KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 –- Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz defended today the Najib administration’s new “Endless Possibilities” theme, which had been skewered by pro-establishment supporters for its striking similarity to Israel’s “One Place. Endless Possibilities” tourism campaign.
The tourism minister insisted the controversial new slogan was not an imitation of the Israelis effort, but an expansion of the iconic “Malaysia Boleh!” tagline from the time of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“This ‘Endless Possibilities’ is an extension of previously the slogan ‘Malaysia Boleh’ from Tun Mahathir’s time,” Nazri told The Malay Mail Online, referring to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had popularised the Malay slogan — which means “Malaysia Can” — as a national rallying cry during the latter’s 22 years in office.
The new tagline is to complement the existing “1Malaysia: People First. Performance Now” and not to replace it, he said.
“1Malaysia is to unite the people. ‘Endless possibilities’ is to market Malaysia globally,” he said, to inform the world that “they can do business with us”.
The seasoned minister explained that despite being a relatively tiny country in terms of its physical geography and population size, Malaysia had emerged as a formidable world player among new economies.
Now that Malaysia was seeking to contest on the world stage, its branding needed to evolve and a suitable rallying cry was necessary, Nazri argued.
“[It] means we are not afraid or scared to compete with others,” the Padang Rengas MP said.
The minister said with such clear objectives, the branding venture had been undertaken by a professional local publicist.
The decision, he added, was collectively agreed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Cabinet.
“We’ve employed a PR agency, it’s Farid Ridzuan from Media Prima who was tasked from the very beginning to market Malaysia in [sic] the world, so the Cabinet has been kept informed on this and finally, decided on ‘Endless Possibilities’,” Nazri said.
On the Internet, some have also sought to defend the new campaign, saying that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s use of the theme preceded the Israeli launch of the campaign.
One Facebook post defended the “Endless Possibilities” slogan from attacks, claiming that Najib had already used it a few months ahead of Israel during a World Economic Forum (WEF).
“The Tourism Ministry of Israel only used the slogan ‘One Place, Endless Possibilities’ in their website on May 2013. The slogan was never launched and it was never been regarded as an official statement,.
“It is clear that Malaysia, did not copy Israel. Maybe Israel is the one who copy form Malaysia, whether they realize it or not, we do not know,” an excerpt from the Facebook post reads.
The Malay Mail Online’s checks showed that Israel’s official website for its Ministry of Tourism carries a link for “Conference and Incentive Tourism” under the heading “Our Websites”.
The link opens up to a website which features the tagline “Israel: One Place. Endless Possibilities” prominently in its top-left corner.
The same tagline is also the headline of a April 22, 2013 press release by the Israel Ministry of Tourism on the website of IMEX 2014, a global exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events that will take place in Frankfurt, Germany next year.
But the resemblance to the Israeli theme also has internet observers questioning the value in the Prime Minister’s Department commissioning advisors to “copy” the slogan.
“Please give the world something original. If you can’t even sort out a proper slogan and had to copy from other countries, then your implementation and grandiose ideas are doubtful to begin with,” wrote one critic on his blog, Jebat Must Die.
“Any sane person will sack their advisors.”
Others picking up on the bloggers criticisms have also pointed out similarities to Israeli efforts had also plagued the 1Malaysia campaign in 2009, which the opposition had alleged was copied from the 1Israel theme.
But Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, scoffed at the attempts to paint the government as a silent sympathiser to the Zionist regime in Israel.
“We still maintain a very strong stance against Israel for some of the things they have done to Palestinians.
“So people must be able to put this discussion or this debate in a better perspective, unless ‘Endless Possibilities’ has been patented by Israelis, I think this is ridiculous,” he said.
Malaysia is a staunch supporter of the Muslim Palestinian cause in the decades-old Middle East territorial struggle, and is a major critic of Israel’s policies, which has caused it to withtold from forming any diplomatic tie with the Zionist government.
Yesterday, The Star reported Najib as saying that the “Endless Possibilities” slogan will be used to promote Malaysia to other countries.
“We are going to promote it as part of our national branding,” Najib was quoted as saying by the English-language daily.
The BN leader was reportedly seen sporting a dark blue badge, bearing a 14-pointed star in red, yellow and white above the word “Malaysia”.
“It (the branding slogan) is to complement 1Malaysia, not to replace it,” Najib also said, referring to the “1Malaysia” concept that was launched in 2009 during his first term as prime minister.
According to the paper, Najib had already used the “Endless Possibilities” slogan during the World Economic Forum in Davos this January in his efforts to push Malaysia to investors and tourists.
The Star also reported that the new tagline would be launched this September 17, a day after Malaysia marks the 50th anniversary of its formation.