Lenggong should rightfully build an image of its historical city, not just ‘Pekasam’ .

By Aida Aziz

LENGGONG: After more than 40 years of working in other states to earn a living, a native of Kampung Chepor has returned to Hulu Perak to fulfill his desire to promote Malay culture here.

The first time you set foot in the Aki Gallery run by Lukhman Mahmud, 62, you will be amazed by the uniqueness and creative power he has harnessed to showcase Malay identity.

His view of commercial value in Lenggong is also different, and he firmly believes that there are still many treasures that have not been explored and introduced to the public.

Especially when the Lenggong Valley has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and is now under state government management.

“I believe there is a lack of creative energy from community leaders, including political leaders here. What are they trying to promote? We should improve the community’s income.

“I’ve heard they want to promote pekasam (salted fish), but what is its commercial value? When people come here, they talk about pekasam. We have UNESCO recognition, but we’re known for pekasam.

“The issue here is how we can build an image for Lenggong. It’s not wrong to have pekasam, but we need an identity for this place.

“If Melaka has its stories, so does Negeri Sembilan, Langkawi with Mahsuri. Here, it’s actually famous for the ancient city, Lenggong itself in the valley or crater,” he said when met here recently.

He suggested that the state government should uplift the city’s image in Lenggong while differentiating between recreation and history.

“Use the Malay elements here to promote Malay heritage. Lenggong has various unique features and an aura. Unfortunately, there’s little development, and if there is, it’s mainly basic necessities for the public.

“People who come, no matter which country they’re from, they will choose history. We should enhance the historical value.

“The UNESCO recognition is the most valuable ticket that, in my opinion, has not been fully utilized. Because of this awareness, I was determined to establish this Aki Gallery, the result of my own hard work, to spread the history here to the public.

“This is a way to attract people to Lenggong. The items here are my collection, some bought, and some given by villagers. Each item here has its own historical story.

“There are three important elements here, such as a more than 60-year-old Malay house and Kota Gangga Negara, the history of Beruas. I rebuilt some of it and made some modifications to the city here,” he said.

Furthermore, the gallery is regularly visited by the public, especially on weekends, with an admission fee of RM10 for those who make reservations.

However, he mentioned that for those who come as ‘walk-ins,’ they are usually given some flexibility, and the fee varies depending on their ability.

For those who visit Aki’s Gallery in Kampung Chepor, you have the opportunity to see exhibited items such as old Malay houses, Kota Gangga Negara, farming equipment, rice plants, rubber collections, and a World War II-era barber shop.

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