the said land on June 15, 1964.

The Rumah Betang Adat was launched on July 2 by Kalbar governor Drs Cornelis MH, who is also the Dewan Adat Dayak Kalbar chairman. Built at a cost of 20 billion rupiah (RM600,000), the longhouse structure stands at seven metres high and 138 metres wide on a 1.4-metre site. The main hall can accommodate about 600 people.

The newly-completed cultural centre complements the older Rumah Betang Adat which is known for its elaborate Dayak motifs.

The old Rumah Betang Adat longhouse-like structure was built by the government in the 1980s to promote Dayak culture and arts.

The six-hectare Kampung Dayak, once completed, will complement the two Rumah Betang Adat. Its cost of construction is estimated to be around 40 billion rupiah (RM1.2 million).

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