‘Placing National Museum, National Archives, National Library under National Unity Ministry is illogical’

The arts and culture component in governance has always been accorded the lowest priority, and never been given its own ministry.

Initially, it was combined with the Youth and Sports Ministry, and later, the Tourism Ministry. But the current government has muted its presence in the Tourism Ministry and only acknowledged it as an afterthought.

What’s more, three of the arts and culture components, namely, the national museum, archives, and the library, have been excised and transferred to the National Unity Ministry, as announced by its minister, Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang, recently.

One wonders the rationale for such a move because these three departments are integral to arts and culture.

The museum is essential in educating and creating awareness of our cultural heritage, housing mainly the tangible heritage, such as weaponry, jewellery, pottery, musical instruments, as well as glimpses of the intangibles, through dioramas depicting makyong or wayang kulit performances.

Museums promote our cultural heritage through exhibitions, publications, and performances.

All over the world, museums are a significant part of the Ministry of Culture. For example, the world-famous art museum, the Louvre, is an essential or indispensable component of Le Ministre du Culture, as are the other public museums in France, and similar to the British Museum in London and the Tokapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkiye.

An archive is a repository of historical records or materials in any medium, of all aspects that pertain to the administration of the nation, such as commercial, legal, defence, arts, and culture.

In some countries, the archive is part of the National Library, as in the case of The Library of Congress in the United States.

Besides housing books, periodicals on numerous subjects from all over the world, it is also a repository of Congressional records and documents.

There is a close affinity between the library, archive, and the museum.

For example, prior to 1973, the National Library of Great Britain was initially part of the British Museum. But it has since expanded and established its own entity as the British Library.

The three entities of museum, archive, and library, are interlinked as the repository of knowledge of human endeavour and social-cultural experience.

Thus, it is logical that these three entities remain with the Tourism, Arts, and Culture Ministry. It makes no sense to shift them to the National Unity Ministry.

It would be out of sync for these three entities to be part of the National Unity Ministry, whose role is vague and nebulous.

In fact, one wonders about the need for a National Unity Ministry, as it has not achieved much.

It failed in its efforts to integrate West and East Malaysia, and to foster inter-faith and inter-cultural interactions.

On the contrary, racial and religious tensions have escalated, as evidenced in the run-up to GE15.

The ministry’s function to engender unity and inter-cultural interaction has indirectly been implemented by other ministries, such as the Education, Women, Community and Family Development, Youth and Sports, and Tourism, Arts, and Culture ministries.

The logical step is to return the national museum, archives, and library to their original, rightful place, which is the Tourism, Arts, and Culture Ministry.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.