Harmony sampan a celebration of Malaysia’s diversity

Meaningful feat: SJK(C) Yoke Nam pupils and (back row from left) Khong, PTA deputy chairman Darren Wong, Choo and Kong posing with the Malaysia Harmony Sampan. — CHAN TAK KONG/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Parents and pupils of SJK(C) Yoke Nam came up with a 5.5m Merdeka Harmony Sampan to celebrate the country’s independence and Malaysia Day.

The sampan was wrapped with batik and painted with the Jalur Gemilang.

The scene shows blooming hibiscus flowers, Rafflesia, a boy reaching out for a coconut from a tree, one girl reading a book and another one dancing.

Next to them were several Malayan tigers, orang utan, turtles and hornbills which were all handcrafted using recyclable materials by a group of parents and pupils.

The school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) chairman Kong Yik Khai said the Merdeka Harmony Sampan measured 5.5m in length, 1.5m in height and weighed about 15kg.

The colourful piece is on display below the school’s arch at its main entrance.

“The idea of creating a sampan came from a Chinese idiom, tong zhou gong ji, which literally means riding a boat together to cross the river.

“It is a metaphor for unity and mutual assistance, working together to overcome difficulties – something we feel that is very much needed now, especially with National Day and next week’s Malaysia Day celebration.

“We hope this small feat will inspire more people to appreciate and focus on our unique strength, which is unity in diversity,” he said in an interview at the school yesterday.

The project’s art director, Ming Khong, who is a parent, said a group of parents and their children spent many days after school and on Saturdays to get all the pieces done before putting them together.

From sourcing materials to designing, making and fine-tuning each piece, the process took time.

“We collected cardboards, mineral water bottles, bubble wrap and old newspapers, besides other materials like foam board, steel wires, paper and batter.

“For example, when making the hibiscus petal, we first used steel wire to get the shape before layering it with paper and batter,” she said.

Despite it being a tiring task, Khong said the parents and children enjoyed it.

“They told me that they got to learn a lot about art and also Malaysia and that they felt a sense of pride when seeing the finished product.

“It’s a great way to spread positivity and that’s what we wanted to do,” she said.

School headmistress Choo Siew Mee lauded their efforts.

“It’s good to get the pupils involved as many kids now are too absorbed with their smartphones,” she added.

She said the sampan would be lowered after the celebrations and displayed in the school.

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