Niah National Park on track to become Unesco heritage site

A sight to behold: The entrance to a cave at the Niah National Park.

KUCHING: Sarawak’s Niah National Park is in the process of being nominated as a Unesco World Heritage Site, with a final report expected to be submitted next year.

State Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said a draft dossier compiled by the relevant stakeholders would be submitted to the United Nations body by September.

“The final dossier will be submitted by February 2023, which will be followed by evaluation by advisory bodies for the final decision by the Unesco World Heritage Committee in July, before Niah National Park can be inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List,” he told the Sarawak legislative assembly in his winding-up speech here yesterday.

If the nomination is successful, Niah will be Sarawak’s second Unesco World Heritage Site after Mulu National Park.

The caves at Niah National Park are an important archaeological site, where some of the oldest human remains in South-East Asia have been discovered.

Abdul Karim also said efforts were being made with the Sarawak Museum Department, Council for Native Customs and Traditions, Sarawak Forestry Department, Tatau district office and community leaders to salvage three kliriengs (burial poles) found in Sungai Penyarai in Tatau, near Bintulu.

Karim said the kliriengs were discovered during a recent drought.

“From what I gather, the kliriengs were thrown into the river because apparently they were associated with bad luck.

“We have sent officials from the Museum to do a study as I believe the kliriengs have historical value,” he said, adding that the burial poles were made from belian, a local hardwood.

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