Sarawak ministry mulls Tuak Festival to boost local culture, tourism

As part of its efforts to promote Sarawak culture, the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak is considering the idea of organising a “Tuak Festival.” The event, which may initially be held in Kuching, aims to showcase and promote tuak, a traditional rice wine of the Dayaks, and the culture of the state.

Deputy Minister Datuk Sebastian Ting expressed his enthusiasm for the festival, suggesting it could run for over a week and eventually include a tuak-making competition in every zone of Sarawak, covering the southern, northern, and central regions. Ting acknowledged that starting such an event would be challenging but remained optimistic about its success and sustainability, given the number of experienced tuak producers in Sarawak.

“The people who produce tuak are very experienced, and they should be able to organise a week-long festival,” said Ting. “Our ministry will certainly consider starting off a Tuak Festival. I believe people coming to Sarawak would like to also drink tuak. Now, tuak is very popular in Peninsular Malaysia, from what I gathered.”

Ting envisions the proposed festival, which could become an annual event, helping to make tuak a globally accepted drink. “Now, we start off with the festival. Then we move forward in the following years. Maybe 10 years down the line, the world would be our market,” he said.

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Currently, tuak is mainly produced and consumed during the Gawai season, and its production is considered a cottage industry product and a heritage passed down through generations. However, some individuals are venturing into manufacturing and selling it as a commercial product. The Tuak Festival could provide a platform for these producers to showcase their products and expand their market reach, both locally and internationally.

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Lee Shuyi

Lee is an expat writer living in Thailand. She specialises in Southeast Asian news for the Thaiger. When she's not writing, Lee enjoys immersing herself in Thai culture and learning Thai.

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