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Ritual Platform For Batu Tungun Annual Blessing Ceremony - Sarawak Energy Continues To Work With Murum Penan Community On Preserving Heritage Sites
MURUM, 26th SEPTEMBER 2016, MONDAY: The Batu Tungun blessing ceremony, which is an annual ritual by the Penan of Murum, had special significance this year as it took place on a newly built ritual platform overlooking the rock formation. The new platform, designed and built by Sarawak Energy in partnership with the community is intended to provide a permanent area for the Penan to perform their annual ritual.
Batu Tungun is a rock formation located on the right bank of the Murum River and is held sacred by the Penan of the area for generations. Sarawak Energy recognises the significance of the Batu Tungun to the local Penans and the design of the Murum dam has taken into consideration the preservation of this rock formation as part of the cultural heritage of the indigenous community in the area.
In conjunction with the blessing ceremony, over 260 Penan students from SK Tegulang and SK Metalun received education incentives worth over RM50,000. The two local primary schools were set up by Sarawak Energy with the Department of Education to provide Murum Dam’s affected community at primary level with easier access to formal education. The incentives are meant to recognise the students efforts in attending school regularly which also contributed to the better academic achievements of these students over time.
Murum Penan Development Committee Chairman, Labang Paneh led the ceremony and he was joined by community leaders as well as hundreds of villagers from the six Penan longhouses.
The ceremony was graced by YB Liwan Lagang, the Assistant Minister for River Transportation and Safety who is also Belaga Assemblyman representing YB Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing, Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak.
Also present at the event were YB Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong, Member of Parliament for Hulu Rejang and YB Kennedy Chukpai Ugon, Murum Assemblyman.
Sarawak Energy Group Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit represented the company joined by Aisah Eden, Executive Vice President of Corporate Services and Jiwari Abdullah, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility.
This year, the event coincides with the official opening of the hydropower plant scheduled to take place the following day.
Sarawak Energy also provides a fund of RM200,000 to the Bakun Charitable Trust on annual basis to provide education incentives to Penan students in Belaga and Murum. The Belaga Penan Education Fund, is managed by a special committee.
Torstein said during his speech, “Sarawak Energy recognizes and respects the cultural importance of Batu Tungun to the local community and we are delighted to work with the community to build this special ritual platform. In preserving cultural heritage, we also believe that education is an important factor for any community – urban or rural - to develop and progress. We are honoured that we are able to contribute towards a brighter future for the local children at Murum by investing in their education,” said Torstein.
Commenting on the ceremony, Liwan said; “The Batu Tungun annual ritual brings together the Penans in Murum who might otherwise not have many opportunities to get together. Previously, the ceremony was conducted separately by the individual longhouses and villages but now the different villages unite to perform the ritual in the comfort of this new facility.
The school children here, in addition to receiving the education incentives, are also witnessing this tradition and learning the significance of the Batu Tungun to their own community and their cultural identity. I am also very pleased to see that even as we respect older traditions, we are also preparing the younger generation to continue this important tradition.
With the incentive programme, we are seeing improvement in the attendance rate which presently registers at around 80 per cent. We want this to continue and improve further and in the future to provide incentive based on good academic achievements,” he concluded.