Hari Warisan (Cultural Heritage Appreciation Day) is a new initiative by the Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF) to acknowledge and appreciate Malay cultural practitioners and activists in Singapore who create content and contribute to their cultural heritage. The inaugural event, graced by Madam Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore, comprised two segments (morning and afternoon), and those in attendance were MHF’s Cendekiawan Lestari Series (CLS) speakers, arts and cultural practitioners, academics and MHF board members.
Saturday, 13 November 2021 — The second segment of Hari Warisan is a panel discussion titled, “Navigating the New Normal for Malay Arts & Cultural Groups”. This panel discussion hopes to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from one generation to another, share best practices and learn from the experiences of practitioners and activists across art forms and disciplines. This sharing session was moderated by Liyana Nasyita Shukarman and was conducted in both Malay and English. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this segment was held in a hybrid format where on-site guests were joined by virtual audiences who tuned in via MHF’s Facebook live stream and for the first time, on MHF’s YouTube channel as well.
Liyana opened the session by sharing the speakers consisting of Dr. Muhd Noramin Mohd Farid and Mr. Muhammad Andi Mohammed Zulkepli with Ms. Aidil Alin Mosbit who joined the Q&A segment. Before proceeding with the sharing session, a video by Madam Rahayu Mahzam, MHF Advisor & Parliamentary Secretary, MCI & MOH, was shared as she was unable to join the on-site session.
Madam Rahayu shared that due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cultural and heritage sector dealt a major blow and the aftermath is still being felt today. Our cultural practitioners and creators (individuals, groups, or organisations) who are the lifeblood of the sector and custodians of our intangible cultural heritage have been hit hard. With the pandemic expected to last for 4-5 years, cultural practitioners and activists in the sector can brace themselves for uncertain times ahead. Hence, she hopes that through this session, the community can learn from one another from the different art forms and disciplines. In closing, Madam Rahayu thanked the speakers, moderator as well as the MHF team. This was then followed by Liyana inviting Dr. Muhd Noramin Mohd Farid, better known as Amin Farid (Soultari), a choreographer, arts educator and researcher with a PhD in Theatre, Drama and Dance studies at the prestigious Royal Holloway, University of London, to start the sharing session through his experiences.
Dr. Amin began his sharing, titled “Turning the Tide, Embracing Innovation, Collaboration and Discourse”. He shared that the art scene in Singapore has shown resilience and practiced creative problem solving when facing adversities due to the pandemic. He complimented how the traditional Malay scenes acted fast and adapted quickly, such as having a hybrid format.
Taking this as a reflection opportunity, Dr. Amin poses questions to himself such as “What have I taken for granted?” and “Why should we (Malay arts practitioners) keep going when the odds are against us?”. This allowed him to reflect on the sheer urgency of discourse within our community that we have taken for granted. Dr. Amin urged the community to acknowledge the criticality and activism with relation to our social conditions as interconnected human beings with nature and the value of our voices as empowered people that discourses can provide. He concluded with a piece of advice to cultural practitioners which is to learn and be aware of what we will be facing to ensure that it does not hinder us in the future.
Liyana then invited Mr. Muhammad Andi, a Malay Language educator also known as Cikgu Andi, to begin his sharing titled, “Yang Harus Dibangun dan Yang Harus Terbangun” (What Needs to be Developed and What Needs to be Woken Up). He brought up the topic of youths not being interested in Malay culture, heritage and language but he countered it by mentioning that it is how we introduce these concepts to them. Cikgu Andi mentioned that if we romanticise heritage, we will lose the youths’ attention, then it becomes an issue. Youths are ready to accept deeper concepts, not just as a celebration or appreciation, making references to Dr. Azhar Ibrahim’s 10th Wacana Warisan Series on “Countering Romanticism in Discourses on Malay Heritage” where heritage is a process to understand and engage with the present and not to be romanticised.
He also made references to Associate Professor Hadijah Rahmat’s compilation of essays where Cikgu Andi emphasised the need for a group of scholars and thinkers, experts in Malay culture to explain and help eradicate misunderstandings on Malay culture to the community including non-Malays. Here, he highlighted the importance of documentation as a record to allow future generations to continue to learn from those who have passed on. He ends by reminding and acknowledging that everyone is a heritage ambassador because it takes a village to document, engage in discourse and the philosophy of Malay arts and culture.
Liyana next invited the speakers as well as Keynote Speaker for the morning session, Ms. Aidil Alin Mosbit, to join the Q&A segment, addressing several questions posed via the Slido app. After which, she concluded by noting the key observation that the youths are still very much interested in Malay arts, culture and heritage. Hence, we should take advantage of that and take up this opportunity. She mentioned the most important thing to do now is to plan on how we can continue to engage the youths, not just through performances.
Liyana took the opportunity to thank Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF), National Heritage Board (NHB) and National Arts Council (NAC) for starting and providing these much-needed opportunities. Before officially ending Hari Warisan, she talked about the book launch of “Heritage, Culture and Society: Critical Voices of Young Malays”, a compilation of essays by young writers from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, including Liyana herself.
To read the programme highlights for the morning session of Hari Warisan, click here.
- Full video segment 1: Hari Warisan
- Full video segment 2: Navigating the New Normal for Malay Arts and Cultural Groups
- Madam Halimah Yacob’s opening speech
- Aidli Alin Mosbit’s keynote speech
- Hari Warisan Media Release
- BERITAmediacorp — MHF lancarkan “Hari Warisan”, hargai sumbangan karyawan seni tempatan by Syawal Yusoff — 13 November 2021
- BERITAmediacorp — Pelukis mapan Idris Mohamed Ali jadi penerima sulung Hadiah Warisan MHF by Syawal Yusoff — 13 November 2021
- CH 5 News Tonight — 13 November 2021
- CNA Singapore Tonight — 13 November 2021
- The Straits Times — Malay culture activists play essential role in Singapore’s social cohesion: President Halimah by Nadine Chua — 14 November 2021
- Berita Harian — Pengamal seni, budaya penjaga penting identiti by Natasha Mustafa — 14 November 2021
- Berita Harian — Usaha lebih lima dekad pelukis pertahan warisan seni Melayu diiktiraf by Natasha Mustafa — 14 November 2021
- Berita Harian — Tiga dilantik Teman Warisan by Natasha Mustafa — 14 November 2021
- Berita Harian — Pejuang Seni Teater by Natasha Mustafa — 18 November 2021
- Berita Harian — Mahu terus aktif di arena seni sambil dorong penggiat lain by Natasha Mustafa — 21 November 2021
- Mediacorp Warna 942 — Zon Warna Petang by Noreha Bajuri — 22 November 2021
- Berita Harian — Teman Warisan by Natasha Mustafa — 23 November 2021
- Berita Harian — Anak muda pejuang warisan by Natasha Mustafa — 23 November 2021