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Chief Minister : research and preservation of language conference timely
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KOTA SAMARAHAN, 9 August 2017 : Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Amar Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg says the 2nd International Conference on Language Studies (ICLS) is a perfect opportunity to discuss various issues related to the research and preservation of language and cultures in Borneo and neighbouring regions.

Officiating at two day conference which was held in Kuching, Chief Minister said the conference is timely in various respects especially on a language documentation and conservation, local knowledge, literature and many more.

“Firstly, it takes place at a time and in a world that is undergoing rapid globalization and digitalisation-politically, economically, culturally and socially.

“Advances in technology have fuelled this process and the impact is felt in every aspect of life including the languages that we speak and the cultures that we upholds for many generations,“ he added.

He noted, therefore the conference will  provides a platform and an opportunity for participants to discuss openly and seriously issues that affect people, languages and cultures.

“It is time that community of researchers and practitioners, members and leaders of indigenous communities to collaborate with local and foreign institutions of higher learning and stakeholders, in preserving, conserving and revitalizing indigenous languages and cultural heritage for our generation.

“I personally believe that UNIMAS can take the lead in this critical initiative and a great start for UNIMAS to build capacity and strengthen partnership in creating a vibrant and sustainable future of languages and cultures in the state and beyond,” he said.

Meanwhile, UNIMAS Vice Chancellor, Professor Dato’ Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi said UNIMAS has always been at the forefront of preserving and conserving languages and cultures of Sarawak.

As example, he said, the university has partnered with the Sarawak State Government, various stakeholders and communities in developing and executing preservation and conservation projects.

“This is evident in the multi-award winning e-Bario Project – an initiative that was conceived as a research project to determine opportunities for social development available from the deployment of information and communication technologies within remote communities in Sarawak. This is in line with the state government’s aggressive adoption of ICTS for national development and the underdeveloped infrastructure and scattered population of Malaysia’s largest state, Sarawak.

“The latest initiative is the establishment of the Bario Community Museum, which seeks to rebrand e-Bario as a knowledge centre for the benefits of the local community and beyond.

“The preservation and conservation of languages and cultures of Sarawak is also evident through the recently established Faculty of Language and Communication (formerly known as Centre for Language Studies). The faculty is currently offering a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics where Iban, Bidayuh and Melanau languages are taught from the linguistics and communicative perspectives.” he added.

According to Vice Chancellor, the conference aims are also aligned with UNIMAS - Strategic Plan 2016-2020 that seeks to ensure "sustainability for diversed & dispersed communities" through four commitments: Excellence in education and training, Excellence in innovation and ecosystem, Global visibility and prominance, and Sustainable financial portfolio.

He believed UNIMAS can position itself as a regional point of reference in the fields of languages and cultures, and this conference can provide the avenue for researchers and practitioners to foster opportunities for multidisciplinary collaborations and build bridges of partnership in creating a vibrant and sustainable future for languages and cultures in the region.

The two-day International Conference on Language Studies 2017 (iCLS 2017) was organized by Faculty of Language and Communication (FLC), UNIMAS with theme ‘ Sustaining Languages and Cultures: Borneo and Beyond’.

iCLS 2017 had nineteen Parallel Sessions consuming of 85 lectures and 257 participants was aims to provide opportunity for researchers and practitioners to share research results and showcase their innovations, to establish multidisciplinary collaborations and to discuss various issues related to the research and preservation of languages and cultures in Borneo, Southeast Asia region and other neighbouring regions.

Article by: Sarena Haidir

Photo by: Azlandy M.A.T