Malaysia picks international day of persons with disabilities to celebrate batik

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has declared tomorrow, Dec. 3, as Batik Day to commemorate the traditional wax printed fabric — except that the date has been taken.

Dozens of Malaysians are pressuring the prime minister to change the date, which also happens to be International Day of Persons with Disabilities, so as not to take the spotlight away from the already marginalized community. In his announcement, the prime minister said that the date was chosen to pay tribute to Malaysia’s late first lady Endon Mahmood, urging Malaysians to wear batik tomorrow in a show of support for the local crafts industry.

“I believe that ‘Batik Day’ can strengthen the local batik industry,” Ismail, 61, said in his daily address yesterday, noting that it was also a tribute to Endon, the late wife of fifth prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who had promoted Malaysia’s batik industry to the world.

“On December 3, 2003, she took an initiative to bring local batik to the world stage,” he added. According to the World Batik Council, Endon had showcased local batik designs in Europe.

However, people still believe that Batik Day should fall on another date.

“December 3 is IDPWD. Please be more considerate before announcing it. IDPWD is an important day to raise awareness about the welfare of those with disabilities. The government should focus on this. Choose another date for Batik Day,” AMANAH party member Anfaal Saari said.

“There are so many empty dates to choose from, yet he chooses December 3. Poor people with disabilities,” another user tweeted.

“Excuse me? Overlapping with Hari OKU? Seriously? SERIOUSLY? As if we aren’t marginalized enough?” Twitter user Nara Al-Shahab said yesterday.

Batik originates in Indonesia but several iterations can be found in other parts of Southeast Asia, including Malaysia.

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