Carrying tradition into the future
ON THIS day 54 years ago, the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo (now Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore came together to form Malaysia. It was more than just the merging of four entities as it also was a melting pot of cultures that further enhanced an already culturally diverse country.
After Singapore went its own way in 1965, Sabah, Sarawak and peninsular Malaysia continued moving forward, making great strides economically until today, where we stand at the cusp of developed nation status.
It is great to know that our cultural heritage has been — to a large extent — preserved alongside the country’s economic progress.
But undeniably, some practices have fallen through the cracks, so concerted efforts must be made to preserve important customs and traditional arts for the future.
Whether it bean ancient dance form, a unique traditional dish or a long-forgotten cultural rite, there are people who still remember and who are trying to bring these practices into the present, celebrating and embracing them while trying to maintain their relevance.
These hidden gems of our cul- tural heritage should not be allowed to stagnate or be forgotten. Instead, we must use it to our advantage and promote it as our gift to the world.
Certain traditional fabrics, such as songket and Sarawak’s pua kumbu, have already bridged the divide, being preserved not only as heritage but are also being marketed to an increasingly appreciative audience globally.
As our economy diversifies, the services sector has become increasingly important and tourism is a big draw, with arrivals expected to continue to grow. This is one avenue where Malaysia’s cultural heritage can help, as it provides an added attraction to visitors.
Beyond the economic benefits, keeping Malaysia’s cultural roots alive also means we maintain our status as a melting pot of cultures and races, where our unity is celebrated in diversity.
Remembering and sharing our roots do not make us any less Malaysian. Instead, doing so gives us a shared understanding and respect for each other so that we may continue to grow as a country.
Happy Malaysia Day to all readers of The Star!