Celebrating Malaysia Day on Bangkung Row.

TOMORROW is that pivotal day in the history of our country, for 50 years ago, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined Malaya and our beloved nation, Malaysia, was born. Of course, Singapore eventually departed and formed its very own republic in 1965 but the fact remains, our eastern brothers and sisters became part of this country and gained their rightful independence.

And it has been a tradition, for the last three years, for a certain row of restaurants tucked away in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur to commemorate Hari Malaysia (Malaysia Day) with street parties, cultural performances, forums, talks and exhibitions. Called Malaysiaku (My Malaysia), the one-of-a-kind celebration will be taking place for two days at the Bangkung Row of restaurants – Cove, Cava and Leonardo’s – starting today.

“Fifty years is an important milestone. It is perhaps a time for honest reflection of all that is good, bad and ugly in Malaysia,” said Malaysiaku founder, Edward Soo.

One of the main highlights of this year’s Malaysiaku – Celebrating 50 Years of Malaysia celebration is the The Other Malaysia: Alternative Realities pop up art exhibition. Curated by Rahel Joseph, the exhibition features artworks by some of the country’s most interesting contemporary artists such as Jalaini Abu Hassan, Zac Lee, Vincent Leong, Nadiah Bamadhaj and Yee I-Lann, who is from Sabah and will be happening from today to Oct 14.

Of her curatorial direction, Rahel said she looked at the commonality between the various artists and the central factor was their use of narrative as a story-telling device or means of expression.

“It seemed appropriate, therefore, on the 50th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia, that we looked to our artists for their unique insights into the complexities and contradictions of contemporary Malaysia and the world we live in,” she said in a recent email interview.

“Humour has often been the mode by which these artists address challenging subjects while through autobiography they convey their ‘realities’, their versions of the truth, without passing judgment.

“Never sacrificing aesthetic considerations, their work challenges us to think about ourselves, both as a nation and a people, in different and meaningful ways.”

One such work is by Sabah-born artist, Yee I-Lann, who Rahel said “has long been a vocal advocate for the recognition of Malaysia Day as the country’s National Day and Sabah and Sarawak’s position as signatory territories of the formation of Malaysia.”

Called the “Malaysia Day Commemorative Plates”, created in collaboration with Royal Selangor in 2010, the artwork by Yee I-Lann “pays tribute to the four signatory territories and its leaders that formed the country we know as Malaysia.”

The Other Malaysia: Alternative Realities exhibition will be happening at the Bangkung Row (Jalan Bangkung, Bukti Bandaraya, Kuala Lumpur) from today to Oct 14. Admission free. More details browse goo.gl/vdLyDA.