IPOH, Aug 30 — After launching a great effort to vote in the historic May 9 election, over 500 overseas Malaysians are joining hands again, this time to celebrate Merdeka.
The group of Malaysian citizens from 25 cities worldwide has created a video performance of them singing the popular patriotic song, “Sejahtera Malaysia”, in conjunction with Malaysia’s 61st Independence Day celebration.
“We chose the song because it was one of the most widely-shared song on social media before and after GE14. It’s a classic song, with meaningful lyrics that can touch every Malaysian,” Project Hari Malaysia project manager Yap Lu Ying told Malay Mail.
The video is the first endeavour carried out by the Global Malaysian Network (GMN), an organisation of over 26,000 people formed on the back of volunteering efforts that sprung forth among overseas Malaysians during the 14th general election.
In the days leading up to the elections, many overseas Malaysians registered as postal voters had received ballots far too late to be sent home by courier in time for polling day.
However, Malaysians worldwide joined forces to pass their ballots along in a “relay race” carried out by volunteer vote-runners who flew home to physically deliver the votes. The connection formed during this effort led a group of overseas Malaysians to set up GMN on Facebook.
Their five-minute long video, under GMN’s Project Hari Malaysia 1.0, will premiere during the “Sayangi Malaysiaku Countdown Concert” which will be held in Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, at 8pm tonight.
Yap, 29, said the idea for the video came about in mid-May, less than a week after the group was formed on May 13.
“It all started from a chat post where one of our members shared a link to a cover version of Sejahtera Malaysia. And I commented, why don’t we do it for Malaysia’s upcoming birthday?” she told Malay Mail recently.
Every single participant in the project, ranging from the production to the music team, is a Malaysian volunteer.
The participants make up a varied and diverse group, including children as young as five to adults aged 60.
The piece’s arrangement was created by award-winning composer Isaac Chong in Hong Kong, while singer-songwriter Charis Chua (Taiwan) and Lance Low (Germany) also contributed to the backing track by playing the piano, flute, and trombone respectively.
The final video was edited by a production team that worked online from the United States, Thailand, and Singapore.
With participants scattered around countries and regions like the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, Europe, and the Middle East, it took nearly three months to gather participants for the video.
“Many poured their personal time, effort, and funds into the project, renting professional studios, travelling cross-country in bad weather, and buying the Jalur Gemilang from speciality shops,” said the project’s worldwide coordinator Ong Xin Yi, 32.
“Some participants even wore traditional attire like baju kurung, cheongsam, and traditional East Malaysian outfits while filming their performances.”
Ong also saluted the production team who spent many days and nights splicing together the submissions received from all corners of the world.
“Each rendition of the chorus was layered over each other to create the effect of a large choir. All 25 cities’ recordings were then layered to create a rousing climax for the song’s last ‘Sejahtera Malaysia’ line,” she explained.
“Post-production was incredibly challenging as the recordings were different in quality and file format. But the team worked tirelessly to overcome these challenges.
“We wanted to create a final product worthy of fellow Malaysians; one that would not disappoint them.”
Ong said her recording session in London was held during Hari Raya Aidilfitri, describing it as a ‘touching and emotional moment’.
“We all felt home when we sang the song, as we grew up with the song since the time we were kids. We all love our country so much and sang the song out loud with the full patriotic spirit.”
Though Yap was not featured in the video, she took part in the production team.
“I was touched because members of different ages, races, all came together just for a song, a birthday wish for our beloved country. The project started as something informal and small-scale,” she said.
“Most participants were strangers to one another before the recording, with this project bringing them together for the first time. Many came out of this enriched by new friendships with fellow Malaysians in their countries of residence.”