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What say you?
Recently, the Malaysian government announced the re-implementation of MCO, which causes mixed feelings among the nation. As if that issue is not enough to create unwanted worries among us, Malaysian was hit with another news about a cultural inappropriate comment made by a talented Dutch designer, Lisette Scheers of Nala Designs. In an interview with South China Morning Post titled “How Malaysian Culture Inspires A Dutch Designers,” Scheers genuine remarks about baju kurung and the local culture have spurred negative comments among Malaysians. It is rather disappointing to see how an inspiring story about her journey as a designer in Malaysia, has under fire her.
My feature interview with Nala designs founder Lisette Scheers. https://t.co/EYBh1bmvkS— Thomas Bird Writer (@thejourneybird) January 15, 2021
“My dream is to see the baju kurung return, to see Malays dressing beautifully again. I want people to feel proud of their heritage. Growing up this country was full of beautiful fabrics and colours. I’m on a crusade to make sure that doesn’t disappear.” – Lisette Scheers
Yes, people do make mistakes and she apologized. But could it be that we have misinterpreted the message wrongly? If she had rephrased her words accordingly, would her statement still backfire her? I am honestly clueless.
Before I delve further into this issue, let us go back through time to the history of baju kurung. I found a great citation done by Azliza Aris about The Evolution and Transformation of Baju Kurung in the Peninsular of Malaysia. You should read it too! She quoted,
“Baju Kurung has existed over more than 600 years ago. It has been the pride and heritage of the Malay society since the Great Malaccan Sultanate in the 15th Century. Since then, Baju Kurung has gone through some changes, which include its length, cut and shape, fabrics, style and coordination. Baju Kurung name is well- known to Malaysian society especially to the Malay people.”
“Based on the development of the Baju Kurung it is believed that Baju Kurung will continue to inspire modern Malay garments in the future.”
So, the only question is now, do you truly believe that baju kurung and Malaysian culture have been forgotten? That we all need a reminder by a Dutch designer about something that we know deep inside that baju kurung is still very much relevant now as it was on the olden days? Yes? Hella no!
Tak lapuk dek hujan, tak lekang dek panas
A Malay proverb that is the answer to this controversial issue. Something that we can relate to, which means a culture that will not be changed and remains strong up to today.
Not to mention how many local designers like Nurita Harith, Fizi Woo, Afiq M, and others have been uplifting Malay traditional wear since the very beginning.
B-E-A-U-tiful! As someone who has always been a fan of Nala Designs, I can’t stress how disappointed I am towards this news. Here I have listed some comments made by famous personalities and concerned citizens converse the mutual feeling that I have in regards to the controversial issue.