Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim today called on all local universities to carry out research on Malay oral traditions and literature to uphold and preserve the status of national culture.
He said the 23 existing universities in the country should strive to document the Malay oral traditions as an effort to enrich the Malay language, besides preserving the value of the country’s literature.
Oral traditions like singing and story-telling, ‘dikir barat’, folklores such as Hikayat Malim Deman and Cik Siti Wan Kembang, ‘pantun’ and proverbs, which had been passed on from generation to generation must be documented, he said when opening the Kelantan Dikir Barat Festival yesterday.
The festival is the 16th out of 20 programmes implemented by the ministry, with cooperation from the Tourism Ministry, so far this year.
A total of 1,039 members from eight famous ‘dikir barat’ groups in Kelantan are participating in the festival.
Rais said Malay oral traditions were part of the national heritage and culture even though they appeared to be very subtle because they were not documented and were being passed on orally.
Historical places like old buildings and palaces, on the other hand, appeared to be more of significant heritage, he said.
“However, it is the language that has made us a nation today,” he said. The minister also called on all quarters, especially the local universities, to take the initiative to revive the oral traditions so that they would be emulated and become a source of reference for future generations.
At his media conference later, Rais said that right now, the ministry, through the National Arts Culture and Heritage Academy (Aswara), would collaborate with Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) to implement a special programme to study the country’s cultural heritage.
He said the special programme, which would begin in January next year, would involve, among others, swapping of lecturers in the research of cultural heritage and oral traditions.
Commenting on the festival, which is the first in its series in Kelantan, Rais said it showed the aspiration of the people in the state and in Malaysia as a whole to create a harmony cultural atmosphere in line with the 1Malaysia concept.
“I’m very proud because by taking this effort we will be able to revive the ancient values and oral traditions in the forms of musical games and choral speaking by the people of Kelantan,” he said.