KUALA LUMPUR: Japanese student Lisa Shimazaki has won the Prime Minister’s Trophy in the international category of the 2017 Bahasa Melayu International Public Speaking competition.
Lisa, 21, who began learning Bahasa Melayu three years ago, amazed the judges and the audience with her fluent use of the Malay language, according to a report in The Star.
She spoke on Bahasa Bukan Sekadar Alat Komunikasi, Bahasa Adalah Segala-galanya (Language is not just a communication tool, language is everything).
A student of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Lisa, who also speaks English and a bit of Spanish, fended off challengers, including Ma Xiao from China and Rimajon Sotlikova from Uzbekistan, in the final round of the competition.
She received a RM20,000 cash prize, a trophy, a certificate and a copy of the Kamus Dewan dictionary from Prime Minister Najib Razak at the finals on Wednesday night.
A total of 52 contestants from 35 countries took part in the competition.
Lisa later spoke to reporters in Malay. “I chose to learn Bahasa Malaysia because I really like Southeast Asian countries and their culture. Everything about Malaysia to me is inspiring.
“The language is not so difficult to master, although sometimes I do forget some words,” she was quoted as saying by The Star.
According to the report she calls herself by the Malay name of Raihana.
“My lecturer Puan Faridah gave me that name. I love it,” she said.
In the Foreign Students in Malaysia category, International Islamic University IT student Abdul Matin Mohamed Azeem – from Afghanistan – was crowned champion.
Abdul Matin, 24, moved to Malaysia with his parents and enrolled in a local school at the age of 13.
The Alam Melayu (Malay world) category, which saw participants from Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Thailand, was won by Malaysian Noor Haqim Noor Hamiddon.
Both received a RM20,000 cash prize, a trophy, a certificate and a copy of the Kamus Dewan dictionary.