KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Malaysia is changing. Some would say not for the better and bemoan the economy, the traffic, or any manner of grouse. There will always be something to complain about. Perhaps it’s better — though harder for some — to celebrate what is good about our country, to celebrate our diversity rather than our differences.

One way we can come together is to the capital’s Medan Pasar this Saturday (March 19) for a day filled with festivities celebrating the various cultures of South-east Asia, ranging from the Melanau, Peranakan, Thai, Nepalese, Vietnamese, the Filipinos and Indonesians.

Cleverly called SAMA-SAMA (the Malay word for “together”), the event organised by Think City and DBKL in partnership with labDNA and sponsored by Citi Foundation will include a food bazaar, community dances and cultural performances, as well as craft and cooking workshops.

According to Sarah Amer of labDNA, the impetus for the SAMA-SAMA event is to introduce a different programmeming in Medan Pasar. She says, “Medan Pasar is a public square which has been underutilised in Kuala Lumpur. Prior to this we have hosted Buy Nothing Day, celebrated at the last Saturday of every month where the public consumer awareness and Malam Wayang, with a wayang kulit troupe from Machang, Kelantan to celebrate the new year.”

Ultimately, SAMA-SAMA revolves around a theme of inclusivity and celebrating diversity. Sarah says, “So from young to old, the curious and the intrigued, we’re expecting everybody from locals to tourists who drop by.”

This project to redesign the use of an underutilised public space makes good use of labDNA’s core strengths. A design firm, labDNA focuses on “placemaking”, which is a term used to describe social architecture. 

Sarah explains, “In placemaking, people are inspired to re-imagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. My colleagues design the spaces, essentially public areas and certain commercial developments, while I work with members of the community — cultural performers, NGOs and art practitioners — to give them an avenue to engage with the public.”

One accessible way labDNA is achieving this objective is through the free cooking workshops during SAMA-SAMA. Sarah says, “The workshop conductors are mainly practitioners within their community who are passionate about sharing their knowledge of their culture with the public. These are people who are running great initiatives, such as Garden To Table, to safeguards of heritage dishes such as Sarang Cookery’s Kerabu Bok Mee workshop which is a Peranakan rarity.”

Sounds like a perfect opportunity this weekend to discover how our country share more similarities than differences with our neighbours — through our foods and our culture. It’s time we celebrate our community of communities and celebrate the beautiful diversity within. Let’s do this together, or to use that perfect phrase — “sama-sama.”


Saturday, 19th March 2016, 11am to 9pm

Dataran Medan Pasar, Jalan Lebuh Pasar, Kuala Lumpur

To reserve a seat for the free food workshops, please email [email protected]