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Thursday September 27, 2012

Use singing talents to promote Malaysia

WE are proud whenever Malaysians shine on the global stage. They include our “Bond Girl” Datuk Michelle Yeoh, “Shoe Man” Datuk Jimmy Choo and “Fashion Icon” Zang Toi.

We now have Shila Amzah (pic) who recently won the inaugural Asian Wave reality TV singing contest in Shanghai with her rendition of songs in Malay, English and Mandarin.

It was her interpretation of the Mandarin number that won her the most number of online votes and had those present, including the judges, on their feet.

The Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board should cash in on the popularity of Malaysian singers as it is more cost-effective in staging concerts at target markets for attracting visitors.

Few tourists would come all the way just to watch a created street fiesta such as the “Colours of Malaysia” and it was more likely to be incidental for those who did.

Shila’s feat was similar to the late Datuk Sudirman Arshad’s winning of the Asia Music Award in 1989 at the Royal Albert Hall, London. They both wowed the audience singing in the native language of the land.

In our midst are non-Chinese singers who can perform well in Mandarin and they would impress a large number of people in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and other South-East Asian nations.

These countries generate 92% of visitors to Malaysia.

Malaysians who can sing exceptionally well in foreign languages should also be roped in to spearhead tourism promotion in other countries.

We used to have Datuk Shake who in 1976 became the first notable Asian singer to sing in French; Kamahl who emirated to Australia and became an international star; and the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee who remains a legend on both sides of the causeway.       

The common thread with all past and present international Malaysian singers is that they could communicate well in English and Shila is no exception.

When the camera was trained on her father, Shila called out affectionately “my dad” and walked across the huge stage towards him and they embraced.

Amir Amzah, better known as ND Lala, was a famous 80s era singer himself patted her daughter’s head like a father would. It was an endearing sight when both displayed humility.

In additional to her great performance, 22-year-old Shila expressed maturity, friendliness, intelligence and warmth that made her adorable.

The video I watched was forwarded by my brother who has been in Australia for the past 40 years and always hungry for good news about Malaysia.

Watching it made me feel proud to be a Malaysian. It had also nourished my battered soul.

YS CHAN
Kuala Lumpur

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