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The First in South East Asia: Malaysia Becomes New Home for Abay Centre For Kazakh Literature & Culture

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KUALA LUMPUR – 12 November : In order to mark the 175th anniversary of the great Kazakh poet and philosopher Abay Qunanbaiuly, on October 13, 2020, the Abay Centre of Kazakh Literature and Culture was opened at the National Library of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (PNM).

The purpose of the Abay Centre is to familiarize foreign audiences with the rich literature, historical and cultural heritage of Kazakhstan. Within the framework of the event, the presentation of the Abay’s book «Words of Wisdom» was also held, which was translated for the first time into the Malay language and published by the efforts of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Malaysia. This book – «Buku Kata Kata» consists of philosophic treatise and collection of poems where Abay encourages people to embrace education, literacy and good moral character in order to escape poverty, enslavement and corruption.

Other books and works of Kazakh literature, as well as the national musical instrument «dombyra» were donated to the Centre.

In welcoming speeches during the opening ceremony of the Abay Centre of Kazakh Literature and Culture, Director-General of the National Library of Malaysia Maizan Ismail and Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan Bolat Imanbayev noted the uniqueness of the Centre and its importance in strengthening bilateral cooperation, rapprochement of peoples and cultural exchange between both countries.

As part of the opening ceremony of the Centre, parties agreed that after the end of quarantine restrictive measures in Malaysia, various joint exhibitions and cultural events will be hosted on the basis of the Abay Centre.

Director-General of the National Library of Malaysia Maizan Ismail expressed her honor and pride that Kazakhstan choses the National Library of Malaysia to showcase the works of the renowned Kazakh author.

“Launching the Abay Centre of Kazakh Literature and Culture is one of the milestones in our flourishing relations”.

“National Library of Malaysia believes the opening of the Abay Centre of Kazakh Literature and Culture will provide an opportunity for Malaysians to explore, understand and appreciate the vibrant culture and rich heritage of Kazakhstan and its people.” She added.

The center will feature many resources from high quality books to audio visual, music instruments, postcard, posters etc. and all are available for users to access.

Besides that, Malaysian readers and researchers will have access to the classical Kazakhstan literature, philosophy, humanities and social sciences collections that reflect the wealth and diversity of Kazakhstan thought and culture.

Director-General of the National Library of Malaysia said that Embassy of Kazakhstan has widely contributed to the knowledge and book industry in Malaysia.

“They have translated many of their masterpieces into Malay language to share the knowledge and the uniqueness of their literature and heritage worldwide. They also contribute to spur the growth of writing in Malaysia.” She said.

National Library of Malaysia and the National Library of Kazakhstan has established the cooperation for a long time and the relationship was strengthened when PNM was invited to join the International Exhibition in Nur-Sultan – capital of Kazakhstan, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary celebration of Nur-Sultan City in 2018.

“We are also planning to involve the National Library of Kazakhstan in our programmes such as International Story Telling Festival, Intellectual Heritage Carnival, Poetry Reading, International Conference and Exhibition of Malay Manuscripts and other suitable programmes soon.” PNM Director General said.

According to her, PNM is planning to have a cultural night to introduce and promote the Abay Centre to the Malaysian and Kazakh people in future. 

The opening of the Abay Centre of Kazakh Culture and Literature was launched within the framework of the national program “Rukhani Zhangyru”. The program was developed on the basis of the provisions of the Leader of the Nation – First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev’s article “A look into the future: modernization of public consciousness”, which was published on April 12, 2017. It marked the main goal of the nation for a new historical period: to preserve and enhance spiritual and cultural values. 

Abay Qunanbaiuly 1845 –1904 was a Kazakh poet, composer, and philosopher. He was also a cultural reformer toward European and Russian cultures based on enlightened Islam. Abay is the founder of written Kazakh literature. He is a symbol of philosophy, renaissance and national pride in Kazakhstan, and for many Kazakhs he is considered one of the brightest intellectuals. 

The Center shares the latest findings, studies, and opinions of experts, scholars, artists, and writers who explore and study Kazakh culture within the Eurasian context.

It is both a virtual space for articles and blogs via the website,, as well as a welcoming host of such events as presentations and discussions on arts, cinema, music and history.

Abay Centre was first founded in the Kazakh city of Almaty, and today there are 21 such centres all over the world, from the United States to Dubai, Cairo and now in Kuala Lumpur.

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