‘Keretapi Sarong 2023’ adds colours to Malaysia Day celebrations

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KS 2023 participants taking part in the lively ‘joget lambak’ at Ipoh Railway Station. — Bernama photos

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 18): More than 10,000 people, of various races and ages, took part in the Keretapi Sarong 2023 (KS 2023), aimed at instilling the spirit of love for the country and its diversity, in celebration of Malaysia Day on Saturday.

They proved that there was nothing shameful in donning traditional attire, complete with various ethnic ornaments. Some were proudly clad in batik sarong and ‘kain pelekat’, all symbolising the country’s culture and heritage.

It was like a trip down memory lane as KS 2023, themed ‘Ethnicity and Unity’, was also jazzed up with a sarong fashion show, a flash mob and ‘joget lambak’, complete with the 1960s and 1970s tunes filling the air.

Beautiful women walking past the Ipoh Railway Station Ipoh, proudly wearing traditional and contemporary batik-designed dresses.

KS 2023 director Shamsul Bahrin Zainuzzaman hailed the programme as having successfully achieved its main objective – to see Malaysians in ethnic attire travelling on public transport while promoting the traditional sarongs.

“I am wearing the traditional attire of the Bidayuh ethnic group as a sign of support, and we also saw many other friends from various races taking part in KS 2023,” he told Bernama, here.

The Keretapi Sarong was first introduced by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Random Alphabet, in 2012 before being taken over by LOCCO in 2017, involving thousands of participants travelling on public transport wearing either batik or ‘pelikat’ sarongs as the main uniform.

KS 2023 participants, looking smart in their batik and ‘pelikat’-inspired outfits, lining up to enter the platform at LRT Ampang Station, making their way to the gathering at Dataran Merdeka.

This year, KS 2023 commenced simultaneously from seven stations: KL Sentral Light Rail Transit (LRT), Gombak LRT, Ampang LRT, Subang Jaya LRT, Kajang Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), Bandar Utama MRT and KLIA Transit; before gathering at Dataran Merdeka.

Similar events also took place simultaneously in major cities such as Johor Bahru (along Sungai Segget), Ipoh Railway Station (KTMB Ipoh) and Kuala Terengganu (Terengganu Cultural Village), as well as in London, the UK (Battersea Power Station).

KS 2023 participants on board the train, taking them to the mass gathering at Dataran Merdeka.

To further enliven the atmosphere, various patriotic and traditional songs were also being played, including ‘Negaraku’, ‘Jalur Gemilang’, ‘Gemuruh’, ‘Standing In The Eyes Of The World’, ‘Rasa Sayang’, ‘Dikir Puteri’, Enjit Enjit Semut’, ‘Lemak Manis’, ‘Can Mali Can’ and ‘Anak Tupai’.

A KS 2023 participant, Izat Izhar, 28, seen wearing traditional clothes from the Kadazan Dusun ethnic group, felt that the programme not only could instil patriotic spirit, but could indirectly introduce various ethnic groups in Malaysia via traditional attire as well.

“This is my first time participating and I’m very excited. We gathered, marched and sang together while showcasing our traditional attire, making the atmosphere lively and vibrant,” said Izat, who drove from Kuantan, Pahang, to Kajang just to participate in KS 2023.

Alpasusanti Ismail, 43, from Bangi, Selangor, described the programme as the symbol of unity among various races, as it was celebrated in connection with Malaysia Day 2023.

“I came to this event as a ‘lone ranger’, but when I arrived, I didn’t feel alone anymore; everyone was so friendly, it was like meeting old friends. It was really fun, and given a chance, I will participate again next year,” she said.

Juliana Lai Joo Lian, 70, with her husband John Roland Goh, 71, and her mother Song Yoke Lan, 90, having their photo taken in their residence at Taman Suria in Cheras, before joining other participants of KS 2023 taking place at Dataran Merdeka. The family is from the Baba Nyonya Peranakan Chinese community in Melaka.

In IPOH, a total of 500 participants from Perak, Kedah and Penang participated in KS2023, which was held at the Ipoh Railway Station grounds at Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab, wearing traditional Malay attire including sarongs, baju kurung, kebaya, traditional warrior attire and baju Melayu.

The founder of Ipoh Social Club, Deena Erissa Delaila Mohd Zawawi, 26, said the programme was carried out in collaboration with LOCCO, and they had lined up various activities, including joget lambak and lucky draws.

Another KS 2023 participant, Amanda Cheah Wei Hua, 30, a secondary school teacher, said she took part in the programme as she found it to be unique, and could boost the spirit of patriotism among Malaysians.

These women look resplendent in their lovely Baba Nyonya kebayas, accessorised with modern handbags and also batik sunhats.

In JOHOR BAHRU, a total of 600 KS 2023 participants flooded the 1km Sungai Segget footpath in the city in connection with the Malaysia Day celebration.

All participants, of various races, marched along Sungai Segget to the Komtar JBCC shopping centre, while singing patriotic and classical songs, accompanied by a dance performance.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) Social Development head Raja Taufik Azad Ahmad Suhaimi said KS 2023 in Johor was organised by Iskandar Youth Hub Sdn Bhd, and was attended by all walks of life, including school students, institutions of higher learning (IPT) and NGOs.

“KS 2023 marks the first time it has been held in Johor in conjunction with the Malaysia Day celebration, and the participation has been very encouraging. We do not rule out the possibility of organising it again next year,” he told reporters.

KS 2023 participants, all wearing their respective traditional attire, disembarking from the train at LRT Masjid Jamek Station and heading to Dataran Merdeka.

In KUALA TERENGGANU, as many as 3,000 visitors thronged the Terengganu Cultural Village for the ‘Musing Ketang’ programme, held in conjunction with KS 2023.

Terengganu Tourism, Culture, Environment and Climate Change Committee deputy chairman Sulaiman Sulong said various activities were carried out to jazz up the three-day programme in conjunction with Malaysia Day celebrations.

He said among the activities held were demonstrations of ‘tikar kercut’ making, brassware carving, replicas of traditional boats, ‘wau’ (kites) and batik paintings – all representing the identity of the Terengganu people.

“We are taking the opportunity of KS 2023 to introduce the traditions and culture of Terengganu to foreign tourists. In this way, we can bring back the glory, culture and heritage covering architecture, traditional cuisine and so on,” he said. — Bernama

Juliana Lai Joo Lian, 70, (second right) and fellow Baba Nyonya Peranakan Chinese womenfolk gather for a photo-call during the KS 2023 event at Dataran Merdeka.