KUCHING: The Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) can play an integral part in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of rapidly increasing globalisation.
Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg noted that as borders blurred and cultures mixed, it was crucial to ensure Sarawak’s rich cultures remained prominent and not be lost in the forces of advancement.
He said the ICH Humanity and Community Awards had been brought into existence with the noble objective of encouraging those who practised forms of ICH like Songket Sarawak so that they were able to sustain and refine their product.
Adding on, he said these awards presented an opportunity for the state to brand an ICH like Songket Sarawak so that it might be recognised at the global level.
“We want to be able to safeguard elements like our oral traditions and uniquely diverse dance as well as musical forms so that they may be a reference for our future generations. We want our people to know about ICH and take pride in them.
“Having an intricate art like songket to be recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an ICH not only endows it with social importance but also economic significance,” he said.
He said this during the inaugural ICH Humanity and Community Awards at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) building banquet hall on Tuesday (June 28).
Abang Johari said Songket Sarawak had the potential to play a significant role in the development of a cultural heritage base (ICHLinks) by the global community.
He said the cultural heritage base in turn offered the opportunity for sustainable development of ICH in Sarawak.
“The development of ICH in Sarawak will then help contribute to the local entrepreneurial economy and enhance the growth of the state’s overall economy,” he added.
Abang Johari said ICH was not only about safeguarding precious heritage and having them recognised globally, but also about allowing the community to create an economy out of these heritages.
“This is very much in line with the Post COVID-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 that seeks to ensure the sustainability of our resources. By giving added value and expanding the value chain of our songket, we are giving the opportunity for practitioners to be part of that process to be a high-income society by 2030.
“If we can do this, I believe our humble songket will not be a ‘kampung’ item anymore, but a global item that can fetch very high prices. We can draw example from the Korean kimchi which originates from the village but is now a global item sought by many,” he said.