The prime minister noted that the creative industry is a thriving sector in Malaysia with the existence of 345 MSC Malaysia status companies under the Creative Content and Technology cluster, out of a total of 2,986 active MSC Malaysian companies as of March 31, 2019.
"In 2018, the MSC Malaysia status companies under this cluster recorded sales of RM7.69 billion with export value of RM1.4 billion and provided 11,471 job opportunities," he said in his speech at the 15th National Academy of Arts Culture and Heritage (Aswara) Convocation Ceremony here today.
Dr Mahathir believes ASWARA, with its variety of faculties, can provide high quality creative industry content and products for local and international markets.
Meanwhile, the prime minister stressed Malaysia cannot lose its identity, which was shaped through its cultural and artistic diversity.
"We need to balance physical and material progress with the development of arts and culture, because it is only in this way that we can strengthen the civilisation of the nation," he said.
He further noted that Malaysian culture, like the culture of other countries, is constantly changing due to external influences, developments in communication, technology and others.
"In this regard, arts and culture education is very important, because we do not want to experience cultural degradation and poverty," Dr Mahathir said, adding that the decline would erode values vital for the survival of the nation.
“If arts and culture are not championed, society will no longer understand the functions and use of the core culture which becomes (our) identity, and instead they will know more of foreign cultures. With this, the noble values we inherited will also disappear,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the rich Malaysian culture should not just be expanded within the country but should also be promoted on the global stage, while the people should also learn the cultures of other communities.
He said it is time for the government and Malaysians to pay attention to the country’s arts and culture which formed the pillar of racial identity.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali were awarded an honorary Doctorate in Creative Arts in conjunction with the Aswara convocation. The award has just been introduced by the institution.
“This award is very meaningful to us. But what is more important is that this award has placed arts and culture as a subject which should be given attention.
"Culture in particular can determine the success or otherwise of a race, and indeed an individual,” said Dr Mahathir, adding that he and his wife were honoured to be the first recipients of the award.