Arts and culture not to be forsaken in the quest for progress

Is there still any voice saying that ethnic groups are being marginalised in Malaysia’s development as we approach 2050? YB Brigadier General Khairy Jamaluddin has once again journeyed to the Land of the Hornbills to listen to the concerns and views of the rakyat, particularly the youth living in rural areas; to hear and understand their aspirations and ideas as well as meeting the potential future leaders of our nation.

The recent TN50 Dialogue held at sarawak Cultural village which I attended allowed me to witness firsthand that ethnic youths have no qualms about sharing their own aspirations to ensure themselves a bright future. Many young folk who were present at the dialogue expressed their desire to have streamlined development, economic progress, technological advances and modernisation akin to that in areas within the Peninsula, without neglecting their arts and cultural heritage, which is very much ingrained in the lives of the sarawakian people.

Infrastructure development is important to the people of sarawak as it would mean better road networks, with quicker and more convenient access between cities.

With these improvements, businesses would be able to run more effectively, jumpstarting the local economy while raising the living standards of sarawakians. During the dialogue, most sarawakians conveyed their wish to have further development and facilities in the state to improve the current situation.

To guarantee successful economic growth in sarawak, digital economy must be introduced as soon as possible to ensure a shared and balanced progress across the entire nation as we approach 2050.

For example, high speed internet access should be available in all areas as a first step to creating more job opportunities. The introduction of digital economy in sarawak will also indirectly encourage the youth to explore entrepreneurial fields as well reduce the rate of unemployment.

This economic progress has the potential to increase the number of businesses that will help the local community increase their income, through the availability of job opportunities offered in various fields and expertise.

At the same time, while in the pursuit of modernisation; arts and cultural aspects should not be ignored as they are an invaluable representation of the sarawakian identity.

While technology is a focus for today’s youths, we must continuously enforce and safeguard our ethnic and national identities. To ensure that youth are familiar with arts and culture from early on, the implementation of arts and cultural programs should not only be part of the school syllabus, but through carefully structured and planned programs beyond the classroom environment. It is not only the responsibility of all relevant institutions to preserve sarawak’s arts and culture, but this can also be assimilated into the aspirations of becoming a true 1Malaysia.

Arts and culture have the ability to foster unity amongst races and create harmony between peoples. Hence, the uniqueness of identity, legacy, way of life and culture should be maintained so that the country can pursue progress in sustainability; nurturing the spirit of belonging and national pride among us all.

In addition, as a country that is rich in arts and culture, the organising of arts and cultural festivals have great potential to boost the tourism industry in sarawak, which will contribute to the country’s economic growth. I would be fully supportive if such activity was held on a regular basis, so that the number of cultural festivals will increase; enabling us to showcase our rich heritage of cultural arts on an international level, and attracting more tourists to Malaysia. Serious emphasis should be given to this, as we cannot foresee what changes may happen in the next 30 years. such programmes not just highlight our cultural arts but preserve them for our generations.

One of the great example of this effort is the establishment of the Cultural Economy Development Agency or Agensi Pembangunan Ekonomi Kebudayaan (CENDANA) which promotes and develops the local arts and culture industry. During the launch of CENDANA, Prime Minister Datuk seri Najib Tun Razak said that the arts and culture industry is a key component in developing a new national asset, while announcing an allocation of RM 20 million towards the optimal development of the cultural arts industry.

As TN50 Ambassador, the massive growth of Malaysia in the next 30 years in various sectors, especially in sarawak, is very much anticipated. It is my hope that our arts and cultural assets will never be forsaken, while the nation is pursuing advancement in other fields. As a native of sarawak, improvements in terms of development, education, lifestyle and economic progress in the state are catalysing waves of change that will help stimulate the beginnings of a great future for the Country, underlined by the Transformasi National 2050.

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