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FROM HIMALAYA TO MALAYA

Dato Mohamed Mirza Taiyab is one of the quickest thinkers I have known. While on his first Tourism Malaysia promotion in Nepal, as the Director in charge of Promotions and Marketing, he was already tinkering with what Nepal Tourism Board might adopt for its advertising jingle. He told me that The Carpenters' song "Top of the World" would greatly resonate with international tourists alluring them to visit the tallest mountains in the world; would we be able to secure the copyright to it?

Later as the Director General of Malaysian Tourism Board he brought many innovative marketing strategies to offer Malaysia to the world as "Truly Asia". It was he who pointed out to me the connection between our Himalaya and his Malaya. People had travelled from North India to Malaya before Christ and brought to it the Hindu religion and its ruling dynasties. One of the first kings of Kedah, a Malay province known in ancient times as Langkasura, was a progeny of Alexander the Great who married a princess of North-western India and settled down in Malaya. He named his new territory "Malaya" a derivative of Himalaya if this theory is to be believed. Rajah and Sultan were titles imported from India.

The Malay link to the Himalaya does not end here of course. It was during the Second World War that the Gurkha soldiers fought on the side of Britain to expel the Japanese invaders. Later still the Gurkha soldiers fought the Communists during the Malayan Emergency. Four new regiments were formed here, Gurkha Engineers, Signals, Transport and Military Police. After 1957 A.D. in recognition of their contribution Independent Malaysia would bestow onto them citizenship and conscription in the Malaysian Armed Forces, especially in the Royal Ranger Regiment. In 1955 my father General Kiran Shumsher as Commander-in-Chief of the Nepalese Army went on an official visit to Malaya at the invitation of Commander-in-Chief, Far Eastern Command of the British Army and inspected the Gurkha regiments stationed there. I have found an old newspaper cutting of my father inspecting Gurkha children in a school.


I have been involved in our country's commercial ties with Malaysia. Representing Malaysia Airlines in Nepal as its General Sales Agent I have had the honour and pleasure of welcoming a great number of Malaysian tourists since 1999. In close collaboration with the Malaysian Tourism Board I initiated the promotion of Malaysia as an attractive and viable tourist destination for Nepalese pockets. Nepalese tourists reveled in the manifold attractions of Kuala Lumpur, a modern cosmopolitan city; in the many theme parks such as those in Genting Highlands and the pristine beaches of Langkawi. I single handedly started a burgeoning outbound travel industry that a decade later caters to ever larger numbers of Nepalese tourists flocking to foreign shores from Egypt to Turkey, Mauritius to Dubai and from Thailand to China.

Furthermore Malaysia today has become the proverbial El Dorado for young Nepalese men and women in search of job opportunity the host country generously obliges them with. There are over 600,000 Nepalese workers there sending back remittance to the mother country in precious foreign exchange that helps our banks run. We are more welcome there than many other workers from neighbouring countries as history is on our side. The Gurkhas have lost their lives guarding Malaya. Malaysians are now paying the debt it owes to the people from the Himalaya.

I am with my family in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia






Comments

  1. I have read of numerous incidents of Nepali workers being mistreated in the Middle East, but not one from Malaysia. Now I see why. Thank you for enlightening.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Horatio, your statement can not be true for long

      Delete
  2. Subodh, sorry for this late comment. I am trying to catch up on reading your blogs. Your father would be proud of you for what you have done in the field of tourism for Nepal. But in school if anyone would have told Birat or me you would be in the tourism business, we would have fainted and they would have taken us to the infirmary.
    But jokes aside, your father was clearly cut out to be a general, not only mentally but also physically. As the photo in your write up reveals, a very tall and handsome gentleman with such a personable demeanor! Which country would not like him to have represented their army as the Commander in Chief?

    ReplyDelete

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