Rojak Party: Embracing Malaysia’s colours

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PETALING JAYA: The Rojak Projek, a Malaysian artistic initiative aimed at bridging cultural divides nationwide, recently held their first public Rojak Party, the latest in a series of events aimed at raising awareness of what the group of young Malaysians have called “colour embracing”.

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The event was hosted by Charlie’s Cafe, a restaurant off Old Klang Road famous for its Pay-It-Forward initiative to feed the homeless and needy as well as for its focus on the cuisines of Sabah and Sarawak.

According to Rojak Projek founder Faye Lim, the initiative was sparked by a need to address the nation’s diversity in a different light, one that would embrace the nation’s colours instead of diluting them to shades of grey.

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“We’re not about being colour blind; we are about embracing our differences,” Lim told FMT. She helms the project along with co-founders Jonathan Chong and Rachel Lee.

“To us, the beauty of multicultural Malaysia shouldn’t be diluted to shades of grey because our colours are where our beauty lies.”

“The Rojak Party is an event where we would like to create an environment of ‘makan’, sharing, learning and embracing from and with each other to explore what it means to be a united nation,” says the official Facebook Event description.

The project’s current stage, Lim explained, involved the exploration of Malaysia and its diverse cultures and their integral role in Malaysia’s development.

“It was through our artwork done in Phase One (Vision for Malaysia) that we realised there are so many things we do not know about Malaysia’s food, culture, and people, which leads us to Phase Two, a journey to Rediscovering Each Other.

“We wanted to emphasise on Malaysia Day, having realised its larger importance through meeting various people in this journey,” Lim said.

Lim said that many of those involved in the Rojak Projek had only really heard about Malaysia Day a few years ago through the media.

“Everything that’s been done has always been emphasising Merdeka Day. Though that is extremely important, Malaysia Day is equally important.

“If no one wants to trend Malaysia Day-ness, we shall take the initiative to start first with Malaysian love the best we can,” she said.

Served at the second Rojak Party were Sabahan delicacies such as tuhau, hinava, bambangan and Tenom coffee, courtesy of cafe owner Desonny Tuzan.

Bambangan is a type of wild mango native to Sabah, while tuhau is a Kadazandusun dish of pickled wild ginger, chillies and scallions, originating from Tambunan, Keningau and Ranau. Hinava is another traditional Kadazandusun pickled dish made from raw fish, lime juice, chilli and bitter gourd.

“This batch has been pickled for a week,” Charlie Cafe’s Debra Leong said, explaining the hinava. “The longer it sits, the better it tastes.”

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Central to the Rojak Projek’s current focus on food is a series of Hungry Mail postcards, which feature pictures of the nation’s various cultural delicacies. The postcards have been sent to various parts of the world. They feature classic Malaysian delicacies such as Chinese ang ku kueh, Sarawakian kek lapis, Indian vadai, and Malay kuih ketayap.

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The Hungry Mail project comes as part of the Rojak Projek’s first phase, which will see the group hosting a Rojak Party on the 16th of every month until May 2017 to “reinforce the idea of Malaysia for all Malaysians”.

The Rojak Projek, Lim said, would travel to all 13 states of Malaysia and film a documentary of the journey.

Future Rojak Party venues will depend on location, with all announcements to be made on social media and the Rojak Projek’s website.