I grew up in a sleepy town on the border of Negri Sembilan and Malacca. While I live in Kuala Lumpur now, I still return on frequent visits to my hometown, which is filled with memories of my childhood. Many of these memories are of food and family traditions and the traditions of the Hopo Hakka in my town.

I have shared many of these with my own family, and we continue to observe and keep these traditions. When I joined the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Hopo Association about 15 years ago, I realised that I wanted to contribute to keeping our Hopo culture and traditions alive, and pass them on to future generations.

The Hopo Cultural Museum’s mural of how many early Hopo Hakkas made their living once they arrived in the Malay Peninsula. Clockwise from top right: rubber tapping, carpentry, tin panning and tin mining.

In June this year, the first step of that dream became reality, when we launched the Hopo Cultural Museum under the auspices of the Hopo Cultural Foundation. Located on the first floor of Wisma Hopo in Changkat Thamby Dollah, Kuala Lumpur, the museum exhibits capture many aspects of the lives of early Hopo Hakka diaspora.

The Hopo Cultural Museum logo is made up of three elements central to Hopo culture and tradition: the three mountains that represent the Three Deities, the distinctive and unique Hopo Lion head, and the pestle and mortar for making Lui Cha, a vegetarian meal of rice, herbs and ground tea.

It shows the journey made by the first Hopo Hakkas to Borneo and the Malay Peninsula, how they made their living in those early days and their cultural practices. Today, there are Hopo in various parts of Malaysia. In Johor, the biggest community is found in Kulai. In the central region, it is in Kuala Kuang, about 16km away from Ipoh. Across the South China Sea, the largest Hopo community is in Kuching, Sarawak. The Hopo presence in Sarawak is so large that the dialect is a lingua franca, and spoken by the other clans.

Renovations began in March 2015, and was completed in July the same year. The museum occupies 2,488 square feet, and was launched on 19 June 2016.

Exhibits at the Hopo Cultural Museum include slices of life as experienced by the early Hopo Hakkas, incorporated into the Audio-Visual Room

Creating the Museum is not the only objective of the Foundation. Our original purpose was to publish the history of the Hopo in Malaysia, and we have commissioned a writer to research and produce a three-volume book. Work on this has progress, and we hope to launch this book later next year.

I’m sure I speak for the Management Committee and its advisors in thanking everyone including and all of Malaysia’s Hopo Associations in all their contributions towards achieving a major goal in preserving our shared history and culture for the future.

More importantly, we could not have done it without the generosity of the Hopo themselves. In total, RM1.4 million was raised for the Hopo Cultural Foundation during a fund-raising dinner held in SRJK (C) Sentul, Kuala Lumpur. Of this, RM805,000 was raised from eight key donors, including myself.

I believe firmly that to see and touch is better than to just hear. We hope the Museum will contribute in this, helping to keep our culture and traditions alive. We hope you will visit the Hopo Cultural Museum and enjoy learning about the Hopo Hakkas of Malaysia.

The Museum is open from 9am to 4pm on weekdays. Weekend visits can be arranged by appointment.

Hopo Cultural Museum

Address: 65 & 67, 1st Floor, Wisma Hopo, Changkat Thambi Dollah, Off Jalan Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Telephone: 03-2148 6567
Fax : 03-21426567

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