KUCHING: Forum Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi (Formadat) – a transboundary, grassroots initiative in highlands in the Heart of Borneo (HoB) – recently made a working visit to the city to garner support from several government agencies for its initiatives and activities.
They met Sarawak Forest Department director Sapuan Ahmad to present proposals drawn up during a strategic planning workshop organised last year, and how the 10-year-old forum can move forward.
They also visited Sarawak Museum Department, State Immigration Department and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) to share Formadat’s mission, future plans and activities, according to a press statement.
During their meeting with State Immigration Department director Datu Robert Lian, Formadat brought up the government’s plan for a border entry post to be built in Ba’ Kelalan to facilitate transboundary crossing between Ba’ Kelalan and neighbouring Long Bawan, Indonesia.
They also met a Rurum Kelabit Sarawak president Dato’ Isaac Lugun who accepted his appointment as Formadat Sarawak’s patron.
The four-member delegation was led by Formadat Sarawak chairman Penghulu George Sigar Sultan. The others were Formadat Sarawak deputy John Tarawe, Buduk Nur village chief Yudan Meru and Long Semadoh Naseb village chief Tagko Gugkang.
They were accompanied by WWF-Malaysia community engagement and education senior officer Alicia Ng who helped coordinate the trip, and had been working closely with the highland community.
They held discussions with potential rice buyers interested to purchase the highland Adan rice – a fine grain with soft texture and a sweet fragrance.
George was pleased with the outcome of the trip as more government and private organisations were now aware of Formadat’s presence, its objectives and future plans.
“A few years back, no one knew about us. But now they have heard about us before we even visit them. We owe this to our supporter WWF-Malaysia for helping provide exposure of our alliance to others.
“We held brainstorming sessions with government agencies on how to work together, particularly in the Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge,” he said.
The Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge, the first of its kind to be held in the highlands, will start from Ba’ Kelalan and go on to Lepo Bunga, Mount Murud (Church Camp), Long Rebpun, Pa’ Lungan before ending in Bario.
The final day of the event will coincide with the first day of the 10th Bario Slow Food and Cultural Festival running from July 30 to Aug 1.