SIBU: The authorities are urged not to remove the “klirieng” that was found in Sungai Penyarai, Kakus in Tatau in order to preserve the heritage of the Bagatan people in the area.
The 200-year-old 6.7m “klirieng” or tombstone was found in the Musken area, Sungai Penyarai on Oct 16 last year.
According to reports, it will be restored by the Sarawak Museum Department and the Sarawak Customs Council (MAIS) by moving it out of the river to a site to be determined later.
It is understood that the “klirieng” will be temporarily housed at the Tatau district office before being moved to a permanent place.
Bagatan Penyarai Tatau Heritage Conservation Committee (JPWBPT) chairman Jaing Bubun said seven longhouses in Penyasari, Kakus collectively were against it being removed from its original place.
The seven longhouses are Rumah Kanyan, Rumuh Lasok, Rumah Sebastian, Rumah Samun, Rumah Billy, Rumah James and Rumah Nyuan.
"Our intention is to help to preserve our Bagatan heritage in the Penyarai River.
"As the race that inherited the Penyarai area from our ancestors, including the 'klirieng' found in the area, we strongly object to the 'klirieng' being taken out of Penyarai.
"Instead, we suggest that the 'klirieng' be preserved at a place prepared by the Bagatan community in Penyarai," said Jaing.
In terms of history, Jaing said the “klirieng” was actually made by the Tatau (Punan) people who preceded to inhabit the place.
However, the Tatau people in an agreement with the Bagatan community, had handed over the Penyarai area to the Bagatan people.
"We understand the government's desire to help us on this matter, but the history of our Bagatan race and our relationship with the Tatau race must also be preserved in our area," he added.
Jaing said, by conserving the “klirieng”, the Penyarai area would also become a tourist attraction that could help the economy of the longhouse.
He added that if it was taken to another place, not only would they lose historical evidence in their area, but also economic opportunities for tourism.
"Therefore, we hope that our decision will be respected by the government and everyone else," he added.
The committee had installed fences at the site in an effort to stop the relocation of the tombstone and warning signs that the “klirieng” not to be taken out.