What Rainforest?

Borneo Post… double take
July 18, 2008, 8:25 am
Filed under: Campaign, Indigenous People, Media Reports, Oil Palm

Festival organisers regret action of activists

KUCHING: The organising committee of the Rainforest World Music Festival 2008 Sunday expressed its regret over the action of a group of activists to pick on the event to highlight their causes.

The event, led by Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah from Selangor, held a demonstration at the entrance to RWMF at Sarawak Cultural Village last Sunday.

The co-organising chairman of the event Benedict Jimbau said RWMF was not the right venue for the activists to come and hold demonstrations.

“Rainforest Music Festival is a major tourism event for Sarawak, and a big attraction for the state’s tourism industry. What has this festival got to do with their (the activists) causes?” he asked when contacted on Sunday.

The activist held up small banners with the words “What Rainforest?” while others were holding candles as they made several remarks against oil palm plantations and the land policy of Sarawak.

Asked if the activist had ‘barked up the wrong tree’, Benedict said: “Well, if that is the way you put it, then I personally think that it is.”

On a positive note, he was happy that the demonstration did not have any impact on the carnival-like atmosphere on Sunday night.

Benedict, who is also Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) corporate affairs executive, said the immensely-popular RWMF is now one of the best know music festivals in the world and attract concert-goers from many countries.

He thanked the police for smooth handling of the demonstration as the activists were properly dispersed without resulting in any untoward incident.

The demonstration at SCV last Sunday, which was also the last night of the RWMF 2008, attracted a large crowd of curious onlookers mainly foreigners coming for the RWMF.

It is learnt that it was not the first time that the activists had tried to ‘use’ the RWMF to spread their message. However, it was the first time a demonstration was being held and also the first involving Sivarasa who is also Subang MP since he was elected MP in the March general elections. Many of the concert-goers also felt that the group of people was using the wrong platform to tell their message.

“This is the wrong time and the wrong place to do it. This festival actually helps the tourism industry. These people are just barking up the wrong tree,” said one journalists.


ps: What Rainforest? would like to clarify that YB Sivarasa Rasiah had no part in organizing the candlelight vigil. YB Siva was merely a festival goer supporting our cause who, as a human rights lawyer saw a need to intervene when the situation begin to turn ugly with the police. What Rainforest? would however like to extend our utmost thanks to YB Sivarasa for his timely legal intervention.

pps: It is confirmed, the organisers of the RWMF has made an official statement saying that the RWMF is strictly a tourism event. It is definitely not a platform to highlight the plight of the rainforest and indigenous people as it was originally intended to. Once again What Rainforest? would like to pose the question “What Rainforest?”


5 Comments so far
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It is unfortunate, and with deep regret to learn that the authority claimed RWMF to be purely tourism.

If so, why not shift the venue next year to somewhere in the midst of oil pam forest and change RWMF to OPWMF (Oil Palm World Music Festival). Tourist won’t mind coming because it is purely tourism, and rainforest is NOT an issue nor attraction.

Comment by Choo

Totally agree with Choo. With the targeted area of 1 mil ha for palm oil, i don’t think there will be any rainforest in sarawak. And yet the state government is organising an event to show that they respected the forest???? Doesn’t that the purpose of the RWMF?

Comment by gmi

You have brought shame on Sarawak…. We Sarawakians are proud of the RWMF, and how huge it has become if compared to other festivals in the peninsular. Why not you guys go back to your own slumps, and don’t bother about us in Sarawak. We don’t need you. Take care of your very own backyard, before interfering with others!!

Comment by canon

hey dumb and dumber(commenter 1 and 2),

first of all, its called rainforest music festival because its being held in a “RAINFOREST”. the main point being, not highlighting the plight of rainforests BUT THE FACT THAT IT IS A MUSIC FESTIVAL THAT IS BEING HELD IN ONE. get it??? not because they want to show people how to respect and help rainforests but simply to show them that you can have fun IN a forest nonetheless(and subconciously making people LOVE the rainforest). gosh, how much more stupid can your perceptions get. stop trying to find things to say abt sarawak and its abundance of rainforests and go do something about selangor for instance which is absolutely COVERED in oil palms. DO realise you have no right to criticize swk’s forests especially if you’re from peninsular malaysia.

and who said the rainforest is not an attraction for rwmf. Its beCAUSE the fest is being held in a rainforest that people are attending this thing. concerts and good music can be enjoyed anywhere but its even better when its in the forest where u get to appreciate the beauty of nature and music simultaneously. its like having a concert while camping instead of the usual singalong!! so as u can obviously see, the rainforest is a major attraction therefore making it a major issue for rwmf. if you cant, agn. D.U.M.B.

and gmi, what makes you think sarawak’s tourism board can do anything about the oil palm thing?? THEY’RE TOURISM FOR GOD’S SAKE and if anything i think theyre doing a huge favor by raising awareness about the beauty and importance of rainforests on not only a local plateau but international as well!! these ppl have tremendous fun at rwmf every year do you think they will let that be taken away?? i think rwmf is an effective and ultimately beficial (for both sides) way to make people care about the rainforest. nobody forgets a rainfest experience. ever.


Comment by frh

and no, i do not mean any offense to what rainforest. in fact, i strongly agree with them. i am just extremely disappointed in the misconceptions that your commenters have made and your misguided intentions at rwmf. there are other places that need your help more. focus on those please. i apologise if my strong words are taken wrongly but you must understand the frustration one feels when something they love immensely is falsely interpreted by ignorant others. thank you.

Comment by frh

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