Monday, April 22

SMC decides to scrap Borneo Cultural Fest


HARD DECISION: The annual Borneo Cultural Festival, with its theme “Beauty in Ethnic Diversity”, portrays the colours of harmony as the people of Sarawak share their diverse culture in the Land of the Hornbills. With 25 ethnic groups, there is much to offer in Sarawak tourism. This was what the BCF had tried to tell. For nine years, the people of Sibu participated enthusiastically with host Sibu Muncipal Council as thousands came together for the nightly cultural celebration.

SIBU: The Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) has decided to scrap the Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) this year, a decision municipal chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King said was made with a heavy heart.

He said, “This had been a hard decision and it was done with a heavy heart. Since the majority of the people in Sibu did not appreciate the work of the Sibu BN Visionary Team, we are therefore forced to cancel the BCF.”

Tiong said at the council’s monthly meeting yesterday that Sibu had managed to carve a niche for itself through BCF over the past 10 years.

He acknowledged that Sibu had been handicapped by the lack of tourism products.

With this handicap in mind, he said, the Sibu BN Visionary Team captained by Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh had come up with an initiative for Sibu – the BCF.

“Since then, BCF has become one of the signature events which could help draw on the assistance and support of the Sibu communities,” he recalled.

This community-based project had also become a public avenue to showcase the rich local cultural heritage, he said.

About two years ago, Tiong recalled, BCF was even listed as one of the events in the Sarawak Tourism Calendar.

He said the Sibu BN Visionary Team had continued to play a key role in the running and management of BCF.

“The BN Visionary Team engaged professional input for the festival, taking steps to source for financial assistance and making various attempts to promote BCF both locally and abroad, with the primary intention to help carve a name for Sibu through the BCF and also to generate some business opportunities for the local people.”

However, Tiong said the recent state election results was evident that the urban people had chosen to reject the Sibu BN Visionary Team’s efforts.

“The majority of the Sibu public has sent out a strong signal that they did not appreciate the work of the Sibu BN Visionary Team. It is therefore with deep regret as well as with a sense of dejection that we are forced to respond to this latest political climate,” he said.

Tiong admitted the current political message was simply too clear to be ignored.

At the same time, he said there was also a strong reaction from many BN supporters who wanted SMC to re-look at the BCF and some other projects.

“Against this background and after consulting all the relevant quarters, I wish to inform that we would not proceed with BCF, at least for this year.”

Tiong appreciated those who had given moral support to the council on such a drastic decision.

Later, debating on the issue, councillor Tengku Gruna said the cancellation of the BCF would be a loss to the Dayak community as they had all the while remained a strong supporter of the BN government.

“Nevertheless, we do hope that it will be organised on a biennial basis as was the original proposal.”

Another councillor feared the decision to scrap the BCF could backfire as the opposition parties might capitalise on the issue and politicise the matter, saying the council was taking such drastic action in order to punish the people for not supporting the BN candidates.

SMC deputy chairman Daniel Ngieng said the decision was final as it was taken after several brainstorming sessions with those concerned.

He said the people should look at the matter with a wider perspective.

“In politics, one just cannot be a fence-sitter. It’s either for or against,” he said.