Bonding two nations via photographs
Belgium native Walter François first stepped foot in Malaysia in 1974 and has visited the country about 50 times since.

Having fallen in love with the country and its multi-ethnic character, the 61-year-old found it strange that Malaysia is not as much a household name in Belgium compared to countries like Thailand, Indonesia or Singapore.

This was the reason that he decided to get personally involved in making Malaysia more known to the people in Belgium - through his camera.

Official opening: De Gucht (centre) cutting a ribbon to mark the opening of the exhibition. Looking on are (from left) François, Van de Craen, Liu and Syed Yusof.

The retired banker has since published two coffee table books of Malaysia and a third is in the pipeline.

"The opposite is also true. Belgium is not so well known to Malaysians so I thought of putting Belgium in the limelight here. What better way than to start by featuring Ghent, the city where I was born," François said during the opening of his photography exhibition titled "Ghent in Kuala Lumpur" at Wisma Kebudayaan SGM.

Belgium Foreign Affairs Minister Karel De Gucht officially opened the exhibition last Saturday.

Among those present at the ceremony were Belgium ambassador to Malaysia Dr Frank Van de Craen, Soka Gakkai deputy president Liu Cheng Choong and special guest Tan Sri Syed Yusof Syed Nasir.

The exhibition features photographs of buildings and sights in the city of Ghent, which has a rich history.

Alluring: The Koornlei is a beautiful part of Ghent situated along the banks of the old harbour.

"With this personal initiative, I would like to let my Malaysian friends make acquaintance with the glorious immortalised past of my home city," said François.

"Through his photos, François gives us an overview of the different functions of the medieval city through its architecture and its outlay. Some of the buildings you see in the photographs date back to as far as the 12th and 13th century," he said.

Besides the photos of Ghent, the exhibition also features some of the photos of Malaysian landmarks taken by François like the Jalan Duta High Court and the Shah Alam mosque.

François said his wish was to someday have the honour of guiding his Malaysian friends in Ghent.

The exhibition is open to the public from 11am to 6pm daily at Wisma Kebudayaan SGM, No 243 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-9075 6876.

Source: /
Date: 18/06/2008
Author: Tan Karr Wei

Other articles:

•  2011/01/28 Former PM launches Book
•  2011/01/19 For the love of Malaysia
•  2011/01/17 Malaysia 'kekasih' Walter (Malay)
•  2011/01/07 Belgian writer launches his fourth book on Malaysia
•  2010/12/30 Wherever you go, have respect!
•  2008/09/19 Walter François: "MaleisiŽ is echt geen apenland" (Dutch)
•  2008/08 Ghent in Kuala Lumpur, a photographic exhibition by Walter François
•  2008/08 Ghent in Kuala Lumpur
•  2008/06/18 Bonding two nations via photographs
•  2007/09/19 From banking to writing
•  2006/11/17 Gemeente Lochristi: Exotische sfeer in gemeentehuis (Dutch)
•  2005/12/27 Walter François's new book on Langkawi
•  2005/12/27 Penulis Belgium hasilkan buku tentang Langkawi (Malay)
•  2005/12/14 Belgian writer's new book On Langkawi out next week
•  2005/11/02 Belgian Banker-turned-author promotes Malaysia through books
•  2002/02 Walter François presents Malaysia
•  2001/06/11 Belgian banker to publish picture book on Malaysia
•  2001/06 Kekaguman warga Belgium terhadap Malaysia (Malay)
•  1999/07/03 Borneo anders bekeken (Dutch)
•  1999/04/28 Pictorial book on two States being compiled
•  1998/06/26 Dok Mungki Walter
•  1997/07 Tentoonstelling 'Borneo 2000' (Dutch)
Preview Gallery
Below a small selection of pictures which are featured in Walter's latest coffee table book. Click on the pictures to see the larger version.