NEWS & UPDATES
Penan Festival Strengthens Ties In Murum Resettled Communities
Sarawak Energy supports community event for preservation of cultural heritage and spirit of goodwill
BINTULU, 25th OCTOBER 2015, SUNDAY: Villagers at the Murum Resettlement area came together in the spirit of togetherness and goodwill during the Murum Penan Festival which featured a variety of traditional games and competitions.
The Murum Penan festival, organised by the Murum Penan Development Committee (MPDC) and supported by Sarawak Energy, took place concurrently in the two resettlement areas of Tegulang and Metalun.
The participants came from the seven resettled longhouses –six Penan and one Kenyah villages.
Present to officiate at the festival was Hulu Rajang Member of Parliament Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong who was accompanied by Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage and Belaga Assemblyman Liwan Lagang and Assistant Minister of Penan Affairs and Local Government and Kakus Assemblyman Datuk John Sikie Tayai.
Also present were Sarawak Energy Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit and other members of the utility’s management team including heads of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Jiwari Abdullah and Corporate Communications Peing Tajang and MPDC Chairman Labang Paneh.
The festival, held for the second time, aims to foster a closer bond among the villagers and encourage a sense of belonging. In addition, the festival is meant to preserve the communities’ cultural heritage through traditional games such as the Orang Ulu wrestling test of strength ‘Payu’ and blow pipe skills competition.
“We are pleased to support the communities in both Tegulang and Metalun in the organising of this event and in providing other forms of support. It gives a platform for the communities to come together to celebrate and develop closer ties,” said Torstein.
A key event of the festival was the debut of the album by sape maestros from Murum and Sungai Asap resettlements entitled “Sape Classics from Belaga” . The album was initially launched by the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Adenan Haji Satem at his office at Wisma Bapa Malaysia on 22nd October, 2015.
The album’s production was sponsored by Sarawak Energy and contains sape renditions by master sape musicians Kuit Kilah and his brother Laing Kilah from Long Wat, Tegulang together with Munan Epui from Uma Nyavieng of Sungai Asap. Laing and wife Kulat were also recorded singing the haunting ‘sinui’ Penan depicting their lives in traditionally humble lyrical style.
The first batch of album production saw the release of 1,000 CDs of which Sarawak Energy purchased 400 pieces to be given out as corporate gifts. The musicians then contributed half of the proceeds from this initial purchase to the Murum resettled communities through MPDC which was received by Labang.
Sarawak Energy has been actively assisting the resettled communities through the provision of facilities and amenities namely better housing, access roads, clean water and 24-hour electricity supply, transportation and government medical services.
To ensure children who were previously denied formal education due to their nomadic lifestyles, Sarawak Energy worked with the Education Department to set up two primary schools in Tegulang and Metalun currently registering a total enrolment of 328 students.
The power company also narrowed the literacy gap among Penan adults through its flagship Murum Penan Literacy Programme. The award winning programme has enabled over 300 adults to undertake basic reading, writing and arithmetic as part of their transition into mainstream development. This programme has expanded to stage three which encompasses personal development, hygiene, nutrition and health, essential living skills such as simple accounting, home economy and parenting workshops.
Other community development programmes which have been extended to the Penans include enhancing agricultural and traditional craft making skills to improve the villagers’ household income while preserving their culture and heritage at the same time.
In the development of the HEP, Sarawak Energy took special consideration to preserve the Penans’ Batu Tungun rock formation which is considered sacred. The Murum dam crest was deliberately re-designed to preserve the site. A ritual at this sacred site is held annually by the Penans in Murum.