THE passing of the Sarawak Craft Council Bill 2023 in the State Legislative Assembly has been received positively by some elected representatives, with it poised to showcase the rich heritage of the state’s crafts on the world stage.
According to Machan assemblyman Allen Siden Gramong, who is the son of the former chairman of the council, the bill and its passing was ‘long overdue’.
“I know the journey that the council has taken, what the council has done and what it has endured and achieved because (my father) Dato Sri Gramong Juna was its chairman from 1997 to 2016.
“I am happy that the Sarawak Craft Council will be established as a legal entity after so long – the Bill is long overdue,” he said when debating the bill in the august house.
Repok assemblyman Datuk Huang Tiong Sii echoed his sentiments, saying that it was ‘high time’ the council was established as the state authority for the regulation and development of crafts – especially since the World Craft Council awarded the title of ‘World Craft City’ to Kuching in 2019 – and the bill will only strengthen the state government’s commitment in promoting Sarawak’s cultural heritage and reputation as a leading crafts destination.
“Sarawak’s arts and crafts are a reflection of its identity and cultural heritage, and its 31 ethnic groups with their artisans who have mastered both conventional and contemporary techniques truly unique to Sarawak.
“We have many craft experts who have gain recognition at the international level – for example, keringkam embroidery; pua kumbu weaving; and handwoven crafts, baskets and beadwork. Through these crafts, we have the opportunity to learn the history and significance of each craft to Sarawak’s ethnic groups,” he said during the debate.
Meanwhile, Bukit Assek assemblyman Chieng Jin Ek said that the council has the potential to play a transformative role in promoting Sarawak’s traditional cultural expressions both nationally and internationally.
Citing Sarawak’s recent triumph at the London Craft Week, where it stole the spotlight with its songket, keringkam and woven crafts, Chieng said the council serves as the custodian of traditional cultural expression and by promoting these traditions, ensures their preservation and transmission to future generations.
“By valuing and celebrating the cultural expressions of all races, we foster a sense of pride and identity while strengthening the fabric of our society. By incorporating modern methods of production, management, marketing and digital technology, the council can enable artisans to meet contemporary demands while preserving the essence of these traditional crafts,” he said.
He added that the council’s role in monitoring and improving the quality and production of these crafts is crucial for both local and foreign markets, as by ensuring consistent quality the crafts will gain a reputation of excellence – making them more attractive to customers and collectors.