Kuchingites get to experience a taste of Indonesia from home

By Jude Toyat

Spectacular dance performance by Medan dance troupe.

Spectacular dance performance by Medan dance troupe.

KUCHING: The Consulate General of The Republic of Indonesia in Kuching in collaboration with the Government of Medan City of North Sumatera, Indonesia organised the Indonesia Experience Week here recently.

Held at CityOne Megamall, the event aimed to promote Indonesian quality products as well as to enhance good relationship between the people of Sarawak and the people of Medan, North Sumatera in Indonesia.

Among the exhibitors who participated in the event include Marina Syafia, Anna Sianturi, Apheng Susanto and Lita Zulkarnain.

Marina Syafia

Marina Syafia

“I became interested to take part in this exhibition as I believed that the market here in Sarawak for quality Indonesian products is very encouraging and promising,” said 42-year-old Marina looking back at the response received from the first Indonesian Festival Products Expo here in July which her friend told her was ‘extremely positive’.

Although Marina, an entrepreneur for handmade ethnic products from Medan, only made her trip to Sarawak once for the exhibition, she was acceptance of people in the state.

“The interest among people in Sarawak towards Indonesian products are remarkable. Thus, this exhibition really helps in enabling me to widen my market,” she added.

Marina’s products include fashion handicrafts that are made of ethnic fabrics and leather from Medan. Apart from handmade ethnic items, she said that Medan is also famous for its culinary products including the Luwak Coffee.

“Medan is well known for food tourism. Apart from that, the fourth largest city in Indonesia of incredible diversity of ethnicities and cultures also has many captivating tourist attractions including Lake Toba where we grow our famous highland coffee or better known as Kopi Luwak.

“I hope that in future, such collaboration with Sarawak can be continued and allow us to promote our tourism products at a higher level for years to come,” she added.

Anna Sianturi

Anna Sianturi

Coffee producer Anna Sianturi said the programme enabled her to promote her coffee to a wider market.

“This exhibition is extraordinarily good as it helps to foster better cooperation between Indonesia and Sarawak.

“The reception of locals here towards our coffee is amazing and we discovered that there are also many fans of Kopi Luwak and other products from Medan and North Sumatra here in Sarawak,” she said.

The fact that it is being grown at high altitude such as Bukit Barisan mountainous areas near Danau Toba with an ideal height to grow coffee grows made Kopi Luwak special, she revealed.

“Kopi Luwak refers to the coffee that includes part-digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. Fortunately for us humans, civets cannot digest the seeds after being eaten and when it defecate the seeds thrown out are almost completely intact. From there, the civet trackers will collect the dirt, separate the seed from the dirt, wash it and dry.

“Although Kopi Luwak is a form of processing rather than a variety of coffee, it has been called one of the most expensive coffees in the world,” explained Anna.

Anna had participated in many coffee shows and exhibitions before, and regarded the exhibition held here as one of the best.

“Looking at the extraordinary support of the local community here, I second the motion of Medan Tourism Department head Hasan Basri to organise a coffee festival here in the near future to boost promotional efforts for coffees from Medan to around the world and I will be glad if I am to be given the chance to participate and visit Sarawak again,” she added.

Apheng Susanto

Apheng Susanto

Meanwhile, for admirable painter Apheng Susanto, such exhibition have made it easier for him to introduce his creative products and find buyers in Sarawak.

“Despite this being my first time in Sarawak, I came to realise that the state is great in developing small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” said Apheng who has just been working on his business for a year and owns an art shop in Medan selling products made out of coconut coir and palm fiber.

Lita Zulkarnain

Lita Zulkarnain

Lita Zulkarnain, 49, an entrepreneur of Medan textiles, such exhibition gave her an opportunities to introduce her crafts overseas including Sarawak.

“It opens up spaces for me to not only focus my crafts among the locals in Indonesia but also to widen it to market abroad,” said Lita.

Lita who sells songket and batik fabrics which have gathered a lot of attention from visitors in Medan also introduced embroidered apparels, handbags and wallets at the festival. She integrated Medan’s Malay traditional design elements into all her products.

“The selling prices for products on sale here are similar to those which we offer in Medan.

“It is hoped that the cooperation between the Medan city and Indonesia in general with Sarawak will allow us to exchange SMEs products that are available in Medan to Sarawak. Hopefully through events like this we can further increase our productions of SMEs goods and grow our market thus improve our living standards,” she added.

Jahar (second right) presenting a token of appreciation to Rita (second left) witnessed by Hasan (left) and Long.

Jahar (second right) presenting a token of appreciation to Rita (second left) witnessed by Hasan (left) and Long.

During the three-day programme, from Nov 3 to 6, craft enthusiasts feasted their eyes on a wide range of products produced by the SMEs of North Sumatra Province and also participate in exciting activities such as culinary demonstration by chefs from Medan who showed them how to cook special dishes and cakes originated from North Sumatra Province.

The visitors were also mesmerised with the dance performances by professional traditional dance troupe from Medan, North Sumatra.

The Government of Medan City also took the opportunity to promote their famous tourism destinations in North Sumatra including Toba Lake and Samosir Island at their exhibition booth, to meet the hope of the Indonesian government to develop North Sumatra as one of the 10 Emerging Tourist Destination in Indonesia.

The Indonesia Experience Week supported by the government of Medan City and sponsored by Citadines Uplands Kuching and Pine Garden Hotel was officiated by Indonesia’s Consul-General in Kuching Jahar Gultom.

Guests of honor (from left) Long, Jahar and Rita cutting the ribbon to officiate the Indonesia Experience Week at CityOne Megamall.

Guests of honor (from left) Long, Jahar and Rita cutting the ribbon to officiate the Indonesia Experience Week at CityOne Megamall.

Jahar said that the Indonesian government has been putting great focus on sectors of creative industries and SMEs as they are the backbone of the Indonesia economy.

In the economic trade sector, trade volume between Indonesia and Sarawak have shown an upward trend. In 2014, the export volume from Indonesia to Sarawak increased by 38.7% from the value of RM671,628,000 to RRM931,598,000.

As in 2015, total trade increased significantly and amounted to RM1,491 billion with product imports from Indonesia to Sarawak amounted to RM928 million and product exports from Sarawak to Indonesia amounted to RM563 million.

In the tourism sector, based on the statistics of tourist arrivals to Sarawak from the Ministry of Tourism Sarawak, in 2014, the number of foreign tourists to the state was 4.1 million while in 2015 it was 4.2 million people. Of that amount, Indonesian tourists visited Sarawak in 2014 were 464,661 people and in 2015 amounted to 505,002 people.

Long looking excited about a handcrafted fashion item by Marina (left).

Long looking excited about a handcrafted fashion item by Marina (left).

Vice versa, the number of tourists from Sarawak to Indonesia also increased from 31,021 in 2014 to 35,110 people in 2015.

“This suggested that the bilateral relations between Sarawak and Indonesia are getting better and closely intertwined, including government-to-government (G2G), business-to-business (B2B) and people-to-people (P2P).

“Thus, it is hoped that through the Indonesia Experience Week 2016, we will be able to further strengthen the ties between Sarawak and Indonesia, creating a broader business relationships, networking and establishing cooperation by bringing businessmen of both regions closer and make Indonesian products more known in Sarawak,” said Jahar in his opening speech.

Also present were Medan mayor wife Rita Maharani, Medan Tourism Department head Hasan Basri, Brunei Consul-General Pengiran Krtini Tahir, and Kenbest Sdn Bhd managing director Stephen Long.

Coffee brewing demonstration.

Coffee brewing demonstration.

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