A Night Steeped in Malaysia Heritage

Silat performance at Malaysia Tourism Art Culture Media Appreciation. Music Press Asia

A rediscovery of the home country

After a decade away, returning to Malaysia felt like a warm embrace. The familiar sights, sounds, and aromas sparked a surge of nostalgia, a potent reminder of the nation’s enduring charm.

With this sense of homecoming, I found myself at the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’s recent media appreciation gala.

Held under a fitting theme “Celebrating Heritage, Preserving History,” the event served as a timely introduction – a chance to rediscover Malaysia’s true beauty from the inside out.

The invitation from the ministry itself felt particularly apt, a promise to unveil the vibrant tapestry of Malaysian culture beyond the tourist facade.

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Hosted at the cavernous Grand Lagoon Ballroom of the Sunway Resort Hotel, the evening unfolded like a vibrant tapestry woven from the diverse threads of Malaysian culture.

Upon arrival, I was greeted by a charming tableau – a clutch of craft huts, meticulously crafted to resemble traditional Malay dwellings.

This pre-gala vignette offered attendees a chance to immerse themselves in the rich heritage, with the opportunity to don colourful, festive attire.

Lion dance at MOTAC Media Appreciation 2024. Music Press Asia
[Lion dance is a traditional Asian art form that originated in China and dates back 5000 years. Performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume to tell a story and bring good luck and fortune to the audience. Music Press Asia]

Over the course of the evening, both the Minister of Tourism, Art and Culture, Dato Sri Tiong King Sing, and his deputy, Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan, showed great social attitude. Mingling and attending to each table, they shook hands and speak encouragingly.

The deputy minister delivered a thoughtful address, highlighting the enduring importance of Malaysian culture and its captivating allure for the global audience.

Music Press Asia Book Club Recommends Heritage Tourism in Southeast Asia

Live Performances

A powerful Lion Dance erupted onto the side of the stage, a vibrant nod to the recently concluded Chinese Lunar New Year festivities. The round bases on which it stands on thin pillars were the only gravity that holds the feet.

The stage performances themselves proved equally captivating. Seni Putra Selangor, a renowned troupe dedicated to preserving traditional arts, enthralled the audience with their mesmerizing music and dance.

Later, the legendary songstress Dato’ Khatijah Ibrahim took centre stage, her voice a testament to the enduring legacy of Malaysian music.

Food at MOTAC Media Appreciation 2024. Music Press Asia
[Malaysia is a uniquely a food paradise. Malaysia’s delicacies remain a highlight served at MOTAC’s recent Media Appreciation evening. Music Press Asia]

Towards the end, a captivating display by a Bornean tribe transported us to the heart of Malaysia’s indigenous heritage, their movements and attire echoing the rich tapestry of the nation’s cultural landscape.

Another particularly delightful aspect of the evening involving all who attended was the lucky draws, rewarding members of the media with bountiful gifts including televisions, free trips, and even iPhones. A fitting acknowledgement, one might say, for those who tirelessly champion the dissemination of Malaysia’s diverse cultural tapestry.

Beyond the entertainment, the gala served as a platform to champion Malaysia’s unwavering commitment to cultural preservation.

Music Press Asia editor-in-chief Monica Tong (left) and Ramsom Koay (right).
[Music Press Asia editor-in-chief Monica Tong (left) and Ramsom Koay (right).]

We were delighted to learn of Silat, the traditional Malay martial art, being inscribed on the prestigious UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2019.

This recognition underscores the crucial role of safeguarding Malaysia’s unique cultural expressions. Additionally, the ancient Kelantanese theatre form of Mak Yong also finds itself on this esteemed list.

The spirit of unity was further underscored by the delectable spread of traditional Malaysian fare.

From fragrant Malay curries to delectable Chinese dumplings and the aromatic symphony of Indian spices, the dinner was a true testament to the nation’s rich multicultural tapestry.

Click here to order Heritage Tourism in Southeast Asia.

Dato Sri Tiong King Sing MOTAC Media Appreciation 2024. Music Press Asia
[Dato Sri Tiong King Sing – the minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture of Malaysia – tries a traditional headwear displayed at the event. Music Press Asia]

The food served includes a breakfast set as a promotion of heritage food listed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by the National Heritage Department (JWN).

YB Minister and YB Deputy Minister also personally presented a flower to the female guests present in conjunction with the celebration of International Women’s Day.

Leaving the gala that night, I carried a profound appreciation for Malaysia’s vibrant heritage. The event served as a beautiful exemplar of how celebrating the past paves the way for a future that is both inclusive and culturally rich.

Reference link: UNESCO, Malaysia.

The article above was initially published on 15 March 2024 and recently updated on 6 May.

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