MELAKA: A cultural centre is in the works to highlight the traditions and heritage of the Melaka Portuguese.
Two representatives from the Portugal government are on a long research stint at the Portuguese Settlement here to work towards debuting the centre, said Save the Portuguese Community action committee chairman Martin Theseira.
“We are hoping to set up the centre at the former Lim Kok Wing College where it will be a hub to promote and preserve our culture as well as to function as a focal point for art expansion.
“Once it’s ready, the centre will not only cover those in Melaka but also the needs of our counterparts in nearby countries,” he said.
Theseira said the community would soon receive two key officials from the Portuguese Embassy in Bangkok.
The visit, he said, was aimed at boosting ties with Portugal.
He said the representatives from Portugal would also be involved in a cultural mapping project.
“The mapping project is aimed at recording, preserving and revitalising the existence of the community, especially in this region,” he said.
On the local front, Theseira said the Second Asian Portuguese Community Conference will be held in Melaka on June 28 and 29 to further promote the close ties of the community from all over the globe.
As the only settlement in the country that was started in the 1930s by Jesuit missionaries – Rev Father A. M. Corado and Rev Father J. P. Francois – he said it was crucial for the community to preserve its culture.
Theseira noted that one of the most interesting facets of the culture is the local Portuguese Creole language. Many Bahasa Malaysia words were borrowed from the local Portuguese Creole language, he said, citing as examples kereta (car), almari (cupboard), hilir (edge) and meja (table).
Theseira said that cultural festivals of the community could be widely promoted once ties between the Portuguese Embassy in Bangkok and the settlement here had been fostered.
Festivals like the annual water-splashing event and the Feista San Pedro could be made global attractions with Portugal’s co-operation, he added.