Monday, June 04, 2007

Malaysia Now 2007 Festival offers Fresh look at Malaysia

The month-long Malaysia Now 2007 Festival will provide Britons with a fascinating insight into Malaysia’s vibrant and exciting cultures.

Truly Asia: The festival aims at promoting Malaysia’s contemporary culture and rich heritage.
BRITONS will catch a glimpse of another aspect of Malaysian culture during the Malaysia Now 2007 Festival which kicks off this month.

The month-long event showcasing a selection of themes representing Malaysia’s contemporary culture is aimed at offering a fresh look at the country and its people.

Presented by Asia House, the festival is one of the biggest held in Britain in conjunction with Malaysia’s 50 years of nationhood and Visit Malaysia 2007.

Programme co-ordinator Aurelie Bocquillon ( said the carnival would provide a fascinating insight into Malaysia’s vibrant and exciting cultures.

She noted that the British public’s perception of the country seemed to be one taken from glossy tourism brochures stuck in the realm of exotic beaches and colonial architecture.

“Malaysia offers much more than that in terms of its contemporary culture and rich heritage,” she said.

Bocquillon said they wanted to promote the other aspects of Malaysia such as its multi-ethnic cuisine, film industry, the arts, comedy and cartoons.

“Malaysian personalities such as Chef Wan, Jit Murad, Bernard Chauly and Lat will present to the British people the diverse cultures of a modern and vibrant nation,” she added.

Malaysian films

The festival will start off on Thursday with Chef Wan taking Britons on a culinary journey of Malaysian food, outlining its rich history and evolution.

Among others, the Culinary Ambassador of Asia will explore the significance and holistic use of ulam (culinary herbs), jamu (medicinal herbs) and rempah (spices) during his presentation at Asia House.

On June 12, Chauly – one of Malaysia’s hottest movie directors – is scheduled to deliver a talk on Malaysian cinema, tracing its history to the present day through 10 film makers.

Fashion buffs will not miss out on the action too; they will be dazzled by the latest creations of top designer Tom Abang Saufi who will present a luncheon fashion show at London’s premier Malaysian restaurant, Awana, on June 19.

There will also be a play reading of Atomic Jaya by Huzir Sulaiman on June 27, which takes pot shots at a broad range of targets in Malaysian society and the international community.

Celebrated stand-up comedian Jit Murad is set to bring his wickedly funny sense of humour to London for the first time in a show featuring excerpts from his latest production, Full of Jit, on June 28.

And of course, there’s Datuk Lat who will discuss his life and work in an illustrated talk “My Life as a Cartoonist,” also on June 28.

Movie fans are also in for a treat as the best of Malaysian films will be screened during the Malaysia Week in Covent Garden between June 6 and 10.

Among the films to be showcased are Cinta, Bilut, Waris Jadi Hantu, The Red Kebaya, Puaka Tebing Biru, Jangan Pandang Belakang and Cicak Man.

“We chose the films based on the core message they will convey to the British audience,” said Mohd Fadzli Abd Aziz, assistant director of public relations of the National Film Development Council.

The choice of films was designed to showcase Malaysian culture and history as well as reflect on life and humanity in a way that international audiences can connect with.

Charity bazaar

The five-day Malaysia Week will present colourful aspects of Malaysian heritage including multi-cultural performances, craft-making demonstrations and fashion shows featuring batik and songket textile.

Malaysian handicraft such as silver, pewter, ceramics, crystals, woodcrafts and pearls will be on sale, along with stalls promoting Malaysian food.

Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim and the Lord Mayor of Westminster Carolyn Keen are scheduled to launch the event at Covent Garden’s piazza on June 6.

The flurry of Malaysian activities has even spread to France, with a Malaysian charity bazaar held in Paris to raise funds for charitable bodies in both countries.

Organised by the Malaysian Ladies Association (Perwakilan) Paris and the Malaysian embassy in France, the bazaar provided an ideal opportunity to promote Malaysian cuisine and handicrafts to the French and international communities.

Malaysians from all walks of life joined their French counterparts in savouring delicacies such as nasi lemak, satay, roti canai, teh tarik and home-baked kuih.

The dishes were prepared by Perwakilan members led by its president Datin Dr Saradha Iyer, who is wife of Malaysian ambassador Datuk S. Thanarajasingam.

She also compiled recipes of the dishes sold at the bazaar into a CD and hard copy, in French and English versions, to be sold for charity.

The bazaar was a huge success, attracting more than 500 people including French government officials, members of the French and international women associations and even a Malaysian parliamentary delegation led by Deputy Speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng.

It is heartening that such high-profile events have received overwhelming support from all parties as they can help to promote Malaysia’s image and enhance people-to-people contacts.

Source : STAR
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