KUALA LUMPUR: With all eyes on him, Indian High Commissioner Mridul Kumar broke into song as he soothed his country’s frayed diplomatic ties with Malaysia.
Using India’s 71st Republic Day celebrations as his platform, the packed audience listened intently on Wednesday evening as he sang the Hindi tune Koi Nazrana Lekar (Special Gift of My Heart).
The lyrics included these words: “People may have brought stars from the sky but I have got a special gift in my heart, which is overflowing with joy and happiness for all of you.”
Applauding him from the Malaysian government were Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Dr Xavier Jayakumar who proposed a toast to India, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok and Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran.
Also present at the event held at a hotel were a host of Malaysian government officials and parliamentarians.
Speaking earlier, Mridul described India’s relations with Malaysia as an “eternal bond”.
“This relationship is not transactional but emotional.
“The 2.7 million-strong Indian diaspora here forms the bedrock of our mutually beneficial engagement today.
“Indians, as much as others who live here, helped shape modern Malaysia through their toil and relentless hard work.
“We are proud of our diaspora’s contribution to building their fatherland – Malaysia – as also of their deep respect and abiding commitment to their motherland – India, ” he said.
To set the mood for the evening, guests posed for photographs with placards bearing the words “Keep Calm and Curry On”, “Besties” and “Namaste” (traditional Indian greeting of respect).
BJP Malaysia chapter president Pardeep Batra praised the envoy for what he termed “a grand diplomatic effort”.
“I am very sure this testing phase will pass and things will be back to usual.
“I expanded my restaurant business to Malaysia many years ago and I have never regretted this.
“There can only be better things to look forward to, ” added Batra, who is the managing director of the Spice Garden chain of Indian restaurants.
Malaysia-India relations suffered a dip of late when Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad criticised several of the republic’s actions, such as concerning Jammu and Kashmir and its new citizenship law.
India retaliated by considering restricting imports of Malaysian palm oil and replacing it with edible oils from Indonesia or Argentina.
India is the biggest buyer of Malaysian palm oil.