Shah Rukh Khan visit expected to boost Malaysian tourism

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Kuala Lumpur, Dec 5 (IANS) Malaysians are hopeful that a visit by Bollywwod superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who is to be conferred the title of Datuk, will boost the country's tourism industry that has been badly hit by the current global economic crisis.

Shah Rukh, who is immensely popular among the 28 million Malaysians, especially the large Indian diaspora, will be awarded the title that is akin to the British knighthood at a special ceremony in Malacca Saturday.

The royal chief of Malacca Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaacob, who is also the state's constitutional head, will confer the award at the Dewan Seri Negri, the venue for special ceremonies, at 10 a.m.

The ceremony will be attended by 1,000 specially invited guests, The Star newspaper said Friday.

Although wife Gauri will not be accompanying Shah Rukh, she will be entitled to be called Datin, spouse of a Datuk.

Malacca Chief Minister Mohammed Ali Rustam said that with declining tourist arrivals, the Malacca state will promote itself as an international film location and the Bollywood superstar's visit may be a boost.

"This will certainly help promote both Malaysia and Malacca," he said when contacted in Paris by Star Online.

"What better time to launch it than in conjunction with the actor's visit?"

Datukship for Shah Rukh has created some controversy as local artistes have said it is being done at their cost.

However, Malaysian and Malaccan state authorities have defended their decision, saying it earned them more publicity and tourists than sponsored advertising on any international TV channel could.

Shah Rukh has shot a film "One 2 ka 4" and a song for blockbuster "Don" in Malaysia and has promised to shoot more extensively.

Shah Rukh will be given the honour of being the first Datukship recipient from Malacca to don the official state samping during a special investiture ceremony tomorrow.

The 3,000 ringgit ($900) specially made black samping is adorned with kesidang flower motif and tied in the style of the late P. Ramlee, Malaysia's biggest theatre personality, to complete the baju melayu to be worn by Shah Rukh.

Baju melayu is a traditional Malay outfit for men and consists of two main parts. The first being the baju (long sleeved shirt) that has a raised stiff collar known as the cekak musang collar. The second part is the trousers.

The two parts are made out of the same type of fabric which is usually silk, cotton, or a mixture of polyester and cotton. A skirt-type adornment is also commonly worn with the baju melayu.

"This is the first time that we are using this particular songket for a Datukship recipient and Shah Rukh Khan will be first to wear the official samping," Minister for Human Resource, Health and Consumer Affairs Abdul Karim Sulaiman told reporters.

The samping is sponsored by Institut Seni Malaysia Melaka, whose representatives will help the actor put on the samping.

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