Photo shows the main entrance to the Niah Caves. — SFC photo

KUCHING (July 31): New discoveries have suggested that human pre-history has existed about 60,000 years ago in the Niah Caves, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said archaeological experts from a university in Australia and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) have looked at the archaeological significance at the Niah Caves.

“This is an important discovery for us to research on civilisation. Sarawak is rich in heritages and among them is the Niah settlement.

“Civilisation is part of the world and there are now discoveries that human settlement started in the Niah Caves around 60,000 years ago, exceeding the previous discoveries of 40,000 years,” he said at the launch of the national-level International Museum Day 2023 at the Borneo Cultures Museum here today.

Abang Johari said the research on the Niah Caves should go further in-depth so as to give mankind new knowledge and discoveries on civilisation.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank those who have done research on this.”

He said visitors to the museum in London would not miss a special corner that displays exhibits based on the research done by Alfred Russell Wallace in Sarawak and Nusantara.

He added that Wallace also co-discovered the theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin.

Abang Johari said the state government also emphasises the development of museums but its focus would be on translating exhibits and artifacts into musicals.

“Sarawak government wants to have a different emphasis. We exhibit history that you can study from artifacts and exhibits, and the next one we want to do is translate these into musicals so that people can better understand,” he said.

Towards this end, he said the state government had set aside RM200 million to upgrade the old State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex in Petra Jaya into a gallery for the promotion of heritage and cultures.

“That is where we want to have the state-of-the-art cultural performances, like the Royal Albert Hall in London with a good sound system and modern stage to have our performances.

“There is a lot more heritage we have in Sarawak which we can share with the world. We hope people can do further research into our heritage,” he added.

He felt that networking among the museums ought to be enhanced to pave way for more researches so as to enrich the community’s knowledge on civilisation and humanity.

Abang Johari thanked the federal government for choosing Sarawak as the host for this year’s national-level International Day Museum celebration.

“Coincidentally, we are celebrating our 60th anniversary of Sarawak Merdeka. Thank you very much for selecting Kuching. Musuem is an important institution or organisation in archaeological development.

“The past determines the present and the present determines the future,” he said.

He was pleased to note that the number of visitors recorded by the Borneo Cultures Museum had exceeded 700,000 since it was opened to public in March last year.

“This means that the future is there for us. We exhibit the past history that we want to share with visitors while at the same time enrich our culture and knowledge for us to determine the future,” he added.

Among those present were Tourism, Creative Industry Industry and Performing Arts Minister Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and National Unity Minister Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang.