Showing posts with label Malaysia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Malaysia. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sarawak Embraces Ethnic Diversity

People of Sarawak

8 Feb 2011 03:00 Africa/Lagos

Sarawak Embraces Ethnic Diversity

KUTCHING, SARAWAK, Malaysia, February 8, 2011/PRNewswire/ -- One of the most attractive features of Sarawak, setting it apart from many of Malaysia's other states, is its cultural diversity. Sarawak has a population of 2.5 million, with 27 distinct indigenous ethnic groups that speak at least 45 different languages and dialects.

The State's socio-economic development has helped to develop a progressive community with a strong ethnic identity among its people regardless of their origins or religious beliefs. Half of Sarawak's population live in rural areas; the other half live in towns. Of the 27 ethnic groups, all except the Chinese and the Indians are indigenous. Sarawak's cities and towns are generally populated by Chinese and Malays and a growing number of indigenous people who have migrated from rural villages.

Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud said:

"A strong Sarawak cannot exist unless all races unite. We cannot build our State and fulfill our aspirations without working together."

Increasingly, employment and business opportunities are being created for the people of Sarawak, including those in rural areas predominantly populated by indigenous communities, as more industrial and commercial projects are implemented in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) development area. SCORE, one of five regional development corridors throughout Malaysia, will transform Sarawak into a developed state by 2020. Focussing on five major growth nodes - Tanjung Manis, Samalaju, Mukah, Baram and Tunoh - SCORE will develop 10 key industries including hydropower, heavy industry and tourism. Baram, currently a rural and underdeveloped area, will benefit from a new hydro dam. As a result, the district will attract a wide range of industries such as palm oil, pulp and paper and timber which will provide job opportunities for the indigenous people living there and ensure that Baram is not excluded from mainstream development.

Sarawak is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia because of its rich cultural diversity. A variety of colorful festivals, rituals and practices attract tourists all year around. Tucked away on the foothills of legendary Mount Santubong, 35 km from Kuching, is Sarawak's fascinating cultural showcase, the "Sarawak Cultural Village" which is also the venue for the internationally renowned Rainforest World Music Festival. This living museum depicts the heritage of Sarawak's major racial groups and portrays their respective lifestyles amidst 14 acres of tropical vegetation and attracts thousands of visitors a year.

The Ibans, members of a major ethnic group in Sarawak, were once the legendary warriors of Borneo; the most feared of the headhunting tribes. These days, they have adopted a peaceful agrarian lifestyle. There are also the Bidayuhs (land inhabitants), known as the "Land Dayaks"; the Melanau fishermen of Central Sarawak, and the multitude of upriver tribes who collectively form the Orang Ulu. The Penans are the guardians of the rainforest and although most of them have now formed permanent settlements, a negligible number of Penans still live in nomadic communities.

Source: Asia Newswire

Contact:, Phone: +60138269132, Viv Jemmett

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Call for Action to Thwart Bid by Libya, and other notorious human rights abusers, to join UN Human Rights Council

5 May 2010 13:15 Africa/Lagos

Call for Action to Thwart Bid by Libya, and other notorious human rights abusers, to join UN Human Rights Council

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Two UN watchdog organizations today urged the United Nations General Assembly to reject five candidates for the United Nations Human Rights Council- Libya, as well as Angola, Malaysia, Mauritania, and Qatar.

In a May 13 election among the UN General Assembly membership, 14 of the 47 seats on the Council will be filled as part of the annual rotation of membership. Member States must receive at least 97 affirmative votes in order to be elected. Each regional group is allotted a number of spaces, and individual countries in those groups can declare themselves to be candidates for those seats.

In a report issued today at the United Nations in New York, UN Watch and Freedom House express particular concern for the lack of qualified candidates from the Africa regional group. "At a time when the ranks of African democracies are growing, it sends a terrible message to the world that a notorious human rights abuser such as Libya appears uncontested on the ballot." said Thomas O. Melia, deputy executive director of Freedom House. "Africa's positive political trajectory over the past decade can be better represented than by the current list of candidates, which includes such distinctly non-democratic states such as Angola and Mauritania."

Candidates considered "not qualified" have sub-par human rights records at home and also have consistently voted against or abstained from resolutions condemning serious human rights violations, including those of North Korea, Sudan and Iran. Two other candidate states deemed "not qualified," both in the Asian region, are Malaysia and Qatar.

"Freedom House and UN Watch urge all UN General Assembly members not to write in the name of Libya or other unqualified states when filling out the slots on their secret ballot," said Hillel Neuer, executive director, UN Watch. "They should instead write in the names of countries with far greater qualifications."

Countries in the Africa regional group deemed "qualified" by the two organizations and could be written in include Cape Verde, Botswana, Mali and Tanzania. Countries in the Asia regional group deemed "qualified" include Papua New Guinea and Micronesia.

"It is our hope that better qualified countries in the Africa and Asia groups would formally declare their candidacies before May 13 - and be encouraged to do so by the United States, the European Union, and the rest of the global community that respects human rights," said Melia, of Freedom House. "Member states should write in any of these better alternatives instead of the notorious regime of Colonel Qaddafi."

According to the report, of the 14 candidates announced to date, only 5 are considered to be "qualified" to serve on the Council, including Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Guatemala and Maldives. Additionally, 4 candidates are identified as having "questionable" records, including Moldova, Ecuador, Uganda and Thailand.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Source: Freedom House

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