On 17 April 2012, The Star share a story about priceless Iban antiques can be found at Quangdong Museum in China. Sarawak Philatelic and Numismatic Society (SPNS) Chairman, John Goh claimed that between 2005 and 2010, curators of museums in China came to Sarawak several times to look for Iban Antiques. They came on social visit passes, traveling to Kapit, Belaga and Kanowit. The Ibans from some of the longhouses in Kanowit told Goh that Tourist from China came to their place and buy Iban Antique. Many people already knew that most of the accessories worn by the Iban (Lampit, Sementing Ringgit & Sementing Buchai) are Silver coins from Straits Settlements, Japanese and also from China. The Chinese paid between RM60 to RM70 a piece of silver coin to the seller. They will detach the coins from the lampit and they will repaired them if it were damaged.
Picture by The Star-Iban Sarawak Kumang accesories
In the same feature story in The Star, there is a column with a title "Permit neeeded to bring antiques out of Sarawak". A spokesman for Sarawak Museum said any antique items which were to be taken out of the state needed to have an export permit from the museum. He said, the permit facilitates declaration at the airport. Without the permit, customs at the airport in the country of destination would detain the items. If they are contemporary items, no permit is needed. The spokesman said in the case of antique from Iban longhouses, the Museum would not issue any permit if they were genuine items.
I had been traveling to Kuching few times and most of the time when I am traveling, antique shop is a must visit for me. The price of antiques are not cheap in Kuching but some are unique since you cannot find it else where. Sarawak Museum keep on saying to people that if you want to export antique, you need to get special permit but when I visit Kuching, almost all shopkeeper said that they can arrange that. In 2009, one shop even show me an empty letter with letterhead of Sarawak Museum to gain my confidence. Sarawak Museum should put online How people can get the Antique Export Permit, procedure and requirements for the permit, and also fee and relevant charges to obtain the permit. Instead of a "spokesman" replying the story by The Star about Iban Antique coming out of Sarawak without any action by the Sarawak Museum, The Museum Director himself should reply and share with us how many cases of "Customs from other country of destination" detain Sarawak Antique at their airport.
I had seen birds, Tokay Gecko, Antique Vase, Ivory craft and many other thing has been bring out from this country before. I don't think bring out Iban antique will be a problem since you can just declare it as an accessories or just claim it to be fake since Sarawak Museum said no permit needed for fake item. I don't think any customs officer at any entry point in Sarawak can detect if the coins are real or antique. I even saw some counterfeit coins in Sarawak Museum before. If I want to get an expensive/rare Iban Antiques, why do I need to get a permit from the Museum when they're so many loopholes in Malaysia airport? Sarawak Museum and all Museum in Malaysia should start to take action now. Educate people how important it is to keep National Treasure, our next generation most probably will not see them in the future. Especially if all of them already sold to foreigner.