Celebrating Malay language and culture at event

Children from PCF Sparkletots Preschool performing at Gerbang Bahasa held at Northbrooks Secondary School in Yishun last night.
Children from PCF Sparkletots Preschool performing at Gerbang Bahasa held at Northbrooks Secondary School in Yishun last night.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

There are few better ways to spend a night than enjoying good food and watching a show with neighbours.

And that was what more than 400 residents of Gambas constituency did last night at Northbrooks Secondary School in Yishun, where they gathered to celebrate Malay language and culture.

They watched a performance of wayang kulit, or shadow puppets, and sampled traditional Malay kueh at the event, Gerbang Bahasa, held as part of Bulan Bahasa, or Malay Language Month, now on until Oct 15.

The five-part performance, featuring personalities such as singers Sarah Aqilah and Iqa Taufik, was performed in a mix of Malay and English, so that both Malay- and non-Malay-speaking residents could enjoy it.

Gerbang Bahasa was organised by the Gambas Malay Activity Executive Committee (MAEC), and was the first time the organisation has taken part in Malay Language Month, held every year since 1998.

The guest of honour, Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, an MP for Sembawang GRC, said in Malay: "The theme for tonight, Gerbang Bahasa - Cinta Bahasa, Kenali Budaya, (Love the Language, Love the Cultures) is unique because it marries both language and culture seamlessly using a creative format that allows for audience interaction."

Gambas MAEC chairman Mohamad Saddiq said: "The event is important for both Malay and non-Malay residents. It promotes the use of Malay language in everyday life, and encourages Malays to be engaged in their own culture."

Residents of different races and age groups also performed in some of the items.

Attending the event with her family, Ms Diyan Batrisyia Suhaemi, 19, a student, said: "In schools, teachers talk to us about it (Malay culture and language), but seeing it in such an event allows me to actually connect with the language and culture.

"It's especially important now that the younger generation speaks more English than their mother tongue."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline 'Celebrating Malay language and culture at event'. Print Edition | Subscribe