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What are you up to, Nazri?

 | June 16, 2013

Sarawak PKR has questioned Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz's bid to endear himself to Sarawakians by proposing a Istana Budaya in Sarawak.

KUCHING: Insulated Sarawakians have always been suspicious of any attempt by the federal authorities to ‘muscle’ in on the state and much of this has been due to politics and the goings-on in neighbouring Sabah.

As such newly minted Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz’s bid to endear himself with the locals by suggestion that a Istana Budaya akin to the one in Kuala Lumpur be built in Sarawak is being viewed with much suspicion here.

The question being posed is what is the real idea behind Nazri’s decision which observers here describe as “sudden”?

Wouldn’t it be wiser for Nazri to get Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to stop his obsessions with building mega dams which is seeing massive deforestations and thousands of Sarawak’s rural and Orang Ulu communities displaced and heritage compromised?

And how will having a Istana Budaya directly benefit and preserve the state’s multi-ethnic persona and its increasing unemployment rate?

Raising these and other issues, Sarawak PKR has questioned Nazri’s ‘real intentions’ and has voiced its fears that a “Istana Budaya” complex  could “easily dilute” the state’s 28 ethnic groups’ culture and heritage.

Warning Nazri not to “water down” the respective cultures in the state, PKR information chief Vernon Kedit said, with a istana budaya complex this could “easily happen”.

“We do not want a watering down of our respective cultures, or worse still, a homogenising of our various unique cultures into one homogeneous ‘culture’ that strips away at the fundamentals of our uniqueness.

“This can easily happen, and it has happened before where shortcuts were made in the interest of financial priorities,” said Kedit.

Kedit was commenting on Nazri’s decision to take up the matter at Cabinet level and seek an allocation for Sarawak’s istana budaya

Nazri is of the opinion that  Sarawak  should have its own cultural complex as it has a “diverse mix of cultures derived from its mixed races.”

The state government has allocated a piece of land in Jalan Beko for this purpose.

Get the professionals

Nazri had further suggested that the proposed complex mirror  the image of Sarawak and that a contest to be held to determine the right design for the building.

Whilst lauding the idea, Kedit was quick to question the government’s agenda, demanding to know his Nazri’s programme and his long term vision for such a centre.

“This is an excellent proposal but at the same time, it would be in the public interest to know what the Government plans are on implementing this noble idea.

“Culture is a very sensitive and subjective matter and how it is presented will inadvertently reflect Sarawak, : he said.

Kedit also pointed out a need for the federal authorities to work with the various NGOs, groups and experts in “real and tangible terms” and not for the sake of just “lip service”.

“All too often, these groups are consulted as a lip service and a show of good public relations and then the powers-that-be just do whatever they want.

“Most importantly (the governments) must appoint a professional, qualified, experienced and knowledgeable expert to head the project.

“All too often, well-meaning civil servants are the ones lumped with the project in the end and have to see it through, when the job should be executed by experienced people in the field of cultural centres,” Kedit said.


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