Govt told to ramp up efforts to ensure SOP compliance during Gawai

Gawai celebration – The Star Pic

By Emma Victoria

INSTEAD of limiting 10 people to the Gawai Dayak festival next week (June 1), it has been recommended that celebrations be limited to family members living in the same household only.

Sibu Kenyah Uma Baha Women’s Association chairman Umie Liau said if there are only five people living in the same household, then they are only allowed to celebrate among themselves.

Otherwise, she is worried that some might have their grandparents and parents, who might not be living with them, come over to their houses to join them for the celebration since they have not reached the limit of 10 people.

“As for those living in a longhouse, they should stay put in their own ‘bilik’ or room – do not visit anyone from the other ‘bilik’ by assuming that it is safe to do so since they have been living in the same longhouse. We need to sacrifice for the time being for the safety of everyone,” she said when contacted.

“By doing this, I believe the Covid-19 virus won’t easily spread to others because it is just confined to a specific household only.”

Umie said the elderly in her longhouse (Kenyah Uma Baha) are aware of the SOPs, such as wearing a mask, sanitising their hands or recording their names and temperatures before entering a premises.

However, some might not be aware of the latest SOPs, including for the Gawai Dayak celebrations, hence, they still need to have enforcement personnel to be stationed at the longhouses to ensure everyone adhered to the SOPs strictly.

She said there must be continuous effort to educate and raise awareness about Covid-19 and how to prevent its spread among the rural folks.

“I believe that people won’t simply go against the SOPs if they have clear knowledge and truly understand what Covid-19 virus is, how it spreads and the dangers it could pose.”

The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee had reported that Hari Raya gatherings at two places in Kuching contributed to the 663 new Covid-19 cases reported in Sarawak on Sunday (May 23). The two gatherings are among the four new clusters detected.

Umie, however disagreed with banning the annual Gawai Dayak festive celebration as it is the most important festival among the Dayak communities in Sarawak.

Apart from the SOPs, she said state authorities and other relevant agencies must ensure the enforcement, which could prevent the surge of Covid-19 cases.

Sarawak has allowed Gawai celebrations on May 31 and June 1, limited to 10 people from the same household while ‘ngabang’ or visiting and ‘balik kampung’ are banned.

The ‘miring’ ceremony is only allowed in areas under Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), and not for those under Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO). It must be held at a designated place or ‘ruai’ and is only limited to 10 people, including those in charge of the ‘miring’.

The Village Development and Security Committees (JKKKs) are required to monitor and ensure compliance with the SOPs at their respective villages or longhouses during the celebration.