Patriotism in the form of street art right here in Kota Kinabalu

Local artists Harold Egn Eswar (right) and Kwan Thung Seng are among those commissioned to bring some patriotic spirit to the city's walls with a street art project #tanahairku. ― Pictures by Julia Chan
Local artists Harold Egn Eswar (right) and Kwan Thung Seng are among those commissioned to bring some patriotic spirit to the city's walls with a street art project #tanahairku. ― Pictures by Julia Chan

Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates.


KOTA KINABALU, Sept 10 ― Street art has officially arrived in Kota Kinabalu with street artists seen working on two buildings in the city centre.

They have been working round-the-clock on the Sabah-themed murals ― including the ubiquitous “bah” which takes the place of “lah” ― to be in time for Malaysia Day which falls on September 16.

Street art is not a common sight here despite its popularity in many cities, but the people of Kota Kinabalu seem to be embracing the art form as is evident from the honks of passing motorists and the curious onlookers who stop to take photos and ask questions.

The artists from the Cracko Art Group were commissioned by Petronas to do two large-scale murals on the walls of the buildings as part of their #tanahairku patriotism campaign in conjunction with Malaysia Day.

The national and state flags, local Rungus motifs, a Kadazandusun man wearing traditional headgear, local musical instruments and padi fields are all part of the murals.

“The ‘B’ in BAH also stands for ‘bagi-bagi’, or the spirit of sharing, the ‘A’ stands for art scene, and the ‘H’ represents Sabah’s heritage,” said graphic designer Lydiana [email protected] who is working on the three-storey wall of Wisma Intiutama along Jalan KK Bypass.

Local street artists commissioned to work on Wisma Sabah and Wisma Intiutama.
Local street artists commissioned to work on Wisma Sabah and Wisma Intiutama.

Artistis Crig Roynno [email protected] and Suparno [email protected] are working with her on that piece while Harold Egn Eswar, Kwan Thung Seng and Anddy Romeo Dulait work on Wisma Sabah.

The other mural, taking up the entire outer façade of Wisma Sabah, is a depiction of the Kadazan God’s daughter, Huminodun, the inspiration for the Harvest Festival beauty queen.

Inspired by the colours of the Malaysian and Sabah flag, Harold said that the mural is to instill a sense of patriotic pride and unity.

“That is the idea behind this whole campaign, to connect the country and instill patriotic sentiments among the people,” said Harold, an architect by training.

The team’s working schedule has been interrupted by sporadic heavy downpour, causing them to work late into the night, and start before sunrise.

A massive mural of Sabah's ubiquitous ‘bah’ has already stolen the local residents' hearts.
A massive mural of Sabah's ubiquitous ‘bah’ has already stolen the local residents' hearts.

Petronas’s #tanahairku 3.0 is now in its third year, spreading out from Kuala Lumpur to Johor, Sabah and Sarawak this year.

Its Group Strategic Communications senior general manager Liz Kamaruddin said that they have chosen a different approach to the usual social message video produced for previous Merdeka celebrations. Instead Petronas has opted to highlight street artists who are often stigmatised as vandals.

“Petronas wanted to provide them with a licensed area and a valid reason to paint on buildings,” she said.

The completed murals will be officially unveiled on Saturday.

Related Articles