The Galeria Perdana or the Perdana Gallery is located at Kilim, about 11 km from Langkawi’s main town of Kuah.
It is a gallery exhibiting all the souvenirs that the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Mahathir Mohamed and his wife Tun Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, received from foreign and local dignitaries as well as organizations during his tenure as the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
The exhibiting of these souvenirs that Tun Mahathir and his wife Tun Siti Hasmah received is in line with his opinion that all the souvenirs he received as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, belongs to the country and its people and hence, the gallery.
More than 9,000 souvenirs were received by Tun Mahathir during his time as Prime Minister, and from these 9,000 plus souvenirs, only 2,000 are exhibited at any one time.
Hence, a regular visitor to the gallery will, it is safe to assume, view different souvenirs during different visits.
There is an entrance fee to enter the gallery. In ringgit terms, it ranges from RM10 to RM2, equivalent to USD 3 to less than USD1.
Some may grouse and balk at the thought of paying an entrance fee to enter the Galeria Perdana. I myself witnessed one such dispute when we were there to view the exhibits. But then again, if one is not willing to pay, then by all means, show your displeasure by not entering the gallery.
But when registering your displeasure, it is worth noting that there are costs involved in maintaining such a gallery. And it is a fine and well maintained gallery indeed.
The gallery itself is made up of three separate blocks, all interconnected and designed to reflect the local architecture. Most of the exhibits are inside the gallery but there is on particular exhibit, a souvenir from Zimbabwe.
It’s a piece of sculpture by one Gerald Takawira, a famous sculptor from a family of internationally renowned sculptors, and who is known for his ability to work the Leopard stone, one of the hardest in the world.
The piece of sculpture is named ‘Windows of Opportunity’ and it stands at 3 metres tall and is located next to the main entrance to Galeria Perdana. It is easy enough to miss if you are not made aware of its presence. But once noted, it does exude a certain presence.
The exhibits on show that were sighted were reflective of some of Tun Mahathir’s pursuits when he was Prime Minister of Malaysia eg automobiles (from F1 to environment friendly cars to specialised vehicles.
There are also exhibits of submarines (miniature scaled down versions of course) as well as ships. One can only hazard a guess that all these souvenirs of submarines must have been given during that time when Malaysia was looking into acquiring submarines to add to the Royal Malaysian Navy’s fleet.
And then there are also exhibits from countries which benefitted from his Look East Policy eg Japan and Korea. The Look East Policy, from my point of view, was, at times, a misunderstood policy. Even by members of the Civil Services themselves.
During my stint with the Civil Service, the Look East Policy was always conveyed as an attempt for Malaysians to have a balanced view of East and West as well as convey the message that not all the advanced countries are in the West. And if Japan and later, Korea could do it, why a simple country like Malaysia, no less ambitious but of course, could not achieve what Japan and Korea had.
Anyways, the souvenirs from both Japan and Korea were quite eye-catching, ranging from the Samurai doll to the silver vases presented by the Emperor of Japan himself.
There were also souvenirs that were not work related. Many paintings and Khat works (works based to Arabic lettering) were also on display. Also on display were miniaturised replicas of traditional houses as well as houses of worship. So fine were the workmanship that one cannot help but admire the workman’s patience and craftmanship.
The Galeria Perdana is worthy of a spot on that places-to-visit list for Langkawi. The fees are not exorbitant at all and it is educational as well. To be able to view all those souvenirs given by foreign dignitaries can give you an idea of the standing that Tun Mahathir, as Prime Minister of Malaysia, commanded on the international stage as well as the many areas that Tun himself had tried to push and guide Malaysia to.
Some may view it as a museum of sorts but for some, especially the young generation, it will a source of inspiration for what can be achieved and what has yet to be achieved.
Date : 21 August 2014