#KitaSama: Preserving history - The tale of Eddin Khoo

#KitaSama: Preserving history - The tale of Eddin Khoo
Eddin Khoo, the cultural preservationist is also a poet, writer, translator and journalist.
KUALA LUMPUR: Eddin Khoo Bu-Eng needs no introduction. A perfect epitome of how an undying passion for culture transcends race or religion in Malaysia -- Eddin

Born into an eclectically colourful family on October 14, 1969, Khoo is the eldest of three sons of a Baba Chinese father and mother of Sri Lankan Tamil descent.

Eddin's father is none other than the prominent historian and nationalist, Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim, who helped write the 'Rukun Negara' after the May 13, 1969 racial clashes.

Eddin Khoo baby
Eddin with his mother Rathi and father, Khoo Kay Kim - Photo courtesy of Eddin Khoo
 
In an exclusive interview with Astro AWANI, Eddin admits that his father was absent from his life growing up as a child and he was raised by his Malay nanny, Rahmah.

Rahmah
Eddin's Malay Nanny, Rahmah was a big influence during his growing years  - Photo courtesy of Eddin Khoo
 

His interest in the Malay arts intensified when he acquired his first job as a journalist at the Sunday Star two decades ago. His work led him to the culturally-rich state of Kelantan where he dedicated himself to work championing the cultural scene there.
A Hindu by faith, Eddin studied Islamic thought in University which led him to question PAS banning Wayang Kulit in the 1990s.

wayang kulit
From 'Storm Clouds - Wayang Kulit in Photography'  fundraising exhibition for PUSAKA by Eddin Khoo

“I started in Kelantan because the PAS government did me a big favour by choosing to proscribe all these traditions, and as such make it a political issue,” he said, cheekily.

“I felt a terrible sense of obligation to the people I worked with, some of the great masters of makyong, menorah, dikir, main puteri and wayang kulit”  said the prolific writer.

In 2002, Eddin founded Pusaka, a non-governmental organisation “dedicated to supporting the viability of traditional Malaysian art forms”.

He attributed the setup of the organization to wayang kulit practitioner Dalang Abdullah Ibrahim, or famously known as Dollah Baju Merah who felt Eddin’s work needed to be formalised for future generations.

Eddin
Eddin Khoo with the wayang kulit Dalang's in Kelantan - Photo courtesy of Eddin Khoo
 
In recognition of his work, Eddin was selected as one of Digi telecommunications Amazing Malaysians in 2006 and as of one of the Asians of the Year 2006 by Channel News Asia, Singapore.

The cultural preservationist is also a contributor of various international newspapers, journals and magazines.

Khoo
Eddin with his collection of books and music at his office apartment in Bangsar - Photo courtesy of Eddin Khoo

An avid lover of the written word, he is also responsible in a different portfolio -- translating important books in the literary world into Malay through his publishing house, Kala.

Khoo is a true patron of the arts and a shining beacon that culture transcends colour, race and religion.

His motto: What comes to your hand to be done, do with full strength and fear not. –The Goddess Kali