By YEOH HAN YANG SHAUN and FAIZATUL HUSNA
MOST of you don’t know why you’re here, but that’s ok. We’re Malaysians. We don’t have to know everything lah!”
That’s how comedian Harith Iskandar started off a special preview of the Love Letters to Malaysia project, which the BRATs were lucky enough to be a part of.
Love Letters To Malaysia is a project to compile 18 of Petronas’ best TV commercials, particularly the ones that capture the Malaysian spirit.
The compilation will be uploaded to Petronas’ official YouTube channel (youtube.com/petronasofficial) in November, and a special exhibition of “love letters to Malaysia”, postcards from the public filled with messages of love for our dear country, will be set up at Galeri Petronas in KLCC, from late November to January (the exact dates aren’t confirmed yet).
At the preview event, a panel consisting of Star Radio Group chief operating officer Kudsia Kahar, filmmaker Quek Shio Chuan, Teach For Malaysia managing director Dzameer Dzulkifli, World Vision CEO Liew Tong Ngan and Scope Group chief executive officer Christoffer Erichsen shared their thoughts on the selected TVCs.
The TVCs were selected according to five themes – Love, The Gift of Friendship, Enduring Values, Growing Pains and Social Cohesion.
As they screened the 18 TVCs, we were taken back in time to the late 90s, when Petronas premiered its first Merdeka TVC, The Little Indian Boy. It told the story of an Indian boy and his vivid memories of that historic day in 1957, which he spent with his late father.
After the screening, Harith shared his father’s experience of Merdeka Day. He was on duty as a soldier online casino in the jungle, and he celebrated with his comrades by whispering “Merdeka” to each other to avoid giving away their position. It was a perfect reminder of how truly meaningful Merdeka is.
Also at the event were Tan Hong Ming and Ummi Khazriena, the stars of one of Petronas’ most remarkable TVCs, the simple yet beautiful Tan Hong Ming In Love. The short video showed a young Tan professing his love for schoolmate Ummi in an impromptu interview recorded at their school by the late Yasmin Ahmad. The two are now 14.
When asked by Harith if he became famous after the TVC aired, Tan said: “Well, I got free food at shopping malls!” Ummi, on the other hand, joked that she was upset she never got the same treatment.
When we spoke to Tan, we just had to ask – was he just saying all that stuff for the cameras? Tan immediately started blushing! He said it was 100% real. Talk about puppy love!
All in all, it was a great experience walking down memory lane with all those TVCs, and being reminded how cool it is to be a Malaysian.