Art reflection of country's civilisation: Dr M

Kalbana Perimbanayagam

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the arts were an important element that determine the standard of a country's civilisation. He said no country could call themselves civilised without arts and culture, as they these should develop in tandem with the progress made in the economy and other sectors. It is for this reason that art remained an important element in nation-building which must be preserved, he said. "Art tells the story of a nation’s history and civilisation. Anyone who does not know how to appeciate the arts should not call themselves civilised. "This is also the reason why our first Prime Minister (the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj) established the National Art Gallery soon after independence," said Dr Mahathir when speaking at the National Art Gallery's 60th Anniversary celebration here tonight, Also present were his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi and National Art Gallery director-general Prof Datuk Dr Mohamed Najib Ahmad Dawa. The National Art Gallery was established a year after the country gained independence with its original premises in Jalan Ampang. It was relocated to Jalan Keretapi when it was known as ‘Balai Seni Lukis’ before moving to its own building, the current Balai Seni Negara in Jalan Temerloh in 2000. Dr Mahathir urged the people to help support arts and culture as these traits were important in shaping a Malaysian identity which everyone could be proud of. "This is true even as we strive to achieve Vision 2020, and even while a person works hard to earn thousands of ringgit (through work). “Without our own artistic identity we cannot claim to be civilised," he said. Dr Mahathir said Malaysia’s natural wonders were often the subject of paintings, sculptures and other visual art, and such products helped with the country’s economy as well. "Investing in a painting is never a waste because the art's value increases with time, unlike cars or motorcycles. It becomes even more expensive if the painter is no longer around,” he said. Meanwhile, Mohamaddin said the National Arts Gallery recorded over 737,000 visitors between 2015 to June this year with arts sales proceeds reaching RM38 million. "National Arts Gallery will be opening a second gallery at Dayang Bay in Langkawi soon. It is also organising the Asia International Conference of Art and Desogn 2018 there," he said, adding that tonight’s event was an appreciation to the ministry and all its agencies. Earlier, Dr Mahathir launched a monthly magazine called Senikini for art lovers and launched a limited edition ‘Balai Seni Negara’ stamps to commemorate its 60th anniversary . © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd