KUCHING: The Niah National Park is expected to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site by next year, says Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
The Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister said the process of inscribing the archaeological heritage of Niah's cave complex under mixed properties for natural and cultural heritage was currently ongoing.
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"The final refined dossier was submitted to Unesco on Jan 30 and we are expecting it to be inscribed in the World Heritage List by 2024," he told the state assembly when winding up matters related to his ministry on Tuesday (May 23).
To reinforce the process, Abdul Karim said a bridge and buggy trail to the main cave at Niah were being constructed, along with marketing, promotion and capacity building programmes for the local community.
If successful, Niah will be Sarawak's second Unesco World Heritage Site after the Gunung Mulu National Park, which was inscribed in 2000 for its high biodiversity and limestone features.
Abdul Karim also said the Sarawak Museum Department was working with the state Forest Department to nominate Sarawak Delta Geopark as a Unesco global geopark next year.
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He said both departments were currently researching the culture and heritage within Kuching, Santubong, Bako, Bau and Padawan as key elements for the nomination.
"For this project, the Museum Department organised a two-day workshop in Bau district on March 21 and 22 to collect data on the tangible and intangible heritage, archaeological findings, traditional knowledge, language and native cuisine in the area.
"The next workshop will be in June for the Padawan subdistrict," he said.
The Sarawak Delta Geopark was officially declared Malaysia's sixth national geopark on June 20 last year.
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Abdul Karim also said the Museum Department was working to bring back a Kenyah Badeng sun hat from the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, Britain.
He said the hat was taken from the Kenyah Badeng during a tribal war in the Baram area and ended up in Britain.
"During the department's last trip to London, the delegates initiated a courtesy visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum to discuss and submit an official request for the return.
"Bringing back the sun hat will give new meaning and significance to the people of Sarawak as new interpretations of old histories will come to light," he said.