If a man wants to get into the Genting Highlands casino, about an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur, he either needs to be wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a tie - or a long-sleeved batik shirt. It goes to show that even in a place where the real focus is on gambling, respect is accorded to batik as formal wear. Although Indonesians are at the forefront of batik, which involves decorating cloth using hot wax and dye, Malaysia also has its own batik industry. In recent years, batikwear has lost some of its lustre in Malaysia and is mostly confined to conservative and formal occasions. But at the other end of the scale, it is also seen as beachwear. As such, there is some confusion about whether it is formal or informal. There used to be an unwritten rule that government employees should wear batik on Saturdays. And about a year ago, RTM, the government-run TV station, told its male newsreaders to wear batik at the weekend. Given the mixed perception over what is deemed appropriate, many people steer away from batik and stick to something less expressive. But this may soon change with a strong push from no less than Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his wife, Endon Mahmood. Ms Endon has initiated a three-year campaign known as 'Malaysia Batik - Crafted For the World'. Backed by a group of local designers, she is out to change the current perceptions by showcasing outfits that incorporate traditional batik motifs with contemporary designs, with the aim of transforming batik into modern daywear, locally and internationally. 'It is high time for batik to break into the international market. When done right, it can be recognised as modern and chic,' says Richard Tsen, a menswear designer. The movement is gathering momentum. And there is no shortage of corporate sponsors. Designers, too, have come out in force, with clothes described as fresh and fashionable. Ms Endon is being helped by Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia, a charity foundation which she chairs, and Batik Guild, a body specially set up to market the campaign. The 'batik movement' has several aims: to revitalise the industry and showcase it locally and internationally, create markets for the use of batik products, and ensure the long-term relevance, growth and progress of the industry. It will also encourage innovation in design and use of materials, improve the economic welfare of smaller batik producers and reinforce batik as an inherent part of Malaysian identity. 'I believe that we have come up with a cohesive approach,' said Ms Endon, adding that the objectives are not mutually exclusive. So, remember, next time you see a man step out of a taxi wearing a batik shirt and carrying a batik umbrella, he could be part of the evolution towards the greater use of Malaysian batik - and not just a casino-goer.