KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 4): No country can claim to be a civilised nation without having its own cultural values, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“As such, when we aspire to achieve Vision 2020 and increase the national revenue without having our own culture, we cannot claim to have become a civilised nation,” he said when opening the 60th anniversary celebration of the National Art Gallery tonight.
Also present were his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi besides other local and foreign VIPs as well as players in the arts and tourism industry.
The Prime Minister said the civilisation of a nation could be raised by improving the level of culture in a particular community.
He cited Malaysia where the various races including the Orang Asli and other communities had produced various types of cultures which portrayed the beauty of the country through the art works produced.
The Prime Minister said cultural values were important and became the yardstick on the level of civilisation the nation had achieved and it should be translated into art works to be appreciated by everyone.
“Carvings, art works were ways of showing the beauty of the environment not only through our own eyes but also those of the cultural activists, industry players and sculptors.
"They can translate through their art works and we should be proud and happy looking at the beauty of the environment.
“We cannot look at it from our own perspective but they can. This is the advantage of artists to our community because sometimes we forget to appreciate them,”he said.
With regard to local sculptors, he said this group should be appreciated and respected because they had their unique talents although they differed from the sculptors of other nations.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir urged members of the public to give their support to the arts industry by buying the products of local sculptors which could be turned into assets.
“The longer you keep them, the higher their values rise compared to keeping motors or cars,”he said.
Dr Mahathir and his wife had the opportunity to spend time to visit the exhibitions held by the organisers and they were invited to have their photographs taken with members of the public who had filled up the art gallery.
The Art Gallery was set up on Aug 27, 1958 by the first Prime Minister Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.