Monday, 25 July 2011
SARAWAK REGATTA .... TRACING IT'S ORIGIN
Sarawak Regatta has been a premier event with a distinct historical and cultural significant. It was held as early as before 1872 and was organized as an annual event taking place during the New Year. Sarawak Gazette had recorded in 1872, that the annual Regatta that year was held, on 29th February 1872 at the Sarawak River infront of the Astana. The European community in Sarawak and in the neighboring countries were invited to the Astana - for breakfast - before the race. Keen competition were also recorded for the Rajah Cup.
The boat 'Sri Matu' built and manned by the Melanaus, was reported as the winning boat. The Gazette records provided the indication that Regatta had been an important social event organized annually for social integration and goodwill for the people of Sarawak. Prominent Political figure, the late Tan Sri Datuk Amar Ong Kee Hui, recorded that Raja Charles Brooke used to send his yacht "Maimunah1 to outstation to bring in the various "Tuan Residents" to join in the social event.
The tradition of holding the annual Regatta in the Sarawak River continued through the Colonial period and into the post-Malaysia period. During these periods the Regatta was organized by Resident and District Office with funds from the Government while the rest of the fund was raised through public donations.
The day programme include races for traditional longboats, dragon boats and other activities, like the running of totolizers, climbing greasing poles, catching ducks and "pillow fights". Racing boats from outstations made it a grand affair and also a great occasion for families from outside the State Capital to visit Kuching town.