KUCHING: There is a need to create a strong repository on the state’s ethnic groups with their tangible and intangible heritage through serious documentation.
A senior lecturer in Anthropology and Sociology, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Dr Elena Gregoria Chai said this would allow people from other parts of Malaysia and the neighbouring countries to know more about the unique Sarawak identity.
She said this during ‘The Sarawak Initiative Leadership Programme’ webinar entitled Sarawak Identity Through Heritage on Sunday (Aug 8).
“I think we should put all the heritage from our over 30 different ethnic groups upfront and showcase how there is not one or a few ethnic groups that represent Sarawak.
“For me, the Sarawak identity is very diversified, thus we should not homogenise it. This is also applicable to Malaysia’s national identity in which we are known to be very diversified, so there is no homogenous identity for the country,” she explained.
On the portrayal of Sarawak in the country’s tourism activities, Elena noted that there were only certain features being captured and showcased to the world.
She said the Sarawak Malay group was mostly affected as the group was being portrayed as the same with the Malays in Peninsular Malaysia.
“Our Sarawak Malay heritage is very different from the one in Malaya. People may assume the two groups are the same, but this is not the case,” she asserted.
Elena said that Sarawak’s tangible and intangible heritage like dances must be captured and interpreted.
“These tangible and intangible heritage cannot be neglected. If we can capture and study the different motions, rhythm and musical instrument accompanying the dances, we will see that they are very different for the various ethnic groups,” she added.