Kota Marudu Member of Parliament

Promote Gong Festival as tourism product — Max

KOTA MARUDU: There is more to the gong festival in Matunggong than just another traditional event.

Calling for the event to reach a higher level, not just as a state event, Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Maximus Ongkili wants the annual festival to be promoted as the Borneo Gong Festival and to become one of the tourism attractions for Sabah.

Entering its 14th year today, he said the event had the potential to be a tourism product as tourists, both domestic and from abroad, were interested to learn more on the musical instrument, its history and links to the local communities not only in the state, but also across the Borneo region.

He said, in his speech which was read by Rural Development Minister Datuk Radin Malleh, that the gong was a significant symbol for the indigenous people of Sabah, and many other indigenous communities on Borneo Island.

“In Matunggong, especially to the Rungus tribe, it is a ‘must have’ instrument.

“The gong represents not only as their main musical instrument, but also their identity, culture and tradition. The locals here don’t treat the gong as just another instrument; to them it’s a family inheritance,” Ongkili explained.

Speaking at the launching of the two-day festival which started since Oct 30, he said the gong was widely used during official events, as well as weddings and funeral services.

Themed “Momihot Tinungkusan” (preserving and conserving the local heritage), the festival, which was held at Dewan Masyarakat Pekan Matunggong, showed the state government’s effort to promote and encourage the expansion of the gong making industry as a creative art industry that would help generate income for the rural people.

But Ongkili said to ensure that the festival reached higher heights, improvements were needed, encouraging locals to improve their skills and introduce attractive activities for their guests and visitors.

“The organiser can consider to introduce activities such as the longest gong beating activity or longest gong in a line, which could help locals carve their names in the Malaysia Book of Records,” he said, adding that outsiders from neighbouring countries could also be invited to take part in the festival.

He believes that through such achievements, it will help create a good image for the district, and promote the area as a ‘must go place’ in Malaysia.


Source - The Borneo Post