Sing it in Bahasa Melayu: Chinese New Year song celebrating cross-cultural unity warms the hearts of Malaysians

KUALA LUMPUR: Not your typical Chinese New Year song.

It ticks all the necessary boxes – upbeat tunes, positive lyrics and auspiciously colored costumes – but Dong Dong Qiang, released on January 7, stands out with its all-Malay ensemble singing in Bahasa Melayu.

It is probably the first-ever original Chinese New Year song in Malaysia’s national language, according to its music producer and composer Nevin Hiong, and one that has united Malaysians in applauding the unique efforts.

With the customary “gong xi gong xi” and “dong dong qiang” intertwined with Malay lyrics, the song features Ayie Floor 88, Harry Khalifah, Sarah Suhairi, Beby Acha, Lia Aziz and Aidilia Hilda.

“When the label owner MVM Production approached me to produce a Chinese New Year song for his Malaysian artists, he didn’t specify that it had to be in Bahasa Melayu.

“He only set three requirements – the song must contain ‘gong xi ni’, ‘dong dong qiang’ and ‘huat ah’, phrases that Malaysian friends know,” Hiong told CNA.

The phrases, respectively, are a common Chinese New Year greeting, onomatopoeia for drumbeat and cymbal clash, and Hokkien for prosperity.

“I was thinking, these three phrases are Chinese and the song will be performed by Malaysian artists, why not incorporate a Malay-style melody and Chinese instruments for something special?” Hiong added.

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