Street Art Project Brings New Charms To Labuan’s Old Streets

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Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, and Rozman Isli along with other officials at the launch of the street art in Labuan on Sunday.

LABUAN: Local and peninsular-based artists have successfully revitalized Labuan’s old buildings, and brought these buildings back to life with an artistic facelift, as they turned them into giant murals.

At least 13 murals and a 3D (three-dimension) painting were created by five artists from Kuala Lumpur and five from Labuan and Sabah to adorn the exterior walls of buildings to convey various messages.

Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik who witnessed the completion of the final touch-up on the paintings today said the street art and ‘Arca kitar semula’ (upcycle) projects were fully sponsored by his ministry and was coordinated by the National Art Gallery (BSN) ahead of Visit Malaysia 2020.

“These artists have revitalized the old buildings with their dazzling painting skills…they helped turned these buildings that look boring, and beautify them with gorgeous murals.

“Not only are these paintings a massive undertaking, but they have unparalleled level of visual nuance with breathtaking detail by creating a 3D illusion,” he said at the closing of the Mural and “Arca Awam’ with Community 2019 project here today.

Labuan MP Rozman Isli with Ah Ming.

Among the popular murals created were the portrait of a 62-year-old humble-looking Chinese man, popular known as Uncle Ah Ming who inherited his late father’s 52-year-old ‘Cincau drink’ business and Labuan-born Malaysian footballer Datuk Hassan Sani.

Other mural was the blue marlin which has become the identity of Labuan, as an island popular for deep-sea fishing.

All the murals were portrayed along the streets of Lorong Tanjung Pasir, Jalan Utama Bandar Labuan and Terminal Labuan.

“We spent about RM80, 000 for this project and we hope it could help beautify the island as we promote Visit Malaysia 2020.

“Sometimes these old paintings, even if they are faded after decades, can be some of the most memorable landmarks in the town, they will become part of what to remember about growing up in a place, and I think they are worth preserving even when they have faded…they have a charm that cannot be recreated,” he said.

Bakhtiar said the government was encouraging private sectors to sponsor the project as part of the building beautification programme, and they are eligible for tax deduction incentive of up to RM700,000 for the current annual assessment.

“This project will help popularise Labuan through social media platforms, and I hope more people will keep sharing and posting the murals on their walls like in Facebook, Tweeter or Instagram,” he said.

Member of Parliament for Labuan Datuk Rozman Isli said these murals and so-called ‘ghost signs’ stand as silent reminders of the life cycle of the town throughout Labuan…visitors will strain their necks and notice them immediately and so will the townsfolk.

“This project which has transformed the look of the old buildings will help our tourism product and boost local economic activities,” he said.