Within twelve hours of arriving in Malaysia (Kuching, Sarawak) along with 200 others, I was planting a tree as part of the ‘greening the festival’ programme while also helping reduce our carbon footprint.
Here for the Rainforest World Music Festival for the first time, it seems this tree-planting ceremony is in its 3rd year and “helps make Kuching a livable city” said the CEO of Sarawak Tourism Datuk Rashid Khan.
Although not essential, it seems traders at the festival are “encouraged to use green products and practices so the event is not only successful, but also to leave a lasting eco-effect,” he continued.
No doubt, like most international festivals this will soon become a need to get a licence to be part of the #RWMF which is set in the Sarawak Cultural Village.
The 150 trees we (school children, musicians, journalists, concert promoters, travel writers, along with local officials and politicians) planted – in the Government offices lake compound area, Banguan Baitulmakmur – are the Golden Shower (Acacia Fistula). Evidently, over the past few years, some 2 million trees have been planted across Sarawak in events such as this: ‘We try to plant three trees for every one cut down’ someone said, ‘although it’s not always in the same area.”
Malaysia often receives bad press for the destruction of native forests and planting oil palm plantations, so it cannot be easy to convince the often cynical foreigners they want to “take care of our environment.”
“Come back and hug your tree” we are encouraged by Assistant Minister of Tourism, Datuk Gramong Juna, who said they are “trying to do good deeds to our mother earth, to take care of our environment. It’s heartening to note that the Sarawak Tourism Board has taken the government’s campaign seriously. ”
The minister continues, “We are proud to have the world’s oldest rain-forest that we have custody over. We are serious at promoting Sarawak as an eco-destination – this beautiful land where adventure lives.”
Arriving in Kuching a couple of days before the Rainforest World Music Festival I was, for one day, able to join a group of international concert promoters and journalists who were in the city for their first world music business conference and expo. It seems this was successful for many of the artists featured with their diaries filling up with dates to perform in other places.
The consensus from knowledgeable music people there (and I’m not one of them!) seemed to be that the local, traditional, music scene was creatively rich but needed support to present themselves professionally and that this expo, and the contacts made, will advance that. Good luck to them all!
Note, talking culture; the letter K at the end of a
Malaysian word, such as Sarawak, is always silent!