KUCHING, March 23 — Major music festivals and tourism events that have been shelved for the past two years could return this year if the Covid-19 pandemic in Sarawak subsides, said Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

He hoped the globally well-known Rainforest World Music Festival, Borneo Jazz festival and Country Music Festival will be able to make a return this year.

“A lot of events are happening which make us Sarawakians proud of our city and the state. These activities also realised our Governor Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s aspiration for Kuching to turn into a city with a soul,” he said during the launch of YAST Art’s physical and digital art platform, known as “phygital” here today.

Abdul Karim said after the official opening of the RM323-million Borneo Cultures Museum, the second-largest museum in South-east Asia and the largest in Malaysia, his ministry aimed to transform the areas along the Kuching Waterfront into a lively tourism hotpot, with plans to turn the previous Kuching Municipal Council (KMC) building opposite Central Police Station at Padang Merdeka here into an art gallery.

He said he was heartened to witness the blossoming of the arts and creative scene in Kuching City as it reflected that the society has attained a higher level.

“We are also going to establish our own performing arts centre at the Old State Legislative Assembly building and I would love to see drama, singing and dancing performances at the centre every week once it’s open,” he said.

He said such progress would augur well for the future of the arts scene in Sarawak and he hoped similar development will take place at other towns and cities across the state.

Speaking on the official launching today, Abdul Karim said the “phygital” art platform was timely to include the less fortunate groups of society to improve their livelihood.

“As we progress towards a more prosperous future, I believe it is important to progress together as a community as a whole.

“That is where economic and financial inclusion come in — inclusive development that takes into account every stakeholder in the society,” he said.

He further said the YAST Art platform would be able to assist corporates and sponsors in matching their corporate social responsibility (CSR) needs with related talents or artworks, in support of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Abdul Karim also witnessed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between YASTECH Digital Solutions chief executive officer (CEO) Cheryl Toh and Junior Chamber International (JCI) Kuching president Jordan Bong to form a strategic partnership on the “phygital” artwork initiative.

YAST Art “phygital” platform leverages on emerging blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to promote the growth of the creative industry. The platform was initiated by YAST Group founder and chairlady Esther Law. — Borneo Post Online