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Dulu, Kini & Selamanya: These M’sians Are Preserving Local Legacies & We Are So Touched!


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Source: @wesleyhilton & @lizzacreations

As a multicultural nation, it’s no secret that Malaysia is rich with diverse cultures and traditions. However, we can also see that as the world moves towards a more progressive society, these traditions are sadly getting more obscured. This is why it always warms our hearts whenever we see Malaysians who strive to keep our traditional legacies alive.

Now that we’re all in the spirit of celebrating our beloved country in conjunction with Merdeka and Malaysia Day, it’s a great time for us to shine the spotlight on a few special Malaysians who work hard to preserve local traditions. Curious to know about them? You can read about them below!


1. Taking big strides in miniature traditional costumes

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Wesley Anak Juntan, also known as Wesley Hilton, is a globe-trotting cabin crew member who also has a love for collecting dolls. When the pandemic struck in 2020 and he was left with a lot of free time, he decided to make miniature traditional costumes for his dolls. His first creation was his Kumang doll (dressed in a traditional Iban costume) which came to fruition due to his homesickness when he couldn’t return home for Gawai celebrations due to travel restrictions.

After posting about the Kumang doll on social media, Wesley’s work quickly became viral. Since then, he has created various Malaysian traditional costumes from Malay, Chinese, Indian and Bornean cultures. What makes Wesley’s creations stand out is how he makes everything from scratch and he even sources materials from the costume’s origin state to ensure its authenticity.

Nowadays, despite juggling between work and managing a high volume of orders, he is still committed to preserving Malaysian traditional costumes through his miniature dolls. He protects his beloved culture well by pouring so much effort into his craft and he is happy to see his creations being loved by Malaysians everywhere.


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2. Going global with local artisanal Batik

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Rosliza Muhammad (better known as Lizza) and Sarah Isharuddin are the mother-daughter duo behind Lizza’s Creations and they have been creating Malaysian artisanal batik for over 28 years. Lizza preserves the beauty of Malaysian batik by creating it the traditional way – hand-drawn using a wax drawing technique called ‘mencanting‘. This ensures that each design is one-of-a-kind. She also aims to make each design suit the aesthetics of the modern world while continuing the legacy of the traditional batik look.

While Lizza is in charge of creating the batik, her daughter, Sarah, is currently pursuing her Master’s in Entrepreneurship and Management in the UK. As the creative mastermind of her mother’s creations, Sarah actively promotes and spreads awareness about Malaysian batik online and even in the UK.

Even though they are faced with the challenge of competing with digitally printed batik, which is easier and cheaper to make, Lizza and Sarah insist on carrying the legacy of locally-made artisanal batik. They plan well ahead by making sure that this age-old legacy will survive for future generations to enjoy.


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3. Traditional Zapin dance that transcends cultures

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The beautiful thing about living in Malaysia is that sometimes, our cultures can become intertwined with one another. For instance, meet Syafizal Syazlee, 37, and his dance partner Yee Teng, 25. Syafizal is a performer and trainer at Nyala Dance Theater. He has been learning and performing traditional arts since he was in school and he specialises in traditional Malay dances such as Asli, Inang, Joget and Zapin. Over the years, he has taught, coached and competed on local and international levels.

At the Nyala Dance Theater, he met Yee Teng, a fellow performer and trainer. She admits that it’s rare for a Chinese dancer to perform traditional Malay dances but Yee Teng is really passionate about it! She mentioned that she feels a sense of belonging in the dance, especially Zapin, and she is also delighted to be able to speak Mandarin with some of her Malay teammates including Syafizal.

While Yee Teng was meant to study dance in China, she had to return to Malaysia due to the pandemic and is currently learning through online classes. She did, however, manage to perform the Zapin dance in China before she returned! This just proves that no matter where we go, we are all Malaysian at heart! As for Syafizal, he joined AIA Public Takaful as a Life Planner (Takaful Agent) during the MCO in order to survive but he is still committed and active in performing arts. Both of them aim to live well with the purpose of continuing the legacy of our Zapin dance and making sure it doesn’t go extinct so that future generations can enjoy our traditions and proudly flaunt our cultural identity.


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It’s definitely moving to know that these incredible Malaysians are doing their best to champion our local cultures. The best part is that they are not doing this for themselves. Rather, they are working towards preserving our local legacies for the sake of our future generations. For that, they truly deserve to be called ourPerwira Legasi (Legacy Heroes).

Aia Perwira Legasi Masthead

We also applaud AIA Malaysia for celebrating these passionate Malaysians this national month so they can receive the recognition that they deserve for all their hard work. Not only is this a great step in uplifting local creators, but it can also inspire other talents out there!

These local crafts prove that any one of us can do our part in supporting and preserving our own traditional culture so that our legacy doesn’t cease to exist. We hope that everyone reading this will be just as inspired as we are and we can all take the time to appreciate our culture a bit more from now on!

Hopefully, with enough support, our effort will be sufficient to ensure that we can preserve our traditional legacies and that our diverse cultures can survive to make for a Healthier, Longer and Better society in the long run. Let’s do our part to always #SapotLokal, okay guys? 💪

For more information on these Legacy Heroes, you can head over to AIA Malaysia’s Instagram and Facebook pages where they share more about their incredible arts. And if you’d like to learn about how to live Healthier, Longer and Better, you can visit AIA Malaysia’s website here.


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