When travellers visit Malaysia, it will be great if they are greeted by frontliners in the tourism industry wearing batik. Not just any batik, but specifically, Malaysian batik.

“Those in the tourism industry, such as tour guides, hotel personnel, restaurant staff and airline crew, are encouraged to wear Malaysian batik,” said Tourism, Arts and Culture deputy minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik at the Batik Rendezvous, an event held recently by the Malaysian Craft Council to unveil the #MalaysianInBatik movement.

Its aim is to spark love and pride in Malaysian batik wearing through education as well as awareness programmes. They hope to make wearing batik a part of our modern daily lifestyle.

The council also announced the appointment of Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar as the ambassador of the #MalaysianInBatik movement.

Leading by example

The government will lead this movement by example, with Thursdays at the Parliament designated as the day to wear Malaysian batik.

“TripAdvisor states that 43% of travellers who come to Malaysia look for cultural experiences. They come for local products. They don’t come to shop for international brand names, but if they want to shop, they usually look for local Malaysian products such as batik,” said Muhammad Bakhtiar, who proudly wore a batik tie with his formal suit at the event.

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The Batik Rendezvous event held at the National Textile Museum. Photo: The Star/Sam Tham

But the public also needs to know the difference between batik and other textiles, and Malaysian Craft Council president Nik Mohd Faiz Nik M. Amin explained that it lies in the way batik is made.

“Batik is more than just patterns and designs on material, although that is part of it. Batik making is actually a process; it is an art and it is our national and cultural heritage.”

He added that batik needs to be made accessible to all, especially today’s younger generation.

“Although machine-printed batik might not be considered actual batik, which is handpainted, it is a start to reach out to the younger generation because it is cheaper and more accessible,” he said.

Everyone to do their part

Nurul Izzah urged everyone to play their part in the batik revolution.

“One of the beautiful things about being a Malaysian is our culture and heritage. This is one of the key things that we have to preserve. It is not just about understanding and appreciating the different varieties and types of batik, knowing the names and describing the motifs.

“Batik Malaysia has existed for over 200 years. While it may seem minuscule compared to the batik of Indonesia, but as Malaysians, Batik Malaysia is ours, and we have to love, appreciate, preserve, and promote it.

“When we all wear Malaysian batik, it gives the message to the batik producers and the world that we are proud to wear batik. Everyone needs to join the #MalaysianInBatik revolution and be part of it,” she said.