Malaysia's costume at Olympics opening ceremony could have been designed better

LETTERS: Malaysia should take every opportunity to promote the best of its natural and man-made assets at world forums as a means of enhancing its image.

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) has done a reasonably good job in enhancing the country's image through promoting its ecotourism and cultural products at international trade fairs, tourism conferences such as the Asean Tourism Forum and even at international sporting events.

And the Olympics is one of the most significant forums to showcase the best of Malaysian athletes and talents.

The march past (parade of contingents) should be utilised to proudly display our flag (Jalur Gemilang) and the athletes' attire emblazoned with our cultural heritage.

However, the attire worn by our contingent at the opening of the Tokyo Olympics did not do justice to our design prowess and artistic tastes.

It would seem that the designer had no inclination of form, colour, pattern and elements of composition, much less the psychology of colours.

If the idea is to use the colours of the flag for the costume, it should be blended into an aesthetically pleasing and attractive composition and not simply splash it on the costume.

Another point of contention is that the design was inspired by the legendary warrior Hang Tuah. Was it his prowess as a warrior, or his blind loyalty or his combat or ceremonial attire? Hang Tuah would be turning in his grave if he knew that he was made to look like a clown.

Does the baju Melayu consisting of yellow shirt, off white trousers, chevron samping and tengkolok (headgear), black cumberband, and red jacket represent the epitome of the fighting spirit that could be translated into sporting energy?

Overall, the design is a convoluted confusion of clashing colours, shapes, forms, patterns that is visually comical and caricaturist.

To think the UITM designed this attire is unthinkable because it used to have great artist designers the likes of Fatimah Ismail and the late Professor Najib Noor who designed highly acclaimed costumes for the 1988 Commonwealth Games hosted by Malaysia. Something is amiss in the Faculty of Arts and Design of UiTM.

This posits Malaysia as a country bereft of artistic tastes and talent, which is not true because there are both professional and amateur designers who could have rendered sterling aesthetic and functional attire that would make Malaysia proud on the world stage.


Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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