Sasaran Arts Association as community reformation

An art gallery located in fishing village engages locals

Published on 20 Apr 2023

by Maithilli Kalaiselvan

 Ng Bee, the founder of the Sasaran Arts Association, at the gallery. – ABDUL RAZAK LATIF/The Vibes, April 20, 2023

A SINGLE bright idea and teamwork are all it takes to alter the view of a community.

A local man's proposal to paint his village a new look has transformed Sasaran, a well-known fishing village 14km from the town of Kuala Selangor, into an artistic tourist destination.

The villagers here continue to use the name Sasaran, even though it was formerly known as Sungai Buloh, because there is another one located 50km away in the Petaling district.

The Sasaran Arts Association (SAA) is headed by Ng Bee, a native of Sasaran in 2008.

Tourists with their families visiting the gallery during the interview with The Vibes. – ABDUL RAZAK LATIF/The Vibes

After graduating from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore in 1976, he continued his education in the arts by enrolling in the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris.

Ng had the idea to change the perception of his village when he returned to Malaysia. Many residents were moving to cities like Kuala Lumpur and other areas of Selangor, which could be attributed to the decreased need for labour in the fishing industry.

The only artist in the village, Ng, who also serves as the association's chairman, discussed with other residents the notion of using art in giving Sasaran a fresh appearance.

The locals approved the move for the development of their community even though they have no knowledge of art or paintings.

The committee members of Sasaran Art Association told The Vibes that they would like to develop this art park as an Instagrammable spot, but the Kuala Selangor City Council (MDKS) is not paying enough attention to their idea. – ABDUL RAZAK LATIF/The Vibes

It was just me and six other villagers at the beginning of this approach to start with an international art workshop.

“I had to show them some catalogues about art to make sure they understand my idea and proceed further. It took me a month to educate them about art,” he said.

Paintings, installation art, and ceramics like pottery and sculptures are the three categories of art that SAA focuses on.

Kim, a full-time artist, and member of the association’s committee, shared that while they have done printmaking art during the festival, they have no current plans for more in the future. 

Sasaran Art Association makes art sculptures from metal, ceramics, and wood. – ABDUL RAZAK LATIF/The Vibes

Ng Chaw Tong, Ng Bee's son, recently received his degree in ceramics from Taiwan's Tainan National University of the Arts. Kim stated that he has plans  to mentor the young in ceramics by holding workshops.

A place for art festivals
To achieve recognition for the newly established art association, SAA organised an international art workshop in 2008 and invited artists from all over the world to contribute works to the gallery.

Every three years, SAA holds an international art festival, in which the artists produce works of art based on themes like 'Art in The Air' in 2014 and 'Art Beyond' in 2017.

In 2020, the festival was cancelled due to the pandemic. They are supposed to resume it this year, but it is dependent on the approval from the National Art Gallery and the number of funds they receive this year.

The gallery was built by Kuala Selangor City Council (MDKS) for Sasaran Art Association in 2017 along with space for an art park next to it. – ABDUL RAZAK LATIF/The Vibes

“The last art workshop was held in 2017. The next one (was) supposed to be held in 2020, but the pandemic made us drop the plan.

“We have a plan to resume the workshop this year, but it has some procedures. We need to prepare a proposal for the National Art Gallery and get their approval to collect funds.

“Not just that, but we need to find some sponsors too because if you don’t have money, you cannot do (the event),” said Ng.

Ng also shared his experiences of organising the international art festival for the first time.

Ng Chaw Tong, the son of Ng Bee (the founder), did his major in ceramics arts at Taiwan’s Tainan National University of the Arts and will conduct ceramic art workshops soon. – ABDUL RAZAK LATIF/The Vibes

“Since it is a small village with no accommodation service like hotels and homestays, the locals were very generous to invite the artists to stay at their houses for 10 days until the programme ends,” he said.

Their art events have already included over 50 local and foreign artists.

Artists from Egypt, Peru, Romania, Turkey, the United States, and other nations have also contributed to this organisation, in addition to nearby nations like Indonesia, Brunei, and Thailand.

To make sure that the artists' work fits the association's vision and theme, the artists will be chosen based on their portfolios.


Some ceramic arts and potteries by the artists of the Sasaran Art Association. – ABDUL RAZAK LATIF/The Vibes

Apart from the people of Sasaran, SJK(C) Chung Wah, a local Chinese school in that area helped SAA by rendering some classrooms to have their painting workshop.

“Back then when we were not having a gallery of our own, the school helped us by providing some space to have painting workshops.

“That is why we used to wait until November or December because the school holidays fall at that time, so we can occupy the classrooms there,” he said.

The Kuala Selangor City Council (MDKS) constructed a gallery for SAA in 2017 and additionally provided some areas for the art park.

Ng Kim Heoh, a former art teacher and a full-time artist from Penang voluntarily helps the art association with the documentation work. She shares her experiences working with this art group and the residents of Sasaran. – ABDUL RAZAK LATIF/The Vibes

Along with holding workshops, SAA also runs a biannual initiative known as the Artist Residency Programme. It highlights Sasaran as a creative community and gives aspiring young artists a place to grow and express their work.

There can only be two artists in each batch of this two-month programme and they each receive an allowance.

The artists will be provided with suitable studio space, residence, and

art supplies. In exchange, they will submit their two best pieces of work to the gallery at the end of the course.

A message for the government

The non-profit group said that the tourism ministry and the city council (MDKS) only provided between RM2,500 to RM3,000, which was insufficient to fund the organisation's activities

The double-storey gallery utlises the first floor for art exhibitions of paintings and some sculpture works. – ABDUL RAZAK LATIF/The Vibes

They had to find sponsors in order to hold their art workshops and festivals. Since the artists who attend the events will be paying for their own travel and airline tickets, SAA needs funds to plan for accommodation, food, and costs for the painting supplies.

The government owns the gallery building and the land where the installation artworks are displayed, but SAA will continue to pay for the utilities like water and electricity.

The organisation believes that the MDKS should be doing more to advertise the gallery so that it receives the same level of publicity as other nearby attractions like the Sky Mirror and Fireflies Park.

“We (SAA) have ideas to develop the art park into a beautiful space, but we are not getting proper attention from the MDKS.

Paintings done by the artists of their Art Residency programme have contributed some of their artworks to the gallery. – ABDUL RAZAK LATIF/The Vibes

Sasaran Arts Association
Kuala Selangor
11, Jalan Dato' Tan Teng Kuay,
45800 Jeram,
Selangor Darul Ehsan,

Website by: CWDesign

Contact Us

Sasaran Art Gallery Kuala Selangor
B104, Jalan Sasaran,
Sasaran, Jeram
45800 Jeram, Selangor Darul Ehsan
Ng Bee  ;+6 012 2579057
Ng Kim Heoh -