20 03 2006
When? 16 March 2006, Where? KL Convention Centre, What? Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix Spring Gala…
Story by President Shamini

The deal was a win-win situation for the three of us – for Li Sun – the chance to see Lionel Richie live in Kuala Lumpur, for my colleague Rozina – the chance to purchase an exclusive’ dress and look good (no doubt, she did), and for me of course – the rare opportunity to see Formula 1 drivers up, close and personal. The sacrifice? Looking like sweet young ladies while shoving flyers at guests who were there to attend the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix Spring Gala.

Let me take a moment off my wild dreams and beyond imagination of reversing Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari at the starting grid and tell you what was actually required of us.
We went that rainy horrible evening to Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre to meet our social obligations (not that we don’t do enough fro Rotaract already). We were there to assist Rozina’s mum, Datin Tina Ali, the Organising chairperson of the Malaysian Charity Draw to hand out information flyers on the Charity Draw to guests at the F1 Gala Ball and to Lionel’s concert and then direct them to purchase tickets. (amongst the three of us, we handed out 10 flyers and had no need for any sense of direction!). The funds raised will be channeled to Persatuan Pemulihan Orang-orang Cacat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan, the Malaysian Association for the Blind, the Yayasan Orang Kurang Upaya Kelantan, the Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities Fund of Malaysia, Persatuan Daybreak, Yayasan Sin Chew and the Persatuan Orang Pekak Malaysia, Society for the Severely Mentally Handicapped, the Persatuan Down’s Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation and the MAA-Medicare Kidney Foundation.

Sham with Nick Heidfield, the German F1 driver
So anyway, the Guests of Honour were not only the Prime Minster, Tun Mahathir & first lady as well as all the other Cabinet Members, but also, supposedly, Formula 1 drivers.
With my camera in hands and in a toe-numbing position, trying to dodge an annoyingly poking palm plant, I took my spot along the red carpet and stayed there amongst the swarm of foreign and local reporters and photographers. Camera zoomed to the doors of the elevator, finger ready to click and elbow in position to damage one’s rib cage, I wait patiently for the big hand to show 8 and the small hand on 12. Taking their place were impeccable Mahathir Lokman (who by the way, lost tones of weight) and surely anorexic Wan Zaleha Radzi who was decked in jewels waiting for the guests to arrive for a brief interview. Wan Zaleha actually came up to me and asked me for fashion tips! Imagine that?

So pairs of sweaty armpits and many weird conversations after, I feel someone poke me from behind and hey – it was my two friends whom I ditched for the better 😛 – and whispering in my ears, the drivers are behind!!! Where? Huh? What? I turned and saw them – Jacques Villeneuve and Nick Heidfeld – the Petronas drivers who were so reluctant to come into the spotlight. Grabbing the chance, Rozina & I managed to take some pictures with the 2 guys and then, I told them that the cameras and the hosts are waiting for them at the red carpet.
So they went, reluctantly leaving us. I went back to my position at the Red carpet, waited and waited for more drivers and there were no one else.

Half hour later, Mahathir told us to go home. Sadly we turned away. But at least I had shots of the greater men of Malaysia! So, I was happy. But was Li Sun? No way! She was hoping to see the man who brought us hits like “Say You, Say Me”, “Easy”, “Three Times A Lady” and loads more – Yes folks, Lionel Richie, who was about to begin his once in a lifetime performance in Malaysia as part of the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix Spring Gala so just a few metres away, yet so far ! We were hoping to catch a glimpse of Lionel or even steal a note or so when someone opens the door to go to the restroom…but our luck was nowhere near lucky! With heads hung low and the fake smiles that we were okay about it was just too much for Rozina to handle. With a word here and a request there, three tickets were shoved at us and simple advise – run girls – don’t miss a thing! Of course not – with tickets worth RM900, RM1300 and RM1500, we were SUPER LUCKY to get free tickets!!! FREE!!!

So on our feet and sore palms from clapping and an aching throat from screaming out his songs, we were entertained. So were the VIPS! C’mon, the king and queen were no where close to sitting down and giving Lionel courtesy claps and fake applauses – they were on their feet dancing to the beat! Woohoo!

With a string of number one hits over nine consecutive years, it’s no wonder that Richie is hailed as one of the most successful singer/songwriters of all time. He began his musical career with the Commodores, a funk/pop group in the early 70s, before going solo in 1982, and became one of the most successful male solo artists of the 1980’s.

In future – if ever Lionel comes to Malaysia – if you can afford it, it’ will be a concert not to be missed! Other methods – make friends with the already rich and famous or just have charity in mind – because when you do good, you are sure to be blessed. In our case – the Formula 1 Drivers & Lionel Richie!




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