BETONG, May 19 — Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah dismissed claims by a university professor that holding a Gawai Dayak beauty contest is demeaning to the Dayak women.

He said, instead, the contest serves to show to the nation and world the rich cultures, traditions, and customs of the Dayak community.

“Recently we had an individual saying such a contest should not be held as it was demeaning to the women,” he said at the Betong Division Gawai Dayak celebration here last night.

“I think whoever that person is he does not understand what is being displayed and these are our rich heritages,” he said commenting on academic Professor Datuk Dr Jayum Jawan, who labelled Kumang (Queen) beauty pageants held annually as part of Gawai celebrations as “demeaning” to Dayak women.

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Uggah said the most important thing in the contest is the display of traditional accessories by the beauty pageants.

“To me, there are at least 10 different types merged into one to beautify our Dayak ladies. These have profound meaning to us,” he said.

He also believed the annual Gawai Dayak celebration is a time to show that the Dayak community has its culture and traditions.

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Ericka ak Peter, 20 was was crowned with the Kumang title winner while Clara Amanda anak Buyong, 23, came second while Jasnita Rendu Jenggie, 20 came in third place.

Uggah’s wife Datuk Doreen Mayang presented the prizes to the winners and other finalists.