Borneoans in Penang

loading Colourful traditional costumes at the annual Gawai and Keamatan Festival held at Fort Cornwallis in May.

Migrants from Borneo – home to over 60 proud ethnic groups – make an exciting mark on Penang.

Leaving home is painful but unavoidable for many: the unbearable longing for familiar comforts both tangible and intangible, the rhythmic music of the sape’, the sounds of the forest, the songs of the people and the hypnotic dances of celebration.

But leaving home can also mean forging a path towards new opportunities. Many come to Penang to build a home away from home, and unwittingly provide local people with a sampling of their rich and vibrant cultures.

Far from the Eyes, but Close to the Heart

Penang is not entirely physically dissimilar to Borneo. Both are islands, Penang’s beaches are reminiscent of Manukan’s and Sipadan’s, and its pre-war buildings bring back memories of strolling down Main Bazaar in Kuching.

But the homesickness remains. To alleviate this, Borneoans in Penang, most of whom are students and civil servants (such as nurses, teachers and military members), meet often to celebrate their cultures.

To read the rest of the article and to access our e-Archive, subscribe to us for RM150 a year.

Related Articles

Apr 2010

Penang blueprint

SERI executive director Liew Chin Tong introduces the Penang Blueprint Roundtable Series.

Jan 2016

Fusing modern skills with traditional crafts

Art festival Urban Xchange 2015 brought together young artists and traditional handicraft masters to re-imagine Penang’s heritage.

Aug 2014

What is the state of freedom of religion in Malaysia?

The boundaries governing legal, political and religious matters are unclear to many. Law professor Dr Azmi Sharom sheds some light on the subject.

Oct 2015

Going Dutch: Lessons in urban amenity from Amsterdam

Holland's capital balances the competing needs of tourists and locals.