KUCHING: The government, through Sarawak Foundation, is prepared to give scholarships to Sarawak students from among the minority groups who want to do post-graduate linguistic studies.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said he shared the concerns among the minority groups over the erosion of their languages, and assured them that scholarships would be made available for any student wishing to do research on their languages.
“Two weeks ago I was with the Kedayan community who requested us, if possible, to find ways and means to promote their language because it’s on the brink of extinction.
“The same goes with another group called Miriek – their language is almost extinct. I was with the Melanaus too recently who said due to inter-marriages and migration to the urban areas, the second generation Melanaus now do not know how to speak the language, despite being ethnically Melanaus,” he said this at the launch of Bidayuh Cultural Symposium 2018 hosted by Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) here yesterday.
Abang Johari added that other minor groups might be facing the same problem and therefore, he agreed with the DBNA resolution to sustain the Bidayuh language and strive to build linguistic journals reflecting the various Bidayuh dialects in Sarawak.
He assured all of his support for DBNA and other ethnic groups for whatever programme that they are running to sustain their languages.
“I suggest to the Kedayans and Mirieks that if there is any student from their lot who wants to do post-graduate linguistic studies, we would provide them with scholarships to do research on their language.
“The same goes for the Bidayuhs. If you have any student in university doing research on post-graduate linguistic studies, Sarawak Foundation would provide scholarships for them,” he said.
On matters relating to the arts, dances and stories, Abang Johari said the ethnic groups must explore ways and means to promote their cultural identity.
In Sarawak, it is common among the native population to appreciate the value of gongs and drums – the most common instruments in every community – the Bidayuh, the Melanaus, the Ibans, and the Malays, to name a few.
“This means there must be some historical connection between us. We may have come from the same stock. In terms of culture, we too may have come from the same stock.
“We appreciate our culture; we appreciate the wealth of our culture – they are the basis for us to move forward together,” he said.
Mas Gading MP Mordi Bimol, Puncak Borneo MP Willie Mongin, Assistant Minister of Native Land Development Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn, Tasik Biru assemblyman Datuk Henry Harry Jinep, DBNA president Dato Ik Pahon Joyik, and former DBNA presidents Dato Sri Robert Jacob Ridu and Datuk Peter Minos were also present at the event.