Celebrating The Unique Hybrid Culture of Baba Nyonya

KUALA LUMPUR, 19 August 2021 – Titled “Lu Ho Baba Nyonya”, the campaign organised by UCSI University’s third year Mass Communication students was aimed to raise awareness on the hybridity of a culture existed locally since the 15th century as unique as Baba Nyonya in Malaysia, and how it plays a major role in shaping the identity of our nation.

“The campaign introduced the world of the Baba Nyonya to more individuals while increasing the sustainability of the culture by encouraging the Baba Nyonya descendants to recall the common practises used by their ancestors.” said James Ly Toong Kwok, Course Instructor of Lu Ho Baba Nyonya Campaign from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, UCSI University.

The three-month long campaign from mid-May to mid-August 2021 was divided into three activations respectively. The main event of the campaign was a live webinar streamed via Microsoft Teams and Facebook Live titled “Lu Ho Baba Nyonya - Chakap Ho Seh Lai!”, that took place on 30 July 2021 from 8.00 PM to 10.00PM. The webinar focused on educating the public on various languages spoken by the Baba Nyonyas with a special emphasis on Baba Malay, which is spoken in Malacca and Singapore, and Penang Hokkien which is spoken in Penang. The webinar saw an amazing turnout of more than 150 attendees.

The webinar featured a panel of esteemed Baba Nyonya advocates that shared their views and answered questions pertaining to the Baba Nyonya language and culture. Guest speakers for the webinar included Frederick Soh, First Vice President of Gunong Sayang Association, Singapore; Dr Lee Su Kim, Author of “Kebaya Tales: Of Matriarchs, Maidens, Mistresses, and Matchmakers” and Founding President of the Peranakan Baba Nyonya Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor; and Lee Yuen Thien, Manager of Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum and Vice President of the Baba and Nyonya Association of Malaysia.

Holding the culture close to heart and from the Baba Nyonya community herself, Emeritus Professor Dr Phang Siew Moi, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Postgraduate Studies at UCSI University was a Special Guest in the webinar and shared, “Listening to the renowned panellists describing their efforts to preserve and communicate the Baba Nyonya culture to the world, especially the endangered patois language, with such passion was very inspiring. Everyone enjoyed the session as the interactions between the panel members and the participants were excellent.”

Additionally, there were two other events. Jiak Kuih Mou, posted on Lu Ho Baba Nyonya’s website was an E-cookbook which featured a selection of traditional dishes and kuihs from true Baba and Nyonya chefs with instructions and images. The online cookbook was coupled with a fun personality quiz to understand ones 'kuih personality'.

Through a collaboration with the National Art Gallery, the second event was titled ‘Sylvia Goh: A Virtual Homage’ and aimed to honour the late Slyvia Goh. It was a virtual exhibition created and hosted on Artsteps, that presented the art and fashion paintings of Baba Nyonya culture. The virtual gallery took visitors on a 3D-tour of these pieces with explanations in tow.

“At UCSI University, we practise the praxis approach, which focuses on the application of theory to practise fulfilling our student’s potential. We are proud of our students for working on this campaign with great effort and energy, and for going to great lengths to collaborate with Baba Nyonya advocates in Malaysia. The campaign was a success and all funds collected through the webinar was donated to the Global Peace Foundation Malaysia.” added Assistant Professor Dr Vimala Govindasamy, Course Instructor of Lu Ho Baba Nyonya Campaign from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, UCSI University.

Students also incorporated the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Quality Education, Gender Equality and Reduced Inequalities through the campaign.

For further information, kindly visit Lu Ho Baba Nyonya Campaign website For further enquiries, kindly contact Dr Vimala at [email protected], or James Ly [email protected]

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