PETALING JAYA, Aug 24 — Malaysia came out with “Endless Possibilities” as its new global theme months before Israel released a similar tagline, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has said amid a national uproar over claims that the slogan had been plagiarised.
But the shadow cast by the controversy is unlikely to lift soon in the face of an online video that shows the exact same catchphrase used to sell Mongolia, uploaded over a year ago.
“Malaysia’s ‘Endless Possibilities’ nation branding concept was publicly launched in January 2013 at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
“The Tourism Ministry of Israel started using ‘Endless Possibilities’ to promote their conference and incentive market four months later, in May 2013,” the PMO said in a statement emailed to The Malay Mail Online yesterday.
This daily had asked the PMO for clarification after pro-establishment bloggers kicked up a storm this week over the striking similarities between the Najib administration’s new global branding slogan and Israel’s Ministry of Tourism’s tagline “Israel. One Place. Endless Possibilities”.
But soon after receiving the PMO’s explanation, The Malay Mail Online was made aware that a video advertisement marketing Mongolia using the exact same tagline had been uploaded onto YouTube nearly one year before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak first mentioned it at Davos.
A short clip titled “Mongolia Endless Possibilities by CNN” has been available on the popular video-sharing website since it was uploaded on February 19, 2012, by a YouTube account user named BDSecJSC.
A voiceover in the 30-second clip says “With a thriving economy and diverse workforce and rich mineral resources, the opportunities are as vast as the landscape”, before ending with the words “Mongolia, Endless Possibilities”.
The word “Mongolia” streams across the screen in a riot of colours towards the end of the clip, with the two words, “Endless Possibilities”, shown in a smaller and darker-coloured typeface below it.
A check on the Internet revealed “BDSecJSC” to be the initials of a stock brokerage and investment bank <http://www.bdsec.mn/> which claims to be the largest in Mongolia.
A check on Coloribus, an online archive of advertisements worldwide, lists international news broadcaster CNN, and its owner, Turner Broadcasting System, as creating an “Eye on Mongolia” promotional campaign in August 2011.
The campaign was said to promote Mongolia as a tourism and investment destination.
Yesterday, The Malay Mail Online reported two Cabinet ministers as defending the “Endless Possibilities” theme.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the new slogan was not an imitation of the Israeli effort, but an extension of the iconic “Malaysia Boleh!” tagline from the time of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The new tagline is to complement the existing “1 Malaysia: People First. Performance Now” and not to replace it, he said.
“1 Malaysia 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”.
Nazri said the branding venture had been undertaken by a professional local publicist, with the “Endless Possibilities” slogan being a collective agreement by Najib 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.
Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said Malaysia still maintains “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 withhold from forming any diplomatic ties with the Zionist government.
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 was 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.
The resemblance to the Israeli theme also has Internet observers questioning the value in the Prime Minister’s Department commissioning advisers to “copy” the slogan.
Other detractors have also highlighted that the Najib adminstration’s 1 Malaysia campaign in 2009 bore a striking resemblance to the “1 Israel” theme.
Najib has been sporting a dark-blue badge bearing a 14-pointed star in red, yellow and white above the word “Malaysia”, The Star daily reported last Thursday.
“It (the branding slogan) is to complement 1 Malaysia, not to replace it,” Najib also said, referring to the “1 Malaysia” concept that was launched in 2009 during his first term as prime minister.
According to The Star, “Endless Possibilities” is to be formally launched here on September 17, a day after Malaysia marks the 50th anniversary of its formation.