Commemorating Merdeka and Malaysia Day

The Monash University School of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS) Alumni Association celebrated the country’s 60th Merdeka Day and the 54th Malaysia Day with an alumni charity get-together.

Named Makan, Music and Main, the event saw live music performances, scrumptious food as well as a spoken word performance.

The RM15 ticket sales for food and drinks was in support of social enterprise, The Picha Project, which delivers and caters authentic traditional meals from different cultures prepared by refugee families from various countries to companies, events, and organisations in Malaysia.

Kicking off the celebrations, Dr Yeoh Seng Guan, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, Monash University Malaysia who highlighted that the event does not only aim to provide a platform for fellow SASS alumni to network, but also to encourage them to give back to the community.

Lee Swee Lin, Co-Founder of The Picha Project, shared that there are some 65 million refugees in the world, out of which, only an abysmal 5% have been resettled into new countries.

Lee added that despite having 150,000 registered refugees in Malaysia, there are currently no refugee camps in the country. She explained that the food catered at the event, comprising of rice, dumplings and chicken, beef and vegetable dishes, were cooked by an Afghan and Rohingnya refugee in Malaysia.

“All our cooks are refugees who live in Kuala Lumpur,” explained Lee, adding that their organisation currently works with 10 refugee families from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine.

She thanked SASS and the university for the opportunity to cater for the function and encouraged guests to give back to society in any way they can.

Guests were entertained by a lively performance by The Machas!. The trio donned sarongs and a samping respectively and sang an eclectic mix of English, Malay and Hindustani songs, including oldies from the late actor and singer P. Ramlee’s Getaran Jiwa.

Next, Illya Sumanto added some Malaysian flavour to her spoken word performance which was infused with theatrical elements. Her first poem touched on the three major races in the country while she delivered her performance in both English and Bahasa Malaysia.

The aromatherapist also handed out Mahkota Dewa (Phaleria macrocarpa) seeds to guests as an encouragement for them to grow plants at home, in addition to highlighting its health benefits.

Speed painter Tracia Chan wowed audience with her paintings of four iconic Malaysians - the late film director Yasmin Ahmad, diver and Olympic medalist Pandelela Rinong, Sabah's first Chief Minister Tun Mohammed Fuad Stephens and Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman - which she completed while The Machas! performed.

The event drew to a close after attendees were given an opportunity to test their knowledge on Malaysia’s history by answering several questions posed by the organisers, with those who answered correctly walking away with books or Chan’s paintings.

Alumnus Lim Zhen Hui, who is the spokesperson for the SASS Alumni Association, said this was the second event organised by the association. He explained that having The Picha Project as caterer was their first small step towards helping those in need, and added that they aim to have more charity initiatives in the future.

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