S’wak seeks return of Kedayan artefacts from London museum

Abang Johari (sixth right) joins the cutting of yellow glutinous rice. From left are Miri Kedayan Association chairman Mohamad Abdullah Jamin, his wife Rochelle Abdullah, Rosey, Abdul Karim, Ripin, Lee, Lukanisman, Ting, and Dennis.

MIRI: The Sarawak government is looking into working with the Natural History Museum in London on the return of Kedayan artefacts.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the cooperation could include sharing information related to the history of the Kedayan community in Sarawak.

“The cultural heritage or the original items belonging to the Kedayan people actually have been placed at the Natural History Museum in London.

“I’ve been in the said museum and saw for myself the Kedayan community’s artefacts, when conducting a visit to study the involvement of (naturalist Alfred Russel) Wallace in biodiversity development of natural selection together with Charles Darwin in Sarawak,” he said during the Miri Kedayan Association’s charity dinner on Friday.

He said bringing the artefacts back to Sarawak is significantly important to document the history of the Kedayan community in all aspects of development.

Abang Johari said he would assign Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to discuss the matter with Sarawak Museum Department director Ipoi Datan.

He added Yayasan Sarawak would offer funding to those pursuing master’s and doctorate (PhD) degrees in sociology in order for accurate information to be collected to document the origins of the Kedayan community from the perspective of language, culture, history, and arts.

Abang Johari said the education sponsorship is similar to what he offered to the Miri Jatti Meirek Association earlier this year.

“Such academic research work is very important for the future generation’s reference. Who knows that there might be a possibility that the Kedayan community can be also found in Kalimantan, besides Sabah and Brunei Darussalam,” he said.

In addition to that, he pointed out the academic research could also involve scientific studies on the Kedayan community’s traditional medicine practices.

He also promised to assist with efforts to construct the Kedayan Heritage Building in Bekenu.

“I’m still waiting for the final architecture plan for the proposed building project. Once the project is ready, the state government will give some government grants to assist in the project implementation,” he said.

He also announced a grant of RM100,000 for the Miri Kedayan Association.

Among those present were Assistant Minister of Women, Family and Childhood Development Rosey Yunus, who is also Miri Kedayan Association advisor; Lambir assemblyman Ripin Lamat, who is also Sarawak Kedayan Association president; Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin; Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting; Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau; and Sibuti member of parliament Lukanisman Awang Sauni.

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