Expressing #tanahairku in wall murals

By Danielle Sendou Ringgit


Beautifully painted in eye-catching colours and intricate detail, one can’t help but stop and stare at three new wall murals created by our local street artists around the city.

On September 5th, Petronas launched the #tanahairku campaign at Magenta Restaurant created to promote and strengthen social cohesion in Malaysia.

The campaign involved the creation of wall murals over the last two weeks by young local artists, mentored by renowned graffiti artist Kenji Chai in three locations in the city.


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The “Leaping Feline’ at Ethnic Tribal Café of Lebuh Carpenter


It is difficult to miss the majestic wall mural at Ethnic Tribal Café at Lebuh Carpenter, depicting the what appears to be a fusion of a domestic cat and the hind of a clouded leopard wearing traditional Iban headgear.

Done by local artists Sonia Luhong and Amy Amin, the mural titled the ‘Leaping Feline’, is about moving ahead into a progressive future while the hind leg signifies Sarawak strong identity and roots.

“The reason why we chose the domestic cat is because it shows urbanisation, modernity and of course Kuching which is known as the ‘Cat City’. We also chose the clouded leopard because some elements in Sarawak native culture, would use it to make warrior vests,” said Sonia.

“Even as we move forward, advancing towards modernity as symbolised by the domestic cat, we should not forget our roots, as symbolised by the clouded leopard. Another reason why we used the hind leg of the clouded leopard was that no matter how far we advance, it is our identity and roots that spring us forward,” she added.

Aside from that, Sonia also noted the details in the mural also represented four distinct ethnic groups in Sarawak which can be seen in the Chinese clouds, Iban headgear, the Malay pucuk rebung and the Indian mandala.


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The ‘Hornbill, Hibiscus, Harmony’ at Handicraft Wall of Jalan Main Bazaar.


Meanwhile, the second mural titled ‘Hornbill, Hibiscus and Harmony’ by Dewi Mio and Mohd Nor Shaddiq Mohamad Hamsah located at the Handicraft Wall of Jalan Main Bazaar represents the spirit of ‘Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban’ which, loosely translated, means to never give up.

If you look closely, the word ‘Harmony’ painted across the hornbill is actually in the shape of the Iban shield, the ‘terabai’ while the hornbill ardently protects its homeland rich in flora and fauna symbolised by the hibiscus.


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‘Children’ at St. Mary’s Wall at Lebuh Wayang


Titled ‘Children’ by Mohd Afiruddin (Dean R) and Amey Sheikh Ali, the mural simply illustrates its title where it depicts faces of children of Malaysia as the future generation having a great impact in shaping the face of the nation.

Located at St. Mary’s Wall of Lebuh Wayang, the mural also has the words ‘Menua Kitai’ written across the right side of the wall which means ‘our homeland’ made up of different races and beliefs.

“In conjunction with the upcoming Malaysia Day, we hope to present our nation as a melting pot of culture and traditions. We strongly believed that the common values we share are what make us Malaysians, a message we hope will come through in the #tanahairku campaign,” said Petronas general manager of internal communications, Khairuddin Jaafar on behalf of senior general manager of group strategic communications, Liz Kamaruddin.


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Abdul Wahap (middle) during the launching of the campaign at Magenta Restaurant with Khairuddin (fifth from the right) and street artist (from left) Amy Amin, Amey Sheikh Ali, Dewi Miyo, (from right) Mohd Nor Shaddiq, Dean R and Sonia.


“The campaign serves as a subtle reminder to the younger generations about what makes Malaysia special. We use street art as a medium to reach out and stir conversations because creative expressions have the power to transform people’s behaviours. We hope that these artworks will do just that,” he added.

Also present to officiate the launching of the campaign is Kuching City North Commission (DBKU) mayor Datuk Abang Wahap Abang Julai who thanked Petronas for coming up with the idea that went well with their philosophy of making ‘Kuching a Clean, Beautiful and Safe City’.

“DBKU has been toying with the idea of having more cat statues,” said Abdul Wahap, adding that DBKU will be collaborating with UITM to create statues of cats using recyclable materials.

#tanahairku is an initiative by Petronas to engage the Malaysian youths and cultivate the spirit of patriotism in the younger generation inspired by a poem by National Leaureate, the late Datuk Dr. Usman Awang titled ‘Tanah Air’.

The third edition of #tanahairku covers three states – Johor, Sarawak and Sabah where a total of 22 street artists have been commissioned to paint 10 selected walls in these three regions.

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