MALAYSIA does have talent but these talents are largely under-utilised by the people in the corridors of power.
Tourism Malaysia, for example, should find some of our Malaysian talents useful as brand ambassadors to promote Malaysia as the preferred tourist destination.
Among them are eight-time world squash champion Nicol David; Malaysia’s very own diving queen, Pandelela Rinong Pamg; Malaysia No 1 hockey player Kuhan Shanmuganathan; badminton ace Lee Chong Wei; national cyclist, Azizulhasni Awang; professional bowler Shalin Zulkifli; and Michelle Yeo who needs no introduction.
All it needs to be done is to put them on promotional tours around the world to promote Malaysia as top of the mind recall preferred tourist destination.
It is the personal touch that will attract and excite people about visiting Malaysia – not the overplayed images of traditional dances or top playing competitions often used by Tourism Malaysia to promote the country to the world.
Many people around the world know of Nicol David better than most Malaysians do. They voted for her to win the World Games’ Greatest Athlete of All Time in 2021.
Nicol could easily qualify as the country’s tourism ambassador to woo tourists to experience the beautiful island of Penang which is her hometown.
There will definitely be more ideas flowing if brainstorming is done but the simplest form of marketing is to have images of her doing different activities displayed in the backdrop as she appears to meet her fans in autograph sessions.
While these are well-known personalities, Malaysia should never underestimate the potential in two untapped talents that come to mind, especially since they have not been on the media radar. They are two musicians extraordinaire, Dr Joanne Yeoh Pei Sze (main pic) and Colin Ng Soon Beng.
Two untapped talents
After electric violinist Joanne performed with Hong Kong artiste Jacky Cheung in the Jacky Cheung 2002-2003 Music Odyssey touring Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, China, Taiwan, Brunei, the US, UK and Canada, she became so popular that Hong Kong actor Andy Lau also invited her to join his “My Love Andy Lau World tour” in 2019.
Due to the lack of marketing her talents, the ‘Vanessa Mae’ potential in her remains largely untapped although her aerial act (see video) is absolutely stunning for her audience, which have included among others former Malaysian prime ministers, sultans and large corporate companies.
Currently an Associate Professor at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Joanne’s performance against the backdrop of images of beautiful Malaysia in major cities can easily boost Malaysia’s image in the eyes of the world and help to raise the profile of UPM where she is lecturing.
Perhaps on his trips to attend major meetings, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should offer Malaysian talents an opportunity to perform at some of these events.
Given the platform to perform, Joanne would certainly be a big attraction overseas just as she has also made a big name for herself locally.
After electric violinist Joanne performed with Hong Kong artiste Jacky Cheung in the Jacky Cheung 2002-2003 Music Odyssey touring Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, China, Taiwan, Brunei, the US, UK and Canada, she went on David tao’s Soul Power Tour in 2004. By then, she had become so popular that Hong Kong actor Andy Lau also invited her to join his “My Love Andy Lau World tour” in 2019.
The other lesser-known local artiste is our very own Stevie Wonders of Malaysia, Colin Ng Soon Beng. Although born with multiple disabilities, Colin had a passion for music since he was four years old.
His mother, Janet Ooi who discovered the talent, dedicated her own life to groom Colin from young until he graduated with a degree in music from a local private institution.
The mother-and-son duo could hardly survive on their own as there are not enough jobs coming their way except for a weekly performance at Bangsar Shopping Village II where Colin’s mother would have to accompany him.
Even that, Colin is placed in a corner and hardly visible or appreciated by shoppers. This will be another talent that is wasted if Tourism Malaysia does not tap into his ability to mesmerise the audience with his performances. – Sept 22, 2023