Weaving village for ex-convicts

Tunku Azizah (right) checking the quality of the finished product of the Royal Tenun Pahang produced by the students at the institute in Pulau Keladi, Pekan. Looking on is National Handicraft senior director (Design and Research) Datuk Mohd Zubair Mohd Zain (left).

PEKAN: Ex-convicts who have been trained in making the Tenun Pahang Diraja during their jail term will be employed in the “tenun” village to be built in the Penor Prison.

Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar said their skills and creativity in the production of the woven silk fabric should not be wasted after serving their sentences in prison.

Tunku Azizah said she personally appreciated the ex-convicts’ handiworks, especially since the demand for the product was increasing.

She said the village, which would be built on 8ha of land, would have houses for them to stay with their families.

The ex-convicts would also be provided with a proper salary scheme and other perks, including contributions to the Employees Provident Fund and Socso.

“Their welfare will be taken care of by being our employees,” Tunku Azizah said after visiting the Tenun Pahang Diraja centre in Pulau Keladi here recently.

She added that the village would be under the administration of the Penor Prison but monitored by the Yayasan Tenun Diraja headed by her.

Tunku Azizah said the production of the fabric was currently at the Penor Prison, Bentong Prison, Sungai Soi Tenun Development Centre and also at the Pulau Keladi centre.

“The fabric cannot be produced with a machine to safeguard its quality and exclusiveness.

“If we make it in mass production, the quality of the Tenun Pahang Diraja products will drop.

“However, machines can still be used for simple products such as making souvenir items,” she said.

Tunku Azizah also said there is an institute to train skilled workers in producing the fabric.

“This institute is open to those who are interested regardless of their academic qualification.

“As long as they have the interest and passion, we will train them,” she said, adding that only 20 students would be enrolled for each intake of the four-semester course.

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