Exhibit early history of Malay literature

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KUCHING: Sarawak Museum should provide space to exhibit the early history of Malay literature in Sarawak and other materials relating to the development of literature in the country.

Senior fellow of the Malaysian Council of Professors Dr Jeniri Amir cited the novel, Hikayat Panglima Nikosa (HPN) which could be analysed through different perspectives and displayed.

“HPN is a Malay novel written by Ahmad Shawal Abdul Hamid on June 30, 1876. It is believed to be the first published in the country and also in the world.

“It displays the social reality of the community in Sarawak in the last quarter of the 19th century at Bukit Persinggahan near Kampung Boyan.

“HPN needs to be analysed more widely using various theories and disciplines of knowledge including rhetoric, language, local dialects, agriculture, education, religion, leadership and planning.

“A more in-depth study should also be done on the author’s biography, including his background, character, role and contribution,” he said during a Bicara Pusaka Bangsa Series 2/2021 which discussed the novel virtually today.

According to Jeniri, who is also a panel at the show, HPN should be published in a more prestigious form in accordance with its position as a novel that is important in terms of the history of the development of novels and literature in the country.

“In fact, a special seminar should be held to discuss the greatness of Ahmad Shawal and HPN in 2026 in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the publication of the book,” he pointed out.

Thus, in order to realise the proposal, he hoped the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah would consider to raise the Malay literature and other literary references.

He noted that the main character of Panglima Nikosa was a superior leader, brave, far-sighted and wise.

“This novel is full of positive values ​​and messages and thoughts that are still relevant until today.

“It is also full of ideas by the author, an effort to look at modern Malay and prove the historical development of Malay civilisation in the late 19th century,” he said.

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