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AirAsia helps endangered ASEAN art form to soar internationally

AirAsia is helping Cambodian artists troupe to make its international debut with the support of AirAsia Asean Corporate Responsibility initiative.

SEPANG– AirAsia is marking its latest ASEAN-level Corporate Responsibility sponsorship by showcasing the endangered Cambodian art form of Sbaek Thom or the Cambodian large shadow puppet theatre for the first time in Malaysia.

In support of Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), a non-profit organisation dedicated to reviving endangered Cambodian art forms, AirAsia made it possible for the Wat Bo Troup from Siem Reap to perform to an international audience through its participation at Penang’s George Town Festival 2012 (GTF2012) on 7 July 2012.

“This sponsorship correlates with AirAsia’s new regional strategy. We see our extensive route network as sky bridges linking cities, communities and cultures. We want to help bring ASEAN together as one, where values and cultures are shared, appreciated and respected together as a community,” said Tony Fernandes, AirAsia ASEAN Group CEO.

“There is also great significance in introducing the Cambodian shadow puppet theatre in Malaysia. This is the year of Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN and the rich Khmer culture can be traced back as the source of many of the cultural art forms across Southeast Asia,” he added.

The Wat Bo Sbaek Thom troupe comprises 16 performers aged between 18 and 39. For all troupe members, this will be their first flying experience, beginning their journey with AirAsia in Siem Reap before arriving at Penang via Kuala Lumpur.

Apart from return flights and complimentary baggage allowance, AirAsia also hosted the artists group through its affiliate Tune Hotels while on transit overnight in Kuala Lumpur.

Sbaek Thom, a highly refined form of shadow theatre, is one of the oldest performance styles in Cambodia. Sbaek Thom literally means ‘large leather’ and is a type of dance-drama in which dancers’ movements are extensions of the puppets’ action. All Sbaek Thom performances are episodes from the epic tale of Reamker (Ramayana). In 2005, Sbaek Thom was declared a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) is a program of the Marion Institute, a non-profit organization based in Cambodia. Its mission is to create a sustainable environment where Cambodian arts can empower and transform individuals and communities. CLA was founded in 1998 by Arn Chorn-Pond, genocide survivor and internationally acclaimed human rights spokesperson.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.