I think it’s safe to say that Malaysia is a country quite unlike any other in the world. Where else can you find a nation that has three immensely different cultures so intertwined together that it simply wouldn’t be the same if one were to disappear? When we celebrated our independence almost 60 years ago, we as a people were united; it didn’t quite matter that we had our own cultures, ethnicities and languages, at the end of the day we were all Malaysian.
These days however, if you’ve been following the news or social media portals, it would seem that we couldn’t be further from what our forefathers envisioned for the country. With headlines like Apa Lagi Cina Mahu? on mainstream newspapers and rallies conducted in ‘red shirts’ it would seem like we need the spirit of patriotism, of racial unity now more than ever.
By coincidence or providence, it feels like the perfect time for Petronas to launch their #tanahairku: Two Decades of Bringing Malaysians Together exhibition, one that celebrates unity in diversity. Launched in conjunction with Petronas’ 20th anniversary, the exhibition focuses on bringing back two decades of their festive commercials in order to rekindle a sense of nostalgia among Malaysians from all walks of life. Held at Galeri Petronas, KLCC they are featuring a selection of 21 iconic and memorable commercials including those that were produced by the late Yasmin Ahmad like Tan Hong Ming, Karate, Race and Kawan Baik that are guaranteed to pull at your heartstrings. For copyright reasons we won’t be able to post up the videos here but who’s to say you can’t find them by doing a quick Google search, just saying.
Recreating the schoolyard feel of Yasmin Ahmad’s ad Tan Hong Ming
Cleverly designed sets and props from the commercials are strewn throughout the gallery, absorbing you into the zeitgeist of when the ads were created whether it’s the first television commercial for National Day and Deepavali from 1996 or the Hari Raya advertisement for 2006, you’ll definitely leave the gallery with a sense of pride for dear old Malaysia. Brimming with national patriotism the #tanahairku campaign was inspired by the late national laureate Dato’ Dr. Usman Awang’s poem Tanahair which pretty much triggers the same sort of emotions that the exhibition is trying to achieve.
Running until 2February, admission is free so there is no reason why you shouldn’t drop by to remind yourself what the spiritual concept of a united Malaysia is all about.