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Saturday, January 28, 2017

No ethnic Chinese in Malaysia Airline’s CNY video because…

Did anyone wonder why no ethnic Chinese were featured in Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) Chinese New Year video?

FMT asked M&C Saatchi Malaysia, the advertising agency involved in the production of the video.

“We knew all other Chinese New Year advertisements would always focus on the Chinese,” said the agency’s creative director Darren Lee.

“But we wanted to show that the Chinese are not the only ones celebrating, that other races in Malaysia also celebrate the Chinese New Year, together with their Chinese friends.”

MAS’ 1.41-minute video to celebrate the Year of the Rooster featured Malaysians of all races, except one, wishing Malaysians Happy Chinese New Year fluently in Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien.

Apart from showing what non-Chinese think about the festival, the video titled, “A truly Malaysian greeting”, encouraged Malaysians to get together and to return home for the festive season.

Those in the video talked about the Chinese New Year, the clothes associated with it, and the manner in which Malaysians come together during festivals and related matters.

It ended with a Malaysia Airlines crew wishing those returning home a pleasant journey.

According to Lee, none of the “talents” in the video were actors and in fact, some of them had never been in front of a camera professionally.

“They can speak Mandarin, Hokkien, and Cantonese fluently. We didn’t even have to train or coach them.

“Some of them went to Chinese school. Some learned it as they grew up with a diverse bunch of friends. And that was the beautiful thing about it (the video).

“It shows how progressive we are, by becoming not only bilingual and trilingual, but also more united as Malaysians who embrace diversity, and celebrate each other’s cultures,” said Lee.

One of the talents, Farah Halijah Halim, is a Malay. In the video she spoke in Cantonese. But the 29-year-old is also fluent in Mandarin.

Speaking to FMT, Farah said she went to Chinese schools for both primary and secondary levels. That was where she learned how to speak Mandarin.

“And when I started work, I picked up Cantonese as well,” said Farah, who worked as an auditor in one of largest auditing firms in the world, Ernst & Young, now known as EY.

She had no modelling or acting experience, and did not even know what she was signing up for when she responded to the casting call.

“My friend tagged me on the Facebook advertisement, which did not say what the casting is for. It just said that the agency is looking for Malaysians who can speak Chinese.

“So I sent two short clips of me speaking in Mandarin and Cantonese, and that was it.

“I didn’t even know it was for MAS until right before the shooting began.”

At the time of publication, the video has been viewed more than 170,000 times on YouTube, and was ranked 13th on the most trending videos.

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