The Perak government gave a different twist to its Hari Raya open house this year by holding the event at the Movie Animation Park Studios (Maps) theme park.
According to Teja assemblyperson Sandrea Ng, the idea was conceived by the state exco who were grappling with ways to promote the facility which was initiated by the previous administration.
The facility is 51 percent-owned by the Perak State Development Corporation (PKNP), a government agency, with attractions based on local animation BoboiBoy and Hollywood creations such as The Croods, Casper and Mr. Peabody & Sherman.
“This is part of the process to rejuvenate the theme park. By making it free, we encouraged a lot of first time visitors to experience the park for the first time,” Ng told Malaysiakini.
According to Bernama, the unusual approach to a government Hari Raya open house had attracted some 40,000 people, including those from neighbouring cities.
Roszlan Wan Hassan, 35, told Bernama that he was surprised that the state government was ‘brave enough and did something different” by hosting the event at MAPS.
"We didn’t have to pay despite it being the first day of a public holiday. I am here with eight members of my family and it is so much fun,” he added.
M Jayaletchumy, 44, said it was a joy to get into MAPS without having to pay for food and tickets.
Apart from the food, visitors were also feted to performances by big names such as M Nasir, Jamal Abdillah and Zamani Slam.
At a press conference later, Perak Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu said events and festivities could be held at other state tourist attractions such as the Amanjaya circle, Dr Seenivasagam Park, Lost World theme park, Bukit Merah Laketown Resort and at other interesting sites.
Faizal assured that his administration has no plans to close Maps despite its problems and will instead find ways around it.
" I will continue to do what I can to make MAPS a great theme park," he told reporters, adding that talks with potential investors are currently underway.
According to exco member Howard Lee, apart from cashflow problems, Maps’ management was still wrestling with problems over intellectual properties.
He said there are many attractions involving some Hollywood creations which were already installed but could not be open to the public because of intellectual property issues.
“By holding our open house at Maps, we are showing Perakians what the park has to offer. We hope to harness the collective energy of Perakians to resolve this problem together,” he told Malaysiakini.