KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — The country’s two intangible cultural heritage, namely, ‘pantun’ and ‘upacara wangkang’ have been listed  under the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity category by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through a multinational nomination.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said for the first time Malaysia managed to gain UNESCO recognition along with other countries as wangkang ceremony was jointly nominated with the People’s Republic of China and pantun was jointly nominated with Indonesia.

“This decision was announced on Dec 17 during the 15th session of the Intergovernmental Committee  for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage which is ongoing until Dec 19.

“This prestigious listing has been decided by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage which comprises 24 member states  to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage chaired by Jamaica,” she said in a statement yesterday.

She said with the recognition, Malaysia now has five intangible cultural heritage listed under the Representative List, the first was in 2005 through the legacy of mak yong, dondang sayang (2018) and silat (2019).

The wangkang or barge festival which had existed in Melaka since 1854 is a procession of ships inviting wandering souls, evil spirits and other negative elements where they will then be sent away into the unknown and it was the Chinese community’s belief that the effort was to bring, peace, prosperity and happiness to a certain place.

Pantun is an old Malay poem that usually consists of four lines in each stanza. The first two lines are hints and the other two carries the actual meaning. 

Elaborating Nancy said so far 180 countries have become member states of the Convention and a total of 463 intangible cultural heritage from around the world have been recognised under the Representative List.

She said the listing also showed the country’s commitment to protecting its intangible cultural heritage which had indirectly raised Malaysia’s visibility in the eyes of the world as one of the countries with various  treasures that can be national tourism products.

Nancy also reminded that the recognition is a responsibility that must be borne by all parties including the government, the private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the community and individuals to ensure that our cultural heritage continues to be protected and preserved for future generations.


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