Perak Arts Festival

By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Perak Tourism AssociationThe desire to see a change in the public’s perception of Visit Perak Year 2012 (VPY 2012) prompted a couple of concerned individuals in the tourism industry to do something drastic. They initiated plans to overhaul the ongoing programmes by putting in place an activity which will be regarded as the culmination of the year-long festivities.

Taking the lead in the initiative is Haji Odzman Abdul Kadir, President of Perak Tourism Association better known by its abbreviation PTA. The association, for some inexplicable reasons, has been constantly referred to as Parent-Teacher Association that dabbles in tourism. It may sound funny but that is the sad fact.

The Perak Tourism Association has been in existence for a very long time but its significance has been under-estimated by many in the tourism industry. The enormity of its responsibilities outstrips that of state-level affiliates such as the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) and the Malaysian Association of Hoteliers (MAH).

Its primary role is to act as a conduit between the state government and tourism industry players. Frankly, PTA exists for a reason. It has positioned itself as a convenient facilitator to convert policies into actions and vice versa. Being a go-between, its role in the whole scheme of things is enormous. But due to an infantile tourism industry and an equally inept tourist department, PTA has not been able to exert itself.

This could be the reason why some take a dim view of the association, equating it to a parent-teacher body more prone to hiccups than astuteness. Those who consider the association as nothing more than a necessary irritant now do so at their own peril.

Odzman’s “event to end all events” found solid footing when his proposal paper was accepted, with minimal changes, by Dato’ Hamidah Osman, Executive Councillor for Tourism. His request for RM250,000, a very conservative estimate for the three-day festival, was duly approved by Hamidah. The money will come from the RM500,000 allocation by the Tourism Ministry to the state for VPY 2012.

“Making it an event to end all events is a tall order,” said Odzman. Undeterred by negative comments, the former teacher is determined to prove his critics wrong. “I’ve the right people on my side,” he enthused. Obviously, he was referring to Syahruddin Hamid, the Director of the Ministry of Tourism (Perak) and Mohd Taib, President of Perak Heritage Society. Newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Perak Management Berhad, Haji Musa Dun has been won over. The quartet has identified their targets and, in the weeks ahead, will go about making their dreams a reality.

Perak Arts Festival is slated for September 14 till 16. It will coincide with Malaysia Day, which falls on September 16. The objective of the celebration is to showcase the rich heritage of the four races namely, Malay, Chinese, Indian and Orang Asli. “We’ve lost plenty due to progress. Reviving these dying arts will be central to the festival,” said Syahruddin.

The event will be held at Dataran MBI (MBI Square) and will be in the form of an exhibition held within four tented pavilions. The pavilions will exhibit the art forms indigenous to the four races.

A variety of programmes are on the cards to keep visitors of all ages occupied. They include traditional games, extreme games and street games. Clinics to teach those keen on learning the dying arts will be held. “We’ve something for everyone,” said Mohd Taib.

Publicity, long the bane of VPY 2012, will be adequately addressed. “We’ll use all available avenues to promote the event nation-wide,” said Odzman. “And that includes the huge LED screens in town.”

Visit Perak Year 2012 looks set to finish on a cheery note, contrary to what many have predicted.

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