Nurul Izzah moots letting male MPs wear batik in Dewan Rakyat

Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar is pictured at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur October 30, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar is pictured at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur October 30, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar’s proposal to allow male MPs to wear batik shirts in the Lower House was met with bipartisan support and approval.

The PKR lawmaker made her suggestion during Question Time today, pointing out that including batik among approved attire in the Dewan Rakyat could help promote the industry.

“There are two aspects that we need to put forward. The first is awareness and the second is competitive pricing. On awareness, when (Indonesian) President Jokowi (Joko Widodo) announced his Cabinet line up, they were all wearing Indonesian batik.

“But we are faced with Dewan Rakyat regulations that do not let male MPs wear Malaysian batik. I hope this can be addressed because this is the sort of awareness that can help our batik industry,” said Nurul Izzah.

Her suggestion was immediately supported by two Barisan Nasional lawmakers: Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan and Jelebu MP Datuk Jalaludin Alias.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik took the suggestion positively as it can generate more awareness and be able to promote the batik industry.

“We accept your suggestion even though we have not received a positive answer (from the Dewan Rakyat Speaker),” said Muhammad Bakhtiar.

Rembau MP (BN) Khairy Jalamuddin also supported Nurul Izzah’s suggestion and urged the Speaker to approve, arguing that Singapore’s Parliament has also stopped being so rigid when it comes to approved attire.

“I support Permatang Pauh’s proposal and request that the Speaker approves this suggestion that we wear batik in the Dewan Rakyat. Even the Singaporean Parliament has relaxed its dress code because we are here to speak based on content and not on form.

“Coming to my question, the cost of Malaysian batik is said to be higher than Indonesian batik. How will the ministry lower its cost because it affects small time entrepreneurs especially on the East Coast?” Khairy asked.

Muhammad Bakhtiar explained that the cheap batik found in the country was not actually batik, but shirts printed with a batik motif.

Furthermore, he added that price depended on the material used and noted that it took 17 artisans to produce a single batik print.

Among the pricier material include silk batik shirts, when compared to Indonesia’s cotton batik prints.

Replying to Kuala Kangsar BN (MP) Datin Mastura Mohd Yazid’s question on patenting local batik, the deputy minister said Kraftangan Malaysia is working together with MyIPO on protecting local talents.

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