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Malaysia Travel Guide

RWMF CLOSES WITH 23,650 FESTIVAL-GOERS

KUCHING – Sarawak’s headliner tourism attraction, the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) has proven that it is more than just a music festival if this year’s sell-out crowd is anything to go by. A capacity crowd of 23,650 from all parts of the world attended the three-day festival.

rainforest world music festival (rwmf) 2019 finale

RWMF performers, musicians with volunteers cheering on the stage during the final night of RWMF 2019 held at the Sarawak Cultural Village.

This year’s nightly concert was artfully arranged in a seamless and flawless sequence. The 2019 line up featured 30 bands and over 200 performers. From the Chilean island of Rapa Nui in the South Eastern Pacific Ocean, Ballet Folcloric De Chile Bafochi showcased their spectacular costumes and sensual dance moves. From the South West Pacific Ocean, Wai from New Zealand gave mesmerizing performances at the Theatre Stage and at the mini sessions throughout the three-day festival.

Five Sarawakian bands, more than any of the years before, were featured this year. At Adau brought their legions of fans who danced along with their vibrant performance, fusing ancient melodies and rhythms of different tribes. Kemada featured traditional Iban music, games and culture while Suku Menoa presented Iban music, rituals and chants. Staak Bisomu provided a glimpse of the Bidayuh cultural heritage and Suk Binie’s performance was an energetic mix of traditional melodies from various ethnic communities of Sarawak. Darmas, from Malaysia, comprising of six young musicians got the crowd dancing to the rhythms of traditional Malay classics.

While the evening concerts draw in the crowd year in and out, this year saw an increase in audience for the afternoon interactive and education workshops. The same goes to the jamming sessions and mini concerts. There were more than 30 mini sessions held at the Iban longhouse, Bidayuh Terraces and Dewan Lagenda. These traditionally designed venues added to the diverse mix of musicians, to create a unique experience of jam sessions for the audience.

rwmf workshop

The diversity of culture and the instruments created at a rwmf workshop is a crowd favourite.

The Emerging Band Stage this year featured nine local bands over the course of the 3-day festival. Their performances were well-received by both local and foreign fesitval goers. Side activities held during the day. The RWMF partners include Friends of Sarawak Museum, Rainforest World Crafts Bazaar and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre.

What About Kuching (WAK) @ RWMF made their debut this year as artists, artisans, poets, sports trainers, and filmmakers from the Kuching community liven up the atmosphere at Damai Central. This multi-purpose recreational complex is located right next to the Sarawak Cultural Village. Certainly, the Sunset Stage was a big draw with a multitude of local bands entertaining the festival goers.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) intensified their greening initiatives this year. The biggest impact among these iniatives was from discouraging the use of plastic bottled water. An estimated twenty thousand plastic bottles were saved from the rubbish tip. Festival goers brought their own empty bottles which they could fill from water dispensing stations supplied by Cuckoo. For its waste management strategy, STB worked with Trienekens (waste management authority) and partnered with Spativate (a social enterprise) in coming up with eye-catching designs on waste bins. Biji-Biji, an social enterprise, was on hand to make sure waste was collected for composting. STB also continued the tradition of tree planting and this time, the site was at Pantai Puteri, Santubong Village.

cuckoo water refill station rwmf 2019

One of the many water refill stations dotted around festival ground.

rwmf urbins by spativate

Specially designed garbage bins to encourage proper disposal of litter.Twenty two years ago, the RWMF began as a very small gathering of 300 people. Fast forward to 2019, the festival has gained worldwide recognition and won multiple awards. For the three days at least it was a little too easy to forget that there’s a world outside the festival site.

Next year’s edition of the RWMF will be held from July 10 to 12, 2020.

STB is a winner of the Asia Pacific Excellence Awards 2016 by Asia-Pacific Association of Communications Directors (APACD) and has received the ASEAN PR Excellence Award 2015 Gold Award. The Rainforest World Music Festival is a five-time Top 25 Best International Festivals recognised by Songlines World Music Magazine (2011 – 2015) and won the Golden City Gate 2019 five-star award for the Rainforest World Music Festival’s (RWMF) promotional video.

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Categories
Cuisine in Melaka

WHAT TREE DID PARAMESWARA SEE WHILE RESTING BESIDES THE RIVER

Saturday November 5, 2011

What tree did Parameswara really see in Malacca?
INTERACTIONS
By FRANCIS NG

IT is taken as a historical fact that Malacca was founded by Parameswara, who named it after the melaka tree. Parameswara, in the legendary account of the founding of Malacca, actually had no idea what the tree was.

He had seen a mouse deer kick one of his hunting dogs and, inspired by the fighting spirit of the mouse deer, he asked his followers “What is the name of the tree under which I am standing?” His followers replied “It is called melaka, your Highness”. Nobody said “Wait, let us check this out.”

I would like to present evidence that Parameswara was wrongly advised. Before anybody questions whether I am qualified to change history, let me explain that my comments are based on botany, and I am, after all, a qualified taxonomic botanist, one who deals with the naming and classification of plants.

The melaka tree, known in Sanskrit as amalaka’, has an ancient and venerable history in Sanskrit culture and medicine.

What’s in a name? Phyllanthus pectinatus is native to Malacca but is often mistaken for Phyllanthus emblica from which Malacca is believed to have gotten its name.
When the Swedish founder of modern plant classification, Carolus Linnaeus, gave this tree its scientific name in 1753, he Latinised amalaka’ to emblica’ and placed it within the genus Phyllanthus. Hence the melaka tree became known in science as Phyllanthus emblica. Phyllanthus emblica is now planted all over Malacca as the state’s iconic foundation tree.

However, what Parameswara saw must have been another species, Phyllanthus pectinatus, which has a superficial resemblance to Phyllanthus emblica.

Phyllanthus pectinatus was first described and named by Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1890, based on specimens collected in Perak, Malacca and Singapore.

I first became aware of the possible mis-identification when I planted melaka’ trees in FRIM (Forest Research Institute Malaysia), some from seeds collected in a forest, and some from seeds collected from a garden.

When the trees grew and produced flowers and fruits I found that they represented two utterly different species. These differences are obvious when specimens of the two species are placed side by side for comparison.

In Phyllanthus emblica, the fruits are clustered at the base of rather robust leafy shoots whereas in Phyllanthus pectinatus they sway in the wind at the ends of the finely feathery leafy shoots.

Inside the fruit is a hard stony structure containing the seeds. This stony structure is sharply 3-angled in Phyllanthus pectinatus but rounded in Phyllanthus emblica. There are also differences in flower structure and in the appearance of the bark.

In trying to figure out the relationship between the two species, I checked the specimens of melaka’ preserved at the herbarium of FRIM.

A herbarium is a place in which specimens collected by plant explorers are permanently preserved for scientific study and reference.

The FRIM herbarium serves as the national herbarium for Malaysia and it has specimens from all over the country, collected by botanists and foresters during the past 100 years of forest exploration. All the specimens of melaka’ in FRIM were of Phyllanthus pectinatus.

When I had the opportunity to visit the world herbarium at Kew, I examined the collections from all over Asia, including the specimens seen by Joseph Dalton Hooker. I also went to the Botanic Gardens Singapore to check the specimens in its herbarium.

Putting all the information together, the picture that emerged was that Phyllanthus emblica has its natural range across India, Burma, Thailand, Indo-china and South China.

In contrast, Phyllanthus pectinatus has its natural range within the Malay Archipelago, especially in Sumatra, Malay Peninsula and Borneo. In their natural state, there is no geographical overlap between the two species.

In brief, Phyllanthus pectinatus is a true forest tree of the Malay Archipelago and it is particularly common in the forests of Malacca state.

In contrast, Phyllanthus emblica occurs only as a planted garden tree in the Malay Peninsula and the rest of the Malay Archipelago. It has never been able to escape and establish itself in our forests.

The best place to see Phyllanthus pectinatus is in the recreational forest of Ayer Keroh just outside the city. This area is now being redesignated as a botanical garden, but its core area is maintained as natural forest.

In this forest, there are many natural trees of Phyllanthus pectinatus, prominently mislabelled as Phyllanthus emblica. Just outside the forest, the true Phyllanthus emblica has been planted prominently in various locations for visitors to see.

Nobody has noticed that the native trees in the forest are a different species from the planted trees outside. What Malacca needs is a botanist, ideally a taxonomist cum horticulturist, to manage its botanical garden.

Malacca may have to accept that it has two iconic foundation trees: the tree that Parameswara saw and misidentified, and the tree it got mistaken for.

To me, the native tree is the more attractive of the two.

? Botanist and researcher Francis Ng is the former deputy director-general of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia. He is now the botanical consultant to Bandar Utama City Centre Sdn Bhd and the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre. ([email protected])

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