SARAWAK, MALAYSIA – Organised by Joe Sidek Productions, the third edition of the annual Rainforest Fringe Festival (RFF) has officially opened, graced by the royal attendance of Duli Yang Maha Mulia (HRH) Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.
Hosted by Ministry of Tourism, Art, Culture, Youth & Sports Sarawak (MTACYS), RFF is held as a prelude to the annual Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF). Datu Dr Sabariah Putit, Deputy State Secretary, gave a heartwarming welcome note and the event was later officiated by Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth & Sports Sarawak, YB Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah. The launch event saw state officials, arts and culture enthusiasts from all over the world, members of the Kuching high-society in attendance.
Commenting on the presence of Duli Yang Maha Mulia (HRH) Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, Minister YB Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said: “Her Majesty the Queen is well known in Pahang for her down-to-earth and pleasant personality. Her Majesty’s unassuming demeanor allows Tunku to mingle freely with the public, sometimes causing people to become nonplussed when they finally recognise Tunku.”
“An expert on traditional cuisine, Her Majesty is in fact, an expert of the cuisines of Tunku home state of Johor and the state of Pahang, and has published no less than 3 recipe books between 2005 and 2018. Her Majesty has also displayed her culinary skills at many public events and has even helped prepare food for flood victims in the past. We hope that Your Majesty can extend your boundaries to cover Sarawak.”
Addressing the audience with an opening speech, the minister added: “Sarawak is fast developing. We are into digital inclusivity for the whole of Sarawak. And at the same time we know it is important to preserve and celebrate our culture and heritage, to keep them alive and progressive to be in tune with the needs of the world today. As Sarawakians, the essence of our differences in cultures. customs, and traditions is what makes us a harmonious people. It is through such events as these that we intent to promote, foster and nurture our ethnicities to global heights.”
He continues: “And to reflect this constant flow of the promotion of our people and the rich inheritance or textile patterns and designs, tonight’s showcase, as have been brought to my knowledge, will be of this harmonious intertwining of our indigenous groups of Sarawakians.”
This was presented via a special RFF commission, Lembaran Emas: Songket and Keringkam of Sarawak at the launch. Narrated by Sarawakian poet Zach Manan, the fashion show presented a unique collection of Sarawak songket and keringkam, featuring regal designs by ‘Malaysia’s King of Fashion’ – Dato’ Sri Bernard Chandran, and Sarawak’s own ‘Queen of Bornean Fashion’ – Dato’ Tom Abang Saufi, and Sarawak songket producer – Tanoti House.
The showcase also featured Sarawak’s emerging textile artisans – Manggees Collection, Tampan Keringkam, Keringkam Bahij and Seri Gedong Songket. Sarawak’s traditional Malay bridal wear was also featured across two collections – “Gajah Olen” by Manggees Collection and “Tikar Nyunsong Pengantin” by Tampan Keringkam.
Other programmes during the opening included performance by Gamelan Sarawak Batu 12 and a tie-in panel exhibition of songket and keringkam, showcasing the history, materials, techniques, processes and applications of the Sarawak songket and keringkam. Over the rest of the festival, Sarawak’s history and culture will be celebrated across all genres, from dance to theatre, talks to exhibitions and more. These events will also provide a platform for the enrichment and celebration of the tradition and culture of the Malay community in Sarawak, alongside the state’s cultural diversity.
Minister YB Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah concluded: “Sarawak is truly blessed with the richness of its communities – each with its own significant and unique cultural practices. They are all important to Sarawak, we are made up of all these colourful varieties and differences. We are different yet the same. We started our journeys together, through the smooth and the rough, and we will continue to appreciate our differences. That is the Sarawak people.”
“This is indeed a meaningful occasion for us,” he adds. “This is because we want to bring everyone to a deep understanding of the cultures, traditions and heritage that make up every single bit of the roots of the Sarawak people. It is from an understanding of a people’s culture and heritage that a foundation of unity, tolerance and harmony can be built to bring everyone up together to success – to world recognition.”
Rainforest Fringe Fest 2019 runs from 5th to 12th July 2019 around Kuching, Sarawak. For more information, visit their website here