BELAGA, May 23 — Sarawak Deputy Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Snowdan Lawan today called for efforts to be intensified to preserve the Sekapan ethnic group and their cultural heritage from becoming extinct in the current of modernisation.

He said the latest data from the Department of Statistics states that the population of the Sekapan ethnic group in Sarawak is less than 1,000 people who are living in only villages in Belaga district.

“It is something that needs to be looked at seriously, fearing that one day they will become extinct like other ethnic groups that have become extinct,” Snowdan was quoted by the Sarawak Public Communications Unit as saying at the opening ceremony of the “Get-to-know Sekapan Culture Programme” at the Sekapan Piit village here yesterday.

He said Sekapan is one of the unique ethnic minorities in Sarawak that is rich in cultural heritage, arts and an impressive way of life. However, he said many people do not know the existence of the Sekapan ethnic group, including the Sarawak community itself.

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In this regard, he said, he welcomed the move by the Belaga Sekapan Ethnic Association (PBSB) to organise Sekapan Cultural Heritage Programme which is seen as a strategic platform to highlight the unique cultural heritage.

“Events like this are very appropriate to show that the Sekapan ethnic group does exist and there are records and books as well as photographs as evidence,” he said.

He said that the ethnic group was placed in the Kajang ethnic category in the early 1980s and included in the provisions of Article 161 A (6) of the Federal Constitution, together with the Kejaman, Punan, Tanjong and Kenawit ethnic groups.

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Sarawak Deputy Minister of Utilities and Telecommunications and Member of the Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang congratulated the PBSB, Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts and the Belaga District Office for organising the two-day programme.

Liwan said the programme is very good in exposing the children of Sekapan so that they do not forget their culture and origin.

Later, Snowdan handed over RM15,000 to the women’s bureau and another RM10,000 to the youth bureau of Sekapan Piit village.

Liwan also contributed RM15,000 to the Kajang Association and RM15,000 to the Sekapan Belaga Ethnic Association.