KAPIT: Political secretary to the Chief Minister, Wilson Nyabong Ijang said the hosting of the Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari had helped promote the local culture, especially the longhouse traditions, and Kapit to the outside world.
“We have the products such as the Iban traditions, the longhouse and nature that is rich and flora and fauna,” Wilson said when he officiated at the meet-the-people’s session held to coincide with the launching of the Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari at its first flag-off point at Rumah Salang, Pulau Sibau, Mujong on Thursday evening.
He was representing Senior Minister and Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.
“The participation of outside teams will contribute to the local economy as they spend their money here,” he said, adding that this series of the competitions, which is held each year at different locations, is to provide an opportunity for the people in those areas to host and participate in the international competition.
“This year the hosting of the rafting competition falls on Easter celebration (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday) that is regarded as one of the most important celebrations in the Christian calendar. Despite such shortcomings, the programme has to go on,” he said, extending his apology on behalf of the organising committee to all Christians, and wishing them all a Happy Easter.
On politics, Wilson said the Hulu Rejang seat might see a new candidate, hinting that a private secretary to the Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing, Wilson Ugak Kumbong as the potential candidate.
“With his vast experience as political secretary and involvement in politics, I have full confidence in Ugak. Give him the chance like we have done to the incumbent Hulu Rejang Member of Parliament, Datuk Billy Abit Joo,” he said.
At the function he congratulated Penghulu Salang Anak Batang on his appointment as Penghulu.
The competition this year saw the participation of some 39 teams with one team withdrawing at the very last minute to compete in the five categories namely Men’s Bamboo Open, Paddle Boat (new category to replace the tourist event), Men’s Bamboo Closed, Women’s Bamboo Open and Men’s Free Style event.
Of the 39 teams, 11 took part in the Men’s Open, 5 teams each for the Paddle Boat and Women’s Open, 7 teams in Men’s Free Style and 11 teams in the Men’s Bamboo Close category.
Among those present at the function were political secretaries to the Chief Minister, Wilson Nyabong Ijang, Dr Richard Will, Tengku Geruna and Daniel Jubang; Deputy Resident Mohd Ikhmal Abdullah; Walikota of Kapit District Council, Philimon Nuing; CEO of CMS, Datuk Richard Curtis; private secretary to Tan Sri James Jemut Masing, Wilson Ugak Kumbong; Pemanca Tan Kian Hoo; community leaders, councillors, several heads of government departments, team captains of the rafting competitors and some 500 longhouse folks and invited guests.
To coincide with the programme various activities were held namely free health screening, health talk by the Health and Medical department and awareness talk on fire fighting and prevention by the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba).