A Bollywood-PM combo in Malaysia (Malaysia diary)

October 27th, 2010 - 8:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Putrajaya, Oct 27 (IANS) “Jodha Akbar” and the sombre Prime Minister Manmohan Singh? An unlikely combination, you’d think. But the twain did meet at a slide show extolling the qualities of the prime minister to the strains of the popular “Kehne Ko Jashne Bahara HaiĀ…”.

The tune was familiar but what was the song, Indians amongst the gathering at the Putrajaya Convention Centre where the prime minister was delivering the Khazanah global lecture asked each other Wednesday afternoon.

Accompanying the instrumental sound track of the soulful romantic number from the Bollywood blockbuster were snapshots of the prime minister with quotes on him and by him.

And was that a smile on the face of the usually impassive prime minister? From the distance in the cavernous hall, it was difficult to tell - for even those who have watched him closely for years.

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Pretty Putrajaya - but no people

The administrative capital of Putrajaya, about an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, is pretty, too pretty, some would say. With man-made lakes, pretty red-tiled houses, grand ministry buildings and trees — it is picture postcard perfect.

But where are the people in the city, meticulously built with lamp posts in every street designed differently, each ministry looking different from the other and massive bridges? The brainchild of former prime minister Mahathir Mohammed, Putrajaya is yet to be fully peopled.

The prime minister and the ministers have their official residences in the city but many government employees are still to move in. Unlike other cities that grow organically, Putrajaya is an artificial construct - think of Islamabad, Chandigarh and the like.

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Not rained out - despite the rains

The rains seem to be following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his entourage on his three-nation Asia tour. They landed on a wet Sunday evening in Tokyo and it seemed to set the trend with most of the three days in the Japanese capital overcast and drizzling with a hint of chill in the air.

Tropical Kuala Lumpur has also been cloudy. The sun has barely been out with a light drizzle off and on through the day.

But the trip has not been rained out. The atmosphere has been sunny in both countries, with plenty to cheer about as he concludes bilateral talks.

(Minu Jain can be contacted at minu.jain@ians.in)

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