TENOM: One of the ways to preserve and empower the customs and culture of Murut is through documenting and publishing them for future reference, especially for future generations, said Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Radin Malleh.
He said the Murut community was fortunate to be free to practise their customs and culture.
In fact, the mother tongue of Murut and Murut songs can be heard every day on the radio channel, Murut dictionary and other printed publications.
“All the publications are a significant benchmark of Murut people who are said to be one of the oldest indigenous people in Malaysia, especially in Sabah,” he said in his speech when officiating at the Melalap constituency’s Kalimaran Festival held at OKK Sanggau Jalang hall in Melalap new town here yesterday.
He said, Owen Rutter, a British District officer who served in five residencies in Sabah and also 18 months as an investigating officer in his book “The Pagans of North Borneo”, in 1929, on page 21 said: “Since the early history of the human race is a story of continual migration, it is difficult to say who were the aborigines of any country. But since there is no evidence to show that those early settlers, whose descendants are now called broadly Muruts and Dusuns, reached anything but an unpopulated land, they may be considered the first inhabitants of North Borneo.”
In this regard, he said, the Murut must cooperate in line with the theme of this Festival, “Rondo Guang, Rondo Sukuon (one heart, one goal) to uphold the culture and progress of Murut people and to compete with other races in the country.
He also asked RTM to provide Murut news slots on TV for several minutes once a week or one or two minutes daily like Kadazan and Dusun news slots on TV at present.
According to him, It will not only increase the public’s knowledge, but also encourage the interest of local youths to support the development of the Murut Culture.
“I am willing to give support if Sabah Murut Association (PMS) puts forward this proposal to the ministry concerned,” he said.
Radin, who is also Melalap assemblyman, said the government always encouraged non-governmental organizations such as the PMS to organize cultural, social and community programs that would foster unity and community development such as this Kalimaran Festival.
As a representative of the Murut community in the Sabah Cabinet, he expressed his appreciation to the federal government and state governments who provided financial assistance to cover the cost of the Kalimaran Festival, as well as proving the government’s recognition of the role and contribution of the Murut community in the development of this country, especially Sabah.
He said efforts to preserve and develop the Murut Culture involved the cooperation and contributions of all parties in the state.
All events, including the Makibombong ceremony and the Ralaa Kalimaran contest organized in conjunction with the Kalimaran Festival, will give the people especially the Murut youths to recognize the Murut culture and to highlight their talents and creativity.
“In this regard, appropriate assessments and improvements to these events should be made from time to time to ensure the achievement of the goals of the Kalimaran Festival.
“Public awareness on Murut’s customs and culture can also be expanded through social media and in this case, PMS can also create its website to facilitate the public to obtain information about customs and Murut cultural events such as this Kalimaran Festival , “he said.
Radin said the Kalimaran Festival would generate economic development especially tourism in this area besides highlighting other tourist locations such as the Mini Murut Museum at Sabah Murut Cultural Centre, Sabah Agriculture Park, Kalang Waterfall and so on.
He also proposed that Sabah Murut Cultural Centre be privatized to increase its potential as a tourist promotion centre and local culture in this area.
The people, especially the Murut community, should take advantage to increase their income as tour guides, homestay service providers, makers of handicrafts, Murut traditions dress, creators of Murut cultural embroidery and motives and Murut traditional food and drink sellers.
According to him, the Kalimaran Festival also provides opportunities for those who are involved in handicraft, clothing, embroidery and others in producing and marketing quality creative products, as well as educating the public on the uniqueness and beauty of Murut ethnic customs and cultures.
“The government always provides opportunities for the people especially the youths to engage in entrepreneurship as well as various other socioeconomic activities, besides participating in community programs that can enhance their potential.
“The youths should always be positive, rational and wise in thinking of something that is not easy to get and caught up in activities that can spoil their future and destroying the family institution of the Murut community,” he said.
Also present at the function were Kemabong assemblyman Datuk Rubin Balang, Tenom MP Datuk Raime Unggi, Senator Datuk Dr Lucas Umbul, organising chairman Aniff OKK Datuk Sanggau, goverment officials and community leaders.