New reason to visit Kuching

Abdul Karim (centre) beats an electronic drum to officially launch WAK 2017. Looking on from left are Curtis, Ik Pahon, Donald and Marina. — Photo by Tan Song Wei

KUCHING: What About Kuching (WAK) 2017 is the new reason for visitors to book their tickets to Kuching in October – traditionally a slow month in our inbound tourism calendar – to come and meet the city folk doing what they do best.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg notes that it has been the spirit of collaboration that has truly marked this festival.

“It is presented by the Sarawak government, through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports, yet driven by the communities of Kuching. It has seen public-private cooperation with funding and support from private enterprises and various government agencies, facilitating the efforts of ordinary Kuching people.

“This festival is a unique model, created by the various communities of Kuching for the communities of Kuching. We are showcasing the best of our arts, culture, dance, music, history and lifestyles through the participation of individuals and groups from throughout the state who are bringing their talents, dedication and enthusiasm to serve the city that we all love,” the chief minister said.

In a speech read by Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Abang Johari also said the state government would collectively make sure that there would be many more as it inspires new content, contribution and cooperation for the future.

“Kuching is seeing a very exciting time of creative endeavour in so many fields from so many community groups. This is why it is the collaboration between the various communities in this festival that has perhaps been most exciting,” he said.

“I have been brought to understand that because of WAK 2017, musicians are meeting technicians, dancers are meeting videographers, artists are meeting writers, social media specialists and filmmakers are meeting martial artists in an explosion of new ideas and partnerships,” he said.

Abang Johari pointed out that Kuching is famous for being a city where everyone knows everyone else, but through this festival, many of the contributors have been making creative connections.

“Right here on the Kuching Waterfront, we see an exhibition of a series of photographs by Maridontreks paired with poetry from Wordsmiths of Kuching, a partnership that might not have been possible without this platform. This spirit of cooperation that is so Kuching can only grow with each passing year of the festival.”

The official launch was held on Saturday night at Kuching Waterfront, in front of the Sarawak Steamship Building.

Abdul Karim (seated, third right) – flanked by Ik Pahon on his left and Donald – and Curtis (seated, right) join representatives of various groups holding the events throughout WAK 2017 in a group photo. — Photo by Tan Song Wei

Witnessing the ceremony were Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad (CMSB) group managing director Dato Richard Curtis and WAK 2017 festival coordinators Donald and Marina Tan.

It has been an exciting year of festivals for Sarawak so far – from the well-established Rainforest World Music Festival and Miri Jazz Festival, even the Mooncake Festival at Carpenter Street – to relative newcomers such as the Rainforest Fringe Festival and now the Waterfront Jazz Festival.

With the homegrown WAK 2017 dominating October, visitors will see locals celebrating their connections and unity.

“This is the Kuching that we are sharing with our visitors. We have always been seen as a state with a rich and unique traditional culture and immense natural heritage, but with this festival and the many others, our visitors are also seeing how vibrant, creative and contemporary we are,” said Abang Johari, adding that all that remains now is for the public to go out and enjoy.

Kicking-off concurrently on the same weekend were a range of events including Indie Filmmakers Night at Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) hall; All About Crafts at Pullman Hotel Lobby; Calmness Yoga at Brooke’s Green, Waterfront; ‘Chasing Butterflies and Other Unknowns: The Work of AR Wallace’ at The Waterfront Hotel; The Sarawak Museum programme for WAK 2017; JOY – Photographs & Haiku, Junk art market at The Junk, and ‘Kamek Kitak Story Night Vol 2’ at Le Cafe Rouge.

A little further away from the city centre at Emart Batu Kawa is the city’s biggest pre-loved market Trunk Sale 6 – a haven for anyone scouting for bargains or treasures.

Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival 2017 already played two nights behind Grand Margherita Hotel, starting Sept 29 and concluding on Sept 30.

The full calendar of events in print form is being circulated and is also available online via

Find out more by visiting Facebook page, ‘Liking’ and ‘Sharing’ the many posts on social media, and using the hashtags #WAK2017 and #aboutkuching.

The heart of WAK 2017 will be along the Kuching Waterfront, radiating outwards from there to encompass the city centre and on both sides of the Sarawak River.

Performances, exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops, pop-up bazaars and markets, talks, film screenings, recitals and other events will be held at available public and private spaces such as the Waterfront Amphitheatre, The Esplanade, the many garden areas along the Kuching Waterfront as well as privately run lifestyle establishments such as The Old Courthouse, The Waterfront Hotel, The Junk, Barber, The Museum Café & Shop, The Granary, Sadau @ Singgahsana Lodge, Haus KCH and many others.

WAK 2017 is sponsored by CMSB, Pullman Hotel, Plaza Merdeka and The Spring Shopping Mall.

Supporters include Kuching Plywood, Sarawak Energy Bhd, The Granary Kitchen & Bar, The Marian, Samba, Happenings Magazine, Ipanema,, 360 Xpress, Rebel Studio, Hilton Kuching and the Embassy of Brazil Malaysia.

Festival partners are Uber, Kuching Waterfront, Grand Margherita Hotel and Riverside Majestic Hotel, Echo Sound and Light, LA, Pixel Studio, Solidcom Vision Sdn Bhd, Kaizen Quality Sdn Bhd, SEDC, Borneo Experiences by Singgahsana Lodge Adventures Sdn Bhd, JEE Photography, Orilia, Kuramae Services, KINO, and Old Courthouse by Food Journal Asia Sdn Bhd.

The official media is See Hua Group of newspapers comprising The Borneo Post, thesundaypost, Borneo Post Online, Utusan Borneo and See Hua Daily News.