KUCHING (Aug 6): With the Kuching Festival Food Fair banning the use of polystyrene and single-use plastics for all its vendors, Kuching South mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng said markets and hawker centres are following suit.
As such, he encouraged all Kuchingnites to help take the effort one step further by doing their part in joining this initiative.
“Bring your own bags, take away in your own Tupperware, drink directly from the cup — support our hardworking traders and hawkers as they raise their own standards.
“We are working to put our events and activities on a world-class footing and with your help, we can achieve it,” he said in his welcoming speech during the 34th Kuching City Day celebration at the Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Square today.
The celebration was officiated by Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
Wee noted efforts so far have already been recognised on a world stage, firstly with the City of Unity status, followed by a World Craft City, recognised by the World Craft Council.
This year, Kuching was designated as Malaysia’s first creative city of gastronomy under UNESCO, represented for the first time at the XIV UCCN Annual Conference in Santos, Brazil.
“This enormous application, over one year in the making, involved so many stakeholders in the city. The municipality took the lead, under the Ministry of Public Health, Housing and Local Government, but supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia.
“These agencies collaborated with civil society and private enterprise to give UNESCO a full picture of how our governmental, gastronomic and creative sectors are working towards our city’s and our state’s sustainable development. The result was designation in an international network, committed to building better communities through our creative economy,” he said.
Wee said the designation is a recognition of all the efforts of both government and citizens in making Kuching “a thriving society driven by data and innovation where everyone enjoys economic prosperity, social inclusivity, and a sustainable environment.”
“This is our state government’s Post-Covid 19 development strategy, fully in line with international standards and fully reflecting the wishes, will and aspirations of Sarawak’s people. It is our city’s beacon going forward and a reflection of all that our Kuching community stands for.
“It is this spirit of community and cooperation that makes me so confident that the people of Kuching South will support us. Whether you are taking part in our public competitions to build beautiful bus stops or to post our city’s achievements on social media, the people of Kuching are always ready to take part,” he said.
Wee pointed out that it is with the people’s help that the health and hygiene standards at all facilities have never been higher.
“Our markets and hawker centres are working constantly to become more clean, efficient and sustainable. We are clearing our spaces, recycling our waste, creating compost. All this is to ensure that these long favourite places in our community remain an important hub for Kuching’s social and gastronomic culture in the future.
“All this effort has seen us recognised as an ASEAN Tourist City Standard for 2022-2024 and also four SDG Awards over 2020 and 2021,” he said.
Wee said before the Covid-19 pandemic, MBKS began to put practices on an international footing.
“On public health, we are now planning a research study to monitor the levels of Carbon dioxide in our communal spaces, making sure our air is clean, safe and well-ventilated. On sustainability, we have been working with dedicated non-governmental organisations (NGOs) across the city like Naked Wonders and Worming up to bring our facilities up to modern standards.
“Our buy-back programme has been a popular method to promote recycling in the city. Our rice straw initiative alone has so far successfully prevented 1.7 million plastic straws from entering our waterways and landfill,” he said, adding that they are upgrading their markets and soon the parks and gardens.
Also present were Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Health, Local Government and Housing Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) Datuk Bandar Datu Junaidi Reduan, and others.