lifestyle

Banking on heritage

If the allure of the famed Baba Nyonya heritage is still alien to you, check out the Melaka branch of the OCBC Bank, especially on a Wednesday.

As you step into the 5-storey shophouse in Taman Kota Laksamana, be prepared to be greeted by a cheerful myriad of colours that tell of the beautiful culture and tradition of the Peranakans.

This unique Peranakan showcase goes beyond the typical dressing of walls.

Taking centre stage in the banking hall is a mural that depicts elements of the Peranakan culture in Melaka over the centuries.

For the highlight, come every working Wednesday, when the entire 64-strong OCBC team members don their Baba Nyonya outfits – kebayas for the women and batik shirts paired with black slacks for the men.

The Cultural Wednesdays for the branch started last month, initiated by head of consumer financial services of OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Bhd, Anne Leh.

The embrace of the Baba Nyonya culture in Melaka, she tells EdgeProp Malaysia, symbolises the bank’s oneness with the local community and its appreciation of the local culture.

Having relocated from Dataran Pahlawan in Dec 2020, it is also in sync with the heritage theme of the new branch premises.

“The Baba Nyonya link to Melaka and the OCBC Melaka branch is reflective of OCBC’s deep roots with the local community,” she says.

The uniforms were not bought off-shelf. For authenticity, they have commissioned a local boutique in Melaka that specialises in the tailoring of traditional Baba Nyonya attire.

“This is a sign of OCBC’s continuous support of local businesses. Additionally, sourcing the clothings from a local tailor facilitates convenient fitting and alterations,” adds Leh.

For Abby Tay Poh Gaik, a staff member of Baba Nyonya lineage, she is proud to be able to live out the Peranakan traditions at her place of work.

“It is a beautiful way to preserve Melaka’s rich heritage as the younger generation may not be familiar with it,” adds Kiang Yen Nee, another staff member of Baba Nyonya descent

“We are proud of our association with Melaka, as one of our earliest branches in the country was set up here in 1917. Although the bank has evolved and progressed much since its establishment in Melaka in 1917, we have not forgotten our roots,” Leh adds.

OCBC Melaka branch is not the only one that showcases culture. Leh says the revamped Penang Premier Centre in George Town branch has retained much of the building’s original structure while applying the concept of old- meets-new.

The Penang Premier Centre’s OCBC has also embraced Cultural Wednesdays from last month.

Lest you forget the Baba Nyonya roots

The colourful mural at the banking hall of the OCBC Bank Melaka branch in Taman Kota Laksamana is a definite attention-grabber.

With the use of images and rich hues, the tradition of the Peranakan heritage is brought to life.

Within the wall art is a woman working on a manik piece, a tapestry made from beads for embroidered shoes – a unique craft of the Baba Nyonya community that is slowly diminishing with time.

Next to the bibik is a Malay-style kampung house, which represents the beginnings of OCBC Melaka.

From the kampung house, it shows the transition into the iconic Baba Nyonya building architecture, a common sight in Melaka, and next to that is the modern-day OCBC Bank Melaka branch.

Head of consumer financial services of OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Bhd, Anne Leh, says the transition from the kampung house to the iconic Baba Nyonya building facade and then to the OCBC Bank today signifies the seamless journey of OCBC alongside its embrace of technology without forgetting its humble beginnings.

This story first appeared in the EdgeProp.my E-weekly on June 11, 2021. You can access back issues here.

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