Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Taib: Preserve ethnic traditional know-how

The Star Online
Published on: Wednesday July 8, 2009

KUCHING: Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud wants the traditional knowledge of the state’s nearly 30 ethnic groups to be preserved through the use of information and communication technology (ICT).

These ethnic groups tend to pass down their knowledge orally from one generation to the next through stories and songs, he said.

“There is much to be learnt from these communities; the knowledge they have on health, history and way of life,” he said when opening an international conference on information technology at the Kuching Hilton yesterday.

The text of his speech was read out by his deputy Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam.
Taib urged Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), which organised the four-day conference, and other research institutions to identify ways in which ICT could be used to preserve the traditional knowledge.

“There is a need, for example, to enhance speech recognition technologies to speed up the process of converting speech to text so that the text could be stored and analysed.”
He said machine translation software, which Unimas was researching on, should be developed for local languages.

The move, he added, would enable indigenous languages to be translated to English.
Taib commended Unimas for its successful e-Bario project, which brought IT access to villagers in the Kelabit Highlands of northern Sarawak.

“Unimas will be at the heart of the state’s multimedia super corridor activities, particularly looking at the incubation facilities for technology start-ups and in addressing the state’s human resource development needs.” said Taib.

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