Celebrating nation’s unique diversity


Blessings for all: Dr Mahathir and Dr Wan Azizah holding the canvas showcasing Tamil, Chinese, and Jawi calligraphy wishing Happy Chinese New Year at the open house. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) promoted unity in diversity along with rekindling interest in ancient Chinese pictographs and dough dolls, during its Chinese New Year open house.

It invited a Chinese calligraphy master, a Jawi and khat expert, and an Indian artist to write Chinese New Year messages in various languages on a long canvas, to drive home the point that the meaning of the words remains unaltered despite the different strokes.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his deputy, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who attended the open house on Saturday, were invited to add the final touches onto the masterpiece showcasing the epitome of unity in diversity.

Also present were KLSCAH chairman Datuk Ong Seng Khek, Dr Mahathir’s wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok and Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong.

Oriental Art and Cultural Centre honorary director Chin Yuen Seam also took pleasure in penning “the return of spring” in ancient pictograph format onto the canvas designed to promote diverse writing systems.“Chinese New Year is traditionally associated with the coming of the blooming spring season, as it is celebrated after winter.

“I wanted to show how ‘coming’, ‘land’ and ‘sprout’ are written in ancient Chinese pictographs, that carries the meaning that the blooming spring season has returned to the land, ” said Chin.

She said the seal style ancient pictograph was created more than 3,000 years ago.

Chinese calligraphy master Cheah Thien Soong also used the pictograph to deliver the “Blessing for All” message.

“Not many people will understand what it means because this form of writing is very ancient. It was created between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago, ” he said after presenting his artwork to Dr Wan Azizah.Cheah also wrote “The Nation is Prosperous and the People are Strong and Powerful” in Chinese calligraphy, and presented it to Dr Mahathir.

Jawi and khat expert Moonir @ Munir Nazir was busy attending to requests from people of various races who wanted him to write their names in Jawi.

He showed that Jawi script could also be used to write English words.

“Even Arabs can’t understand when Malay words are written in Jawi.

“In the old days, before the Roman alphabet was introduced here, people wrote in Jawi, ” he said.

Artist A. Nimalesh said he was invited to write Chinese New Year wishes in Tamil script.

“It is a good idea to get people of all races to deliver the same message in different languages. It promotes a sense of togetherness, ” he said.Carmen Chan was delighted to show guests, especially young children, how to make dolls out of multi-coloured dough.

“Making dough dolls during the festive season was part of an ancient tradition.

“I am reviving an old tradition where children were kept entertained with the art of making dolls using dough made of flour, ” she said.

“This tradition went extinct about 200 years ago. I am trying to rekindle interest in the old tradition.”

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