PENAMPANG: The Moyog River Raft Festival, Malaysia’s sole event held in conjunction with World Rivers Day, is not merely a carnival but a way to raise local awareness on the preservation of rivers here.
Speaking to the press during the event, organizing manager Jacky Lettong said the event has been held annually on September 27 since 2012 at the village.
“Actually, World Rivers Day is held around the world but in Malaysia it is only celebrated in this village,” he said.
“It is celebrated around the world as the river is actually the artery to the world. If there is no river, the world’s artery would be gone. The world will not survive without the river. That’s why we have to take care of the river,” explained Jacky.
Villages located within three kilometres on the Moyog River banks, from Kampung Kuai to Kedundungan, took part in the festival here yesterday.
The event is held to raise public awareness through activities like cleaning the river of waste, decorated raft, raft tug-of-war and competitions such as children arts, handicrafts and fishing competitions.
“This is not solely a carnival but for the purpose of the river’s preservation and conservation. We hope that a time will come when the Moyog River will get better and clean again like in the old days,” said Jacky.
The four Moyog River Raft teams, consisting of six participants from the river bank villages travelled an hour from Kampung Kedundungan to the Kampung Kuai Jetty during the festival.
Participants built their decorated bamboo base rafts together within two weeks, and a day was solely dedicated to source the bamboos. Participants would work on building the rafts together during their free time in the evenings. Besides bamboo, floats were also used as the base of the raft structure for safety reasons, said the organizing manager.
For safety reasons, safety officers and authorities such as Royal Malaysian Police and Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department also joined the participants on the raft, he added.
Penampang district officer Luvita Koisun officiated the event which was organized by CLEAR (Community-Led Environmental Awareness for our River) together with the state government, Sabah Fisheries Department, Rukun Tetangga of the area and Tagah Terawi. Some 1,500 fish fries were also released into the Moyog River during the event.