Can you tell our readers a little bit about the history of Malaysia Carnival? For how many years has this been taking place? How did it begin?
The Malaysia Carnival returns in 2022 following a hiatus for the past few years due to the health pandemic. This Carnival is an annual event that was initiated almost 20 years ago to bring Malaysians together, as well as to share our culture, food, warmth and hospitality to the UK public and our friends from the diplomatic corps and the international community. In the past, the Carnival was usually held during the months of August and September and was called the ‘Merdeka’ Carnival to coincide with the celebrations of Malaysia’s Independence Day, which falls on 31 August, and Malaysia Day, which falls on 16 September. We decided to move the Carnival earlier this year to take advantage of the summer weather. (As you can see from the photos, the 2019 Carnival was a rather rainy affair!)
What can attendees expect to see and experience at Malaysia Carnival?
The Carnival is a whole day event from 10am to 5pm. There will be many stalls selling a variety of Malaysian cuisines - from the famous nasi lemak, roti canai, laksa, satay and much more, to and everyone’s favourite Malaysian drink, teh tarik. Everyone is invited to enjoy the warm summer weather and Malaysian food and delicacies. There will also be stalls selling Malaysian products such as food from Malaysia, traditional attire such as the ‘Kebaya Nyonya’ outfits, Malaysian crafts and many other products.
Apart from that, Malaysian cultural performances such as the ‘Tarian Joget’ dance, Sabah Traditional Dances, and the Malaysian martial art of ‘Silat’ will be performed. There will also be a live band, singing performances, and a fashion show.
Interested visitors are invited take part in the many activities at the event such as games for both adults and children, a play area for children, dancing and singing. There will also be a raffle with great prizes such as hotel stays, return airline tickets to Malaysia, electronic items, and much more.
Malaysia Carnival seems to be a classic case of soft power and cultural diplomacy. What can a cultural event like this do for Malaysia and Malaysia-UK relations?
At the heart of it, diplomacy is about making friends and building connections. Cultural diplomacy is part of this, and an event such as this allows us to showcase the best of Malaysia to our UK hosts and friends.
The Carnival, which combines the many aspects of cultural diplomacy, not only helps promote Malaysian food and culture, but also provides opportunities to learn more about Malaysian businesses and promote Malaysia’s tourism sector to the UK public in general.
The Carnival, which combines the many aspects of cultural diplomacy, not only helps promote Malaysian food and culture, but also provides opportunities to learn more about Malaysian businesses and promote Malaysia’s tourism sector to the UK public
People-to-people contacts help to solidify and maintain these warm relations between our two countries, and creates a positive domino-effect that translates into tangible cooperation, whether at the political level through government-government interactions, or to sectors such as trade, investment, tourism and education
Will there be mostly Malaysian attendees or some British and other nationals too? What are the direct consequences of people-to-people contacts?
Everyone is invited and welcomed to the Malaysia Carnival. We have promoted this event widely to the local community and through our networks.
Malaysia and the UK have a long history together. We have strong and friendly relations, the UK remains a preferred destination for Malaysian tourists and students, and we share many of the same systems and values. People-to-people contacts help to solidify and maintain these warm relations between our two countries, and creates a positive domino-effect that translates into tangible cooperation, whether at the political level through government-government interactions, or to sectors such as trade, investment, tourism and education.
In your experience, what is it about Malaysian culture that is best received by visiting guests to an event like this, or even when visiting Malaysia?
Our hospitality. Malaysians are warm and open people. We love guests and visitors – whether it is to our events, or when they visit our country. We want everyone to feel welcomed and at home, and we will do our best to make them comfortable.
What other cultural items/events do you have on the programme at the High Commission over the next 12 months and beyond?
The High Commission hosted an exhibition by Her Majesty Queen Azizah of The Royal Pahang Weave this past May as part of the 2022 London Craft Week. It was a highly successful exhibition where we welcomed over 2,000 visitors to the High Commission over the course of the week, including Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, The Duchess of Gloucester, members of the UK government, the diplomatic corps in London, visitors from the fashion and textile industries, and the general public. Her Majesty Queen Azizah intends to participate again in next year’s London Craft Week.
Malaysia will also be continuing our annual participation in the upcoming World Travel Market (WTM) Expo in London this November. For the event this year, a number of cultural and activities are being planned to be showcased at the Expo.
The High Commission has further been invited again this year to participate in the Commonwealth Fair on 12 November at Kensington Town Hall. The High Commission is expecting to raise funds for charity by selling Malaysian cuisines and delicacies, as well as Malaysian arts and craft at the fair. Malaysian dances and songs are also expected to be performed at the fair.
The various Malaysian students’ associations throughout the UK are also very active, and many will organise their annual ‘Malaysian Night’ cultural events at their respective varsities and institutions, and these usually take place in the months of February and March. In addition, the Malay Language and Culture Society (MALECS) will host ‘Rainbow of Cultures,’ which is an annual event that celebrates the diverse cultural background of the Malaysian community. This fun and entertaining event features Malaysian culture, from performances, to art, food, and fashion shows. The High Commission is very supportive of these events and will continue to support them in the future.
How will you highlight 65 years of Malaysia’s Independence this summer?
The Carnival is the first step. We have other activities that are being planned, and we hope to announce these soon, including our National Day reception, and a number of community activities.