KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 — National handicraft development body Kraftangan Malaysia has today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with three travel groups in its bid to encourage local Muslim pilgrims to wear batik during their trips.
In an announcement, it said the three groups are the Association of Umrah and Hajj Travel Agents (Papuh), the Bumiputera Travel and Tour Agents Association of Malaysia (Bumitra) and the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta).
“This is an effort to further promote the wear of Malaysian batik by umrah pilgrims following the earlier announcement whereby civil servants are required to wear Malaysian batik on Thursdays.
“The effort of this awareness campaign has actually helped the industry grow,” Kraftangan Malaysia deputy director-general (development) Abdul Halim Ali said when met by reporters at its headquarters here.
Umrah refers to the optional minor pilgrimages taken by Muslims to Mecca at any time of the year, in contrast with the obligatory Haj.
During umrah, Muslims would usually wear simple and uniform attire called “ihram clothing” such as white sheets to signify humility. Abdul Halim said under this deal, umrah and Haj travel agents can incorporate batik wear in the travel kit, and can be worn by pilgrims when they are not in the “ihram clothing”.
“So when they go for outbound umrah programmes, they will wear the batik prints. This is one way to showcase the Malaysian batik abroad,” he said.
According to Halim, apart from encouraging umrah pilgrims, the MoU will also see the three groups encourage their staff members to don Malaysian batik at work.
He added that the circular of donning batik wear for civil servants was actually not something new, as since 1985 this was an encouraged practice, except now it has become official.
“There are new techniques adopted now to procure batik, moving away from the traditional wax and wax dye which are said to be harmful to the environment. These new techniques have also sped up the production process.
“At the same time, when we talk about corporate wear, wearing batik actually does help save energy, because of its cooling material, there will be less use of air-conditioning at the office, since you don’t have to wear thick blazers all the time,” he said.
He said as of August 2023, there was an uptick of batik entrepreneurs in the country to 815, of which 51 per cent are women.
“The 815 batik makers are included in the 2,080 textile entrepreneurs in the country,” Abdul Halim said.
Last month, Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad announced that civil servants can now wear batik clothing during the whole work week and not just on Thursdays.
He said the Cabinet had agreed to the move in view of the climate and the need for energy efficiency in government offices.
He also said that the recommendation to change the dress code etiquette will also be extended to all members of the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara.