Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Malaysian Cultural Show in Hawaii...16 Years Later

Time flies, and most of the time, we have no idea how fast it would be. I spent last night looking at old photographs and an old video (converted into CD, but that didn't do justice) of my student days of Hawaii, which was from 1992 to 1994. I can hardly believed it myself, it has been 16 years since I came back, started work, got married, started my business, got a son, moved back to Alor Setar and started writing a blog.

Remembering my wild rebellious days in MRSM/MSM and the-still-rebellious-yet-refined PJ Community College days, I promised my parents, friend and myself that those days were over. I was determined to start anew, a low-profile, more academic life in Hawaii Pacific University. One year later, I was elected as the President of the newly re-formed Malaysian Students Association of Hawaii Pacific Universities...I still can't figure out who put me up to it...

Among the best memories ever of being in charge of the Malaysian Students Association is organizing CentreStage : The Malaysian Cultural Performances. The show was performed at the Ala Moana Shopping Centre, the biggest shopping mall in the Asia Pacific region at that time. The idea came about when my friend Neil and I went "lepak"ing there one day, and after lunch we saw a group of little girls from pre-school performing ballet there. I asked Neil's opinion about having a Malaysian cultural show at the CentreStage and Neil replied, "It's a good idea!" and the rest is history.

The idea was met by enthusiastic supports and pessimistic criticisms. Nay-sayers condemned the Malaysians as "what the hell are they trying to prove?" which was after the months of criticising. "this malaysian association never has any activities." Well, I proved nothing, but the Malaysian guys and girls who worked so hard have proven them wrong.

This event was 15 years before the broad-scoping concept of 1Malaysia, but the spirit of Malaysia was always around. The Malay dance group comprises of Malays, Indians and Chinese; the Chinese Dance comprised of Chinese and Kadazan Dusun, choreographed by a Malay and the Indian Dance were comprised of Indian, Chinese and Indian. Even the technical and supporting crew are balanced, well, including my best friend from Singapore, Sean. Sean was the tireless photographer who actually dazzled my attention while on stage for moving from one location to another to get the perfect shot. Even Neil's brother Dev, who was actually working in Hawaii and not a student, was involved as the official video cameraman.

After more than 6 months of training at various locations, where many minor incidents occurring, the show blasted off to an auspicious start, with Azura and I became the Masters of Ceremony. Tourism Malaysia, which were based in Los Angeles, helped us a lot by providing brochures, promotional items and even costumes for the show. The brave Malaysian guys and girls were graceful and mesmerizing. I was also informed by the management of Ala Moana Shopping Centre that the Malaysians were the first to perform on stage in the shopping mall. Not only that, I was told by the Malaysian Students Association's advisor that the Malaysians were the first group to actually have the courage to perform a cultural show in a public area outside of the university campus...and this was a time even before the "Malaysia Boleh" slogan. The campus were abuzz with the name Malaysia, and the guys and girls? They were the celebrities who pulled it off.

When my term ended at the end of 1993, I managed to witness the Malaysian cultural show becoming an annual event. I came home in December 1994, and I didn't know whether the show is still around every year or not. As one of the persons who wove the fabric to full, this is one of the memories that I cherish until the day I go.

To all of those who were part of the event, Che' Aa, Nana, Sri, Siva Kuhan, Chhui Ling, Karen, Azura, Radha, Bernard, Daryl, Renu, Sean, Dev, Nei;, Eric, Poh Lin and many many more (I also realized that I can't remember some of the names, I really apologize on that), thank you for the memories. Before I forget again, here's the video...the quality has deteriorated through time and the conversion to cd doesn't make any improvement. Enjoy.

As per requirements of Youtube, the video file was split to 5 parts:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

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